As I sit enjoying the warmth of the fire and a cup of tea, I hope that, twenty-five miles away, you are sitting enjoying the warmth of your friends and a cuppa on this, the last ever Woolly Wednesday (WW). I am so sorry that I'm not with you to share in this momentous evening – Husband's work-related absence from home is annoying on many levels, though this is perhaps the most significant "miss".
We may not be in the same room but, nonetheless, I thought that I would share this time with you to say "thank you". It is no understatement to say that meeting you, our subsequent professional collaborations and, most especially, the WWs have changed my life, and for the better. For so much the better.
Yes, WW ticked the obvious boxes: I knitted, ate cake, drank tea and chatted with a lovely group of people. I have been inspired, so very inspired, to try new designers, embrace new ideas and knit with new yarn. However, the real gift of WW has been the friends I've made, and I very much count you among them. It was beyond my wildest dreams to think that I would be so fortunate as to find such a wealth of true, honest, loyal, stand-beside-you-and-be-counted friends, but there you go: It happened. And once all the cake has been eaten, the tea drunk, the knitting completed (hah!), we will remain.
Please do not take the closure of the shop as a reflection on you, because it isn't: It's a wider reflection on us, your customers, and probably has a lot to do with our departure from the physical shopping to the virtual – a habit that has now forced your business along a similar path. You have always shown tireless energy and insight in your ventures (shall we talk again of the success story of your crafty kits?) and, perhaps after a wee rest to re-group, I suspect you’ll be up and at it again.
Sometimes we don't help ourselves, being the fickle lot of crafters that we are. Not me, obviously, it's knitting all the way with me – can just about bring myself to brandish a crochet hook from time to time (...though I do like a whirl on my sewing machine...) – but often as not, you'll find a crafter who has all the makings for needle-felting, beading, vintage furniture painting and more - in addition to her love of yarn. And though you catered for us all, we failed to meet your expectations. And for that, I am very sorry. You supported local crafters by providing them with precious shop-space to sell their own creations; you supported teachers such as myself by inviting us in to do workshops; you support local and national crafting events while wearing a number of hats, including that of owner and manager of your wonderful shop. It is true to say that the loss of The Handmade Store is too big for any number of beads to fill.
But we have not lost you. I will not be alone in taking comfort from the fact that it is only the shop that's going: Jo, the entrepreneur, the astute business woman is continuing her crafty work and, on whichever path she chooses, will triumph.
And so I wish you goodnight, and in words far better than mine:
"You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain."
― Tom Hiddleston
Jo, take this moment to look behind you, for went the clouds lift, and the people disperse, only then will you see to what great heights you have reached xx