Hello!

This blog started back in 2014 as a place for me to share my knitting and crafty projects. Three and a half years later it is still a place to share my new designs and things I’ve made, but it’s also become a place for my general ponderings on life, feelings and the eternal quest for contentment!

A few new followers have hopped on board recently so I wanted to say hello (hello!) and introduce myself.

Yarn Hug - Jem Weston knitting blog

I started knitting at a young age, taught by my Grandma Weston who was definitely addicted to the knit. After dipping in and out over the years, I really re-discovered my love of knitting whilst at university. It was a creative outlet that felt un-pressured and unpretentious. After completing my degree in Fine Art, I quickly realised I was happier in the craft world – sharing skills and being part of a friendly community of lovely people who wanted to make lovely things!

Knitting & Roses - Jem Weston blog

After leaving uni, I had the usual “I don’t know what to do with my life!” dilemma that seems to hit most people leaving education and being in the “real world” for the first time! This lasted a good few years, during which time I worked in a wool shop and started a knit group with a friend.

Due to a bit of luck, fate and hard work – I started working for Rowan Yarns in 2008 as the Design Consultant Manager. For three and a half years I travelled the UK looking after our team of Rowan experts who worked in John Lewis stores and also our lovely Rowan Workshop Tutors.

In 2011 I moved over to the sales side of the company as a Coats Crafts Territory Manager, where I looked after an area of independent Rowan and Coats Crafts stockists. During this time I wrote my first book Cute Little Knits.

Cute Little Knits

In 2014 I gave up the day job and made the leap to working freelance! It was a big and scary decision but definitely the right one for me. After working full time in great but somewhat demanding jobs for six and a half years, I was ready to take some time to focus on designing, making and catching up on sleep!

In 2015 I wrote my second book The Knitted Nursery Collection, which was published in early 2016 and is available from my shop here.

As much as I enjoyed working freelance and being my own boss, I missed the close contact with my Rowan family and the lovely independent yarn shops. I also missed the routine of having a “proper” job! So I was thrilled when I was invited back to work with Rowan as a part-time Brand Account Manager.

Rowan @ Black Sheep Wools

I’m now back on the road visiting and supporting independent Rowan stockists three days each week, which leaves me (just about) enough time to design and write knitting patterns as well!

So keep your eye on my workshop page – I will be adding more Rowan mini-classes in different venues around the middle/north of England & Wales (with the occasional trip to Northern Ireland!).

And watch this space for my new book Cute Comfort Knits which will be available to buy from my shop and Rowan stockists from August 15th 2017!

A New Chapter

Fyne-Slipover-2_LIt’s just over two years since I wrote my blog about giving up the day job – and today I’m really excited to let you know about my new day job!

After working for Coats Crafts for 6 years, I hugely missed visiting lovely retailers and of course I missed receiving all the advanced information and Rowan samples. I’ve been a fan of Rowan for years and the Fyne slipover opposite is almost entirely responsible for my Felted Tweed addiction! But the job wasn’t allowing me time to work on projects outside of work and giving up the day job was definitely the right decision for me at the time.

I’m very happy to say that I now have a part-time job with Mez crafts (who own Rowan) and as of Monday 15th August I will be working as a Brand Account Manager. I can’t wait to work with my Rowan family again and I’m really looking forward to getting started and visiting our lovely Rowan stockists.

As the job is part-time, it means I will have time outside of work to continue my freelance work – so you will still see me at shows and workshops and I have plenty of new designs planned as well as a knit-along for 2017!

My first day coincides beautifully with an event celebrating Rowan’s 60th magazine! Kaffe Fasset will be will be hosting a talk on his career and the history of his association with Rowan. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there?

And here’s a little peek at Rowan Mag 60 for you x

Time flies!

The first of July will mark one full year since I gave up the day job!

It was such a big and scary decision to make, but I got into the swing of it pretty quickly. As soon as I started working for Coats and Rowan in 2008, I was in charge of my own schedule and I knew straight away that being my own boss would suit me very nicely. It’s been over seven years since I worked in a full time job with set hours, and although I do sometimes miss the structure of having a job that I can leave at work – I really love what I do.

I spent most of the first six months getting organised: preparing workshops and booking dates, planning designs, setting up my workroom and having a bit of a rest. The last six months have been more of a challenge for my time management and self motivation, with lots of workshops and design work. It’s been great!

 

Heading into summer, it’s a bit quieter on the workshop front – and with my big design deadlines met, I’m planning to do a bit of catching up! I’ve got the red pen out for final checks of my new book The Knitted Nursery Collection, I’m updating my workshop subjects ready for autumn/winter, making plans for my stand at Yarndale and most importantly – catching up on some gardening and selfish knitting!

I can’t wait for the next year of adventures in self-employment!

 

My Creative Space

Back in early July, I started taking my first steps into self-employment by doing up my work room. After many years of neglect and being used as an office/ spare bedroom/ general dumping ground, I wanted to completely empty it and start from scratch to create a knitters paradise! You can see the before picture in my ‘First Steps‘ blog.

As with most things I do- I seriously underestimated how long it would take. I wasn’t just giving it a fresh lick of paint and a tidy- so it was 3 weeks before I even got paint on the walls! I’ve taken out the bed and replaced it with some handy Ikea storage, taken up the tatty carpet and painted the floorboards- but the thing that took the most time was making shelves from scratch.

I didn’t have a windowsill before, so I’ve made a nice wide one for growing seedlings on which has lots of space underneath to store my portfolios and sewing machine. There was also a lot of wasted space between the airing cupboard and the window, so I did some made to measure (if slightly wonky) shelves and I’m amazed that all of my fabric stash now fits there. Although I’m a bit concerned that the top layer of fabric in each box will fade by the window!

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I’m most proud of my new yarn cubes! I built them from scratch and I know they’re wonky- but I love them! I was inspired by this on pinterest and also thought it would be good to add in some hooks for bits and bobs and a little cork board.

My friend Steph has been collecting corks for ages- so I copied her and beat her to making something with them! Apparently it helps to soak them in water before cutting them in half, but I just sawed them with my bread knife and that worked fine. I’m looking forward to putting some nice hanks of yarn on the hooks!

I really do think it’s important to have a nice space to work in so that you can stay focussed and think creatively. I’m so happy with my new space and I’m really looking forward to getting my lovely new armchair back from refurbishment (dad’s garage)- I think it’ll really finish the room off!

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So this is my creative space. What does yours look like? Do you have a whole room, a cupboard under the stairs? Or maybe your creative space is just wherever you sit to knit?! I’d love to hear about it x

 

First steps

I’ve now completed my first week as my own boss and it’s been pretty good!

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Despite the fact that it’s been non-stop, I don’t feel I’ve been very productive- because I haven’t been doing ‘proper’ work!

Before I get started, I think it’s really important to have a nice environment to work in. But tidying and decorating always takes longer than I think- especially when the room starts off looking like this!

I’ve always tried to keep my workroom fairly organised, but more recently it’s been a case of just plonking things in there and closing the door. The room has doubled up as a spare bedroom as well, which means that I haven’t had the storage space I’ve needed and I end up with piles of stuff on the bed. I’ve admitted defeat on that one, and my guests will now be staying on a fold up bed that I can store under the stairs!

 

wpid-img_20140718_095919.jpgIt’s a really small room, but with the bed removed and some classic Ikea shelving purchased, I’m hoping to make it a practical, tidy and pretty space to work in.

I’ve set up a making room board on Pinterest with a few ideas and I’m very excited about making a little shelving unit like this, to sit above my desk.

I was hoping to be a bit further along by Friday- I even thought I might have some paint on the walls! But at least the room is empty(ish) and ready for paint.

wpid-img_20140718_095616.jpgI also think it’s important to have somewhere comfy to sit in a workroom, so I snapped up this Ercol armchair for a bargain price on Ebay. It needs a lot of  love and my dad is going to try and sand it down to take it back to the pale wood before I get started on the fun part- making cushions for it!

Hopefully by the end of next week I’ll have some paint on walls!

Giving up the day job

Tues 1st July called for a different stitch and a brand new colour on my mood scarf.  I chose white to signify a fresh start and the beginning of a new adventure. Self-employment!

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I have worked for Coats for just over six years- firstly as Rowan Design Consultant Manager and then as Coats Territory Manager. I have had so many good times, met lots lovely people and been given some fantastic opportunities. The decision to leave was not an easy one to make.

There are so many things I will miss about my job: The friendly and talented Coats crafts family, getting boxes full of beautiful samples delivered to my door, and my lovely customers who share my excitement and passion for yarn, fabric and all things crafty.

I’m not venturing far though, and later this year I will be launching my career as a Rowan workshop tutor- so please look out for details and dates coming soon! This means I will still get to see my colleagues from Coats and the lovely Rowan retailers who I have worked with over the last six years. Yay!

My final decision was made after seeing this on pinterest….

make stuff and sleepSince writing Cute Little Knits in 2012 I have had lots of ideas for creative projects I want to work on, including more knitting patterns, knitting workshops and setting up a small business with a good friend. But I have known that pursuing these ideas alongside a demanding full time job would result in not much sleep, lots of unhealthy fast meals and generally not taking care of myself!

When I saw this pin it made me realise that if I don’t have time to do the two things that make me happiest (ie, make nice things and sleep!), then I need to address my work/ life balance and something needs to change. It’s a risk- but I feel it’s one I have to take and I’ve prepared myself for the worse case scenario!

Becoming self-employed and pursuing my creative  urges, is something I have been considering for a long time. Part of my inspiration to make the jump came from my friend Martin, who has taken a career break to follow his dreams and have lots of adventures! After suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2009, Martin has made a full recovery and decided to stop making excuses and just do stuff! You can read about Martin’s experience and follow his adventures here.

I’ve been absolutely blown away by the support and encouragement I have been given by friends, family and colleagues since making the decision earlier this year. It’s really given me confidence that I have made the right choice and I’m so grateful to have such lovely people in my life.

I’m really excited and raring to go with all my ideas, but before getting started- I needed a rest! I’ve spent a couple of weeks catching up on sleep in the sunshine and it’s been the perfect full stop to a wonderful six years, before I embark on a new chapter of my life. Wish me luck!

I would love to hear your stories about changing direction and what inspired you? x