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“It came from China and took over a month to arrive”

China Crisis

China Crisis | Poor Feedback | Bad Reviews | Customer Complaints

My own mini China Crisis.

Odd thing for me to write about, and to draw your attention to, but on this occasion, I really want to talk about it.  If I sound a bit preachy, sorry not sorry, but I do promise to try to reign myself in, when I’m going on a bit…

Don’t get me wrong, reviews are very important, good and bad.  Good is a pat on the back, and a spring in your step, a little boost to your ego, a smile for a day etc. etc.  And bad, although a bitter pill to swallow, is a pill that needs swallowing nonetheless.  It can be constructive, and a learning opportunity, a way to improve.  Blah blahdy blah blah.  But let’s face it, no-one actually wants one do they?

Now, I’m lucky, I’ve only ever received a handful of complaints, which I’ve always dealt with promptly, apologetically, and have resolved the problems that have arisen quickly, and to the satisfaction of the customer.  I can’t do any better than that.  And if people want to make a complaint, then absolutely!  Go right ahead!  I just ask a couple of things…

1. Please read the information in the listing before getting cross with me.

Please don’t get cross with me, when I’ve said that there’s a long lead time for a hand made item.

My Etsy listings all say…

 “As these [blankets] are hand knitted to order, please allow 3 weeks for despatch.  We aim to despatch a lot sooner than this, but at busy times of the year, we would not wish to disappoint due to delays.”

Now I know that it might seem a long time, but I have to order the yarn, which may take anything up to 4/5 days to arrive.  I can’t keep stock, because I live in a mouse-house, and have a moth issue (they ate my favourite handbag goddammit!! and the insides of 5 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino).  Anyway, yes, I have to order the yarn, then I have to hand knit the item, which, if it’s a blanket, takes over 22,000 stitches would you believe?  Well, yes, and that’s without casting on and off.  Then there’s the finishing, then the blocking, and to be honest, you may not be the only person I’m knitting things for, but I can guarantee that you’re all as important as one another!  So, rather than give myself a heart attack because of undue pressure to knit stuff, I allow myself some breathing space, and state, clearly, that there’s a “healthy” lead time of up to 3 weeks.  If you need something faster, it may simply be the case that you need to order from elsewhere.  Sorry I’d love to accommodate you, but I’d also like to make it to my next birthday.

I’ve taken the quote above, from the actual listing, which you can find here

 

Baby's Cellular Pram Blanket Knitting Pattern

Back story #1

A customer ordered a zinc coloured cellular blanket at 22:05 on Friday 26th January from my Etsy shop.  Hurrah!  Etsy calculated despatch date as 16th February.  Great!  Plenty of time to get it knitted, blocked etc.etc.

I ordered the yarn on Saturday 27th January from my supplier.  It arrived on Tuesday 30th January, whilst I was out taking a crochet class.

On Tuesday 30th January, I got home at around 2.30pm, took the dogs out, made some lunch, sat down for a second or two, fannied around a bit, probably ate a couple of hot cross buns, did a little bit more to a crocheted v-stitch blanket I’d started, made dinner, ate dinner, washed up after dinner, then, at about 8pm, #1 son appeared and suggested I might have a parcel. I located said parcel, opened said parcel, organised the yarn from said parcel, then started knitting the blanket with the yarn I’d organised from said parcel…  I didn’t get particularly far, as by then it was about 9.30, so I cast on, did a couple of rows from the bottom border, put it down, did a little bit more fannying around, probably let the dogs out, probably tidied the kitchen a bit, may have had a bath, definitely went to bed.

Anyway, I started working on the blanket at a decent pace, knitting a fair chunk of it every day that I could. I even took it to the hut with me last Sunday, but it was too cold to hold the needles.  By the time I got to sit down on Sunday, it was about 8pm, so out came the blanket and I pressed on.  I’d made good progress, anticipated finishing it on Monday night, ready for the blocking process to begin on Tuesday.  I’d be able to post on Thursday or Friday, a week early, hurrah!

Then at 8pm on Monday, I received this…Beyond belief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And immediately afterwards, this…

I can't believe it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my head I was saying, woah, woah, woah!  It says!  It says 3 weeks!!  In the listing!!  I’ve knitted half of it!  It’s not due to be sent until 16th February!

company assistants

I ranted.  I ranted internally.  I ranted to #1 son.  I ranted to company assistants canine 1 and canine 2.  I ranted to G, who I share the hut with.  I ranted out a reply.  I read out ranted reply.  I [was told to] delete ranted reply.  Then I calmed down a bit and wrote a polite reply (through gritted teeth), apologised about her wanting to cancel (of course I did, I’m British); explained the process in making her blanket; had a one sentence mention about having knitted most of it; agreed to her full refund request; asked her to reflect on her indignation now she understood what goes into the process; and [theoretically] let it go (hmm… time is a great healer).

 

She didn’t reply, and I suspect she probably didn’t even read it, but hopefully, the next time she buys from someone like me, she’ll realise that it’s not the same as buying from Mothercare; it’s not off the shelf; it’s not mass-produced, made by a machine;  it’s not order by 10pm to get next day delivery.  It’s painstakingly made by a person.  And perhaps then, the whole processing time thing won’t be beyond her belief.

2. Please don’t blame me for the international postal system.

I was at my friend’s house, shortly after my weekly crochet lesson (there’s a common theme here…) telling them about the cancelled order, and *PING* went my phone, and up popped B**** B**** has left you feedback.

Feedback 1

 

I read it with utter dismay, my heart just pounded unhappily in my chest.

I read it out loud to my friend, who repeated it back to me with incredulity.  It came from China?

I called G from Sainsbury’s car park, because obviously I couldn’t go in until this had been resolved, not with all those hot cross buns on show, I’d have brought home the entire stock!  She said, with sympathy, “Lord you’re really going through it at the moment”, something like that.  Well, something like that, or “ha ha, you’re rubbish”.

We discussed the China thing, was it the quality?  Was it the customs label?  What?  Whilst on the phone to G, I dug out the postage receipt (handily stashed in my handbag), to confirm the date it was sent, and I’d posted it the day after she’d ordered it (I fairly often have a pile of seagulls ready for the Hut).  So, was she just cross?  Cross that somehow it had got stuck in the postal system?  So cross that she decided to give me a 1* feedback, instead of contacting me to chase the parcel?  Or cross because she thought the seagull was a crappy Chinese import?  Who knew?

G said that I’ve sold enough of them (almost 1.000 now) face to face to know that people like them, there are enough chirpy “oh, look at the seagulls” comments, down in Whitstable, to know that they’re appreciated.  She said, it must be the length of time it took.

So, I bought up the entire stock of hot cross buns, went home, opened the laptop and wrote the message I wanted to write, deleted it, and politely asked her to explain what she meant, because here’s the proof of postage, what do you mean about China, please remove the comment about China, because it’s not true and I cannot have people thinking that my hard work is actually a Chinese import.

She replied saying that my grey waterproof parcel and customs label looked Chinese.  She agreed to remove the China comment, but that she was still “very cross” about the delay.  I explained again that the delay was out of my control, I had taken her gull to the post office the next day.  Perhaps she would reflect on this, and agree to perhaps delete her feedback, as the first part was untrue and the second part someone else’s fault.  I offered to accept the gull’s return (I can’t have someone having one of my gulls that hates it, can I?!), and offered a full refund upon its arrival, and she posted this…

Poor feedback

And just in case you think that they really are crappy Chinese imports…

(and if you don’t, you can buy one here.)

Knitted seagull

 

 

 

 

 

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Garter Stitch Knitting Patterns

Garter stitch knitting patterns

Garter Stitch Knitting Patterns

 

garter stitch 2 garter stitch 1

 

Following on from my previous theme, namely, garter stitch knitting patterns, I’m please to say that, having stayed up until gone 2am, they’re now listed, ready for you to download, and to get those knitting needles out!

They are all ability, but some are really easy, so are ideal for new knitters.  These are (in order of difficulty…)

  • Bunny Tea and Egg Cosy  (egg cosy available as a learn to knit kit)
  • Knit a garter stitch cactus (available as a learn to knit kit)
  • Baby’s hat and boots
  • Very easy garter stitch pram set*
  • Hot water bottle cover
  • Garter stitch bunny and bear
  • Christmas stocking
  • Afghan striped cushion
  • Colour block cushion

Most of these patterns (except *) use DROPS Alaska  (click here to visit Wool Warehouse), which is a dense, Aran weight yarn, 100% wool, excellent for felting (so don’t go throwing it in a washing machine!).  It’s not like some really scratchy wools (i.e. Lopi, which I use for the ready made crocheted cacti at Hut No.13, which actually looks and FEELS like a cactus!), it’s soft and spongy, and not so itchy you can’t wear it as gloves or hats.  It’s one of my most used yarns.  It is thicker than most Aran yarns, so if you want to substitute, check out our alternative yarn suggestions at the end of each pattern.  Click here to view the patterns.

Now, garter stitch… “yawn zzzzz”, I hear you say. “Erm, no!”,  you hear me reply.  Ok, perhaps it can be if you’re knitting a scarf, or something, then yes, crazy boring.  But!  These patterns… are not scarves.  No!  They’re cacti, and bunnies, bears, and booties… in fact, I’m going to tell you a little story about the birth of the cactus pattern…

No.1 daughter visited in July.  No.1 daughter didn’t want to learn to knit when she was little, but suddenly had the urge to learn during her stay.  Out came the knit a bunny egg cosy kit (click here to buy), and a bunny egg cosy was  duly produced.  She was thrilled!  As most people are when they’ve created their first actual, finished, sitting in front of them, bit of knitted loveliness.  She then asked, “if I make this bit longer, and add this bit here, and do this, can I make a cactus?”.  My heart swelled with pride… a designer was born.  So, a cactus appeared (click here to buy the kit).  So, if you order, you can be safe in the knowledge that it really is suitable for beginners, because it was designed by one!!

Right then… I have porridge on the hob, and a pair of reindeer slippers to knit (because reindeer aren’t just for Christmas!).

Watch out for other new patterns that I’ll be listing as the weeks go on.

Happy knitting folks!

#knittingrocks

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Happy New Year! 2018 ready and waiting…

Knitted Bear

Garter Stitch Patterns for Beginners

I’m not sure the WHOLE of 2018 will be dedicated to garter stitch patterns, but I’m in the zone right now, so get ready for an avalanche (ok slight exaggeration), of easy to knit makes.

 

Easy enough for beginners, interesting enough for hardened knitters (interesting? Garter stitch? Yes! Yes, yes, yes!).

 

First of all, I want to talk a little about knitwear design.  Just a little bit.  I think you need a few things to succeed:

 

1. An idea

2. Knowledge of knitting

3. Knitting needles

4. Yarn

5. Something to write it all down on…

Samsung memo

 

Oh yes, and the patience to undo, redo, undo again, give up, cry, throw it in the bin, retrieve it from the bin, sniff it (just to make sure), undo it for the 20th time, and knit something else instead

 

Lucky I have been blessed with tenacity.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. More often than not I don’t have to, but there is a drawer in my bedroom, where abject failures have ended up, and I’m just waiting for the emotional attachment to cease, before I can fully let go, and put them in the bin (that sounds strikingly similar to past relationships…).

 

The idea part, for me, is sometimes through accident, sometimes through research, and sometimes the pattern develops through time. My little seagulls for instance…

 

These began life as an easy to knit brown bird, with triangular wings. My friend asked whether it was a shark… So, I made it less angular, added some shaping, made it a little less beginner friendly (sorry beginner knitters, Linda said it looked like a shark, so I had to take it out on you) and voila! the little songbird was hatched…

Knitted garter stitch bird

The little songbird turned into the little robin…

Knitted robin

And the little robin turned into an array of seagulls…

Knitted seagulls by The Little Songbird Knitting Co

Anyway, I digress…

Garter stitch!

I had the idea of getting a book published, so have created a whole plethora of garter stitch patterns, to excite and entice.  But then, after a few moments of contemplation, settled on the notion that this was in fact a vanity project, and actually, I could publish the patterns as downloads, as I do now.  Easy.  So, here’s a little glimpse at what I’ve been creating, and as soon as I’ve shaken off the last remnants of the female version of man flu that has afflicted me, I shall get my camera out, take some pretty pictures and get these bad boys out to the awaiting public.

 

Garter stitch for beginners

 

2018 is for knitting folks!

 

 

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Regular blog? Oh my…

Knitting in Kent

Knitting in Kent…

Oh my word!  I haven’t written a blog in over a year… and is it because I don’t like talking about myself?  Erm, no!  But. I have been a bit busy of late.  BUT !!  Time to pull my finger out, because there’s so much to tell!!

HUT NO.13

The hut was just in its infancy the last time I wrote about it!  Just the foundations of Harbour Market Whitstable existed last May.  Well, we’ve been there a year now, and it’s thriving, I’m happy to say.  If you’re ever in Whitstable, might I suggest you take a wander down to the harbour, enjoy some lovely food, and a browse through the market.  We’re on the front row, facing Greta, the Thames barge.  If you want to keep up with news, and our opening times, check us out on Facebook here.

Hut No 13


Whitstable Harbour

You can buy a few of the main products sold at the hut, by clicking here.

 

Knitting Lessons Kent

We’ve been doing lots of lessons recently, teaching our knitting lovelies how to knit, how to use DPNs, how to do Fairisle, and they’ve left using their fantastic new skills.

We’ve set up a dedicated Facebook page, so that you can all stay up to date with course info.  It’s easy to book from there (it brings you to here!), so take a look at all of the fantastic work created by our knitters by clicking here.

 

2-Day Knitting Lesson

1-Day Knitting Lesson

Crochet Lessons Kent

And… AND!!!  There’s a page for crochet too, because we’ve added that to our list of courses.  So far we’ve taught just 4 learners at The Little Songbird HQ, with another 2 due to come to their lesson in a week or two.  We’ve taught positively LOADS through Kent Adult Education of course, so if you prefer the idea of a classroom, that might suit you, and if you want the comfort of home and the pretty surroundings (of the village, not me!), then book a one-to-one (or bring a friend).  Take a look at our Facebook page, and the albums, and see the amazing progression over just a few weeks.  Via the Facebook page, you can book your one-to-one, or see the up and coming Kent Adult Education courses on their website.  Click here for the page!

Granny squares

 

Crochet Kent Lessons

 

 

Giant Seagull

Have we mentioned our new monster gull?  Have we?  No??  Well…  We’re on Gargantuan Gull III, he’s waiting for a body…  here’s Gargantuan Gull I having a hug from Hannah.  He looks like he’s enjoying it too!  Want one?  Then look no further… 

 

Giant seagull

 

Right then folks!  Hoping to update you on our news BEFORE the next year’s up!

 

Happy Knitting!

 

#knittingrocks   oh yes it does.

 

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Spring has sprung! This week’s knitting diary…

Spring knits – what’s on the knitting needles this week?

Feeling enthused by my new shiny website,  I’m doing what I ought to do,  and writing a regular blog. It’s good for SEO and content, blah, blah, zzzzzz, oh sorry, I must have drifted off… So don’t worry,  the novelty will soon wear off, as does everything that requires me to establish a routine…

But! Here we are then! What’s new this week?

Well the sun shone yesterday, which is quite a novelty,  so a lovely country walk beckoned.

I’m blessed with being able to leave my front door,  walk around the corner a bit,  and there before me lies an expanse of the British countryside a lot of us rarely get to see.

Orchards, rape fields,  country houses and bluebell laden woods… but I do know how lucky I am, I really do.

Woods surrounding The Little Songbird Knitting Co HQ

Countryside surrounding The Little Songbird Knitting Co HQ

So home we came,  and the company dogs had a long snooze and I was able to get some work done,  namely finishing 2 blankets that were waiting for the arrival of a yarn delivery.

Here they are:

Chevron striped blanket | The Little Songbird Knitting Co

 

Honeycomb blanket | The Little Songbird Knitting Co

Both of these knitting patterns will be available for downloading today.

Both of these are a lot less complicated than they look,  so next week, I’ll show you just how simple they are in a mini step by step excerpt from the patterns.

Now I’m knitting some baby cardies in 5 different seascape colours. I’m hoping to get them all finished,  blocked and labelled in time for Saturday’s Best of Faversham market in Preston Street.

I guess I’d better get knitting!

See you soon folks!

Shiona x