This month we have had the pleasure of interviewing Stuart Race, at The Woolpatch, for June's Blogger of the Month. Stuart is a vlogger and store owner in Suffolk, England. He has an abundance of fantastic how-to videos and reviews, showing off his many crafting talents and his amazing store!
Why did you start blogging/vlogging?
I started vlogging for two reasons, the first was to promote the shop and its community. Making videos to me is far more creative than writing traditional email newsletters. I get to talk to the viewers, show off the yarn and fabric in the shop and show them new stock before anyone else. I get to then talk to them in the comments and build up a community. I've been at it for 3 years now and I'm thrilled to have nearly 4k subscribers. The second reason was to use Google Ad revenue to contribute to the shop's monthly bills. Whenever you watch YouTube, you see ads. When you watch ads on my YouTube channel, you know it will all go towards the shop. I tell my viewers this so everyone is aware. Last month, the ad revenue paid the shop's telephone and internet bills. In the summer months when people stop crafting and knitting, it can be very hard in the shop to make ends meet so YouTube vlogging helps a little. The more it grows, the more the shop will benefit!
What inspires your work?
The shop and knitting/fabric community. I get so many ideas from them in the comments of YouTube videos or on Instagram. But mostly I'm inspired by my local countryside and area. I've done many videos on local surroundings, walks, events, and places. One of my recent videos was on a pattern by Martin Storey called 'Stour'. Well, in Suffolk we have the River Stour. I made a video about the Stour cardigan and the river and where it goes! It was such fun to do and film.
How has HiyaHiya helped with your work?
Speed and comfort. I'm a huge fan of the interchangeable steel sharps and have the whole set with multiple amounts of cables. It allows me to knit quicker and my needles glide under the yarn. No frustrations with yarn snagging and the wonderful engineering to get the cables to swivel means cables don't get tangled and there is no annoying 'snag' at the join like you get in so many other needles! I love it.
What is your favourite/ go-to HiyaHiya product?
Sharp interchangeables - love them and have them all. I also have the straight set, so I can change to straights in seconds just by screwing in the ends! Love how adaptable they are - like LEGO!!
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I'm about to start a nice simple vest top for me to wear to the gym or out on a summer night. It's called the 'Dirty Vest' inspired by Bruce Willis in Die Hard! It's knit in the round so will take no time at all! It's a pattern from 'Stitch Seekers' I found on Ravelry, sadly no longer going, but they produced patterns for men from 2014, to 2016. Modern and stylish. Yippee Ki Yay!!
Who/ What do you draw inspiration from for your work and designs?
When making YouTube videos, I draw a lot of my inspiration from film, theater, and radio. I may choose to edit a special sequence in a particular style and play around with cutting, colour, and music. I have to say I'm a big fan of 80's tv shows so I'll often use cheesy music and style haha.
Are there any designers or fellow bloggers you admire or have been influenced by?
Yes, big vloggers like Peter McKinnon - especially his earlier videos and Peter Lindgren. They have nothing to do with the crafting world, but they make cool YouTube videos. So I've taken a lot of that modern editing, and filming style and put it into the knitting world. Hopefully bringing my knitting vlogs into the 21st century. Put this with the latest technology and engineering from HiyaHiya, which means viewers get to see our crafting world now, modern and current. Knitting is way more than straight needles and knitting flat. My customers in the shop are loving seeing these different, modern approaches and learning new techniques and tools.
What are your plans for the future? Have you got anything in the pipeline?
Two things; firstly to keep doing YouTube and to have more shows on the wonderful world of knitting. I'd like to do more interview shows with designers and manufacturers. I would love to do more behind-the-scenes stuff with how things are made in the wool and knitting industry.
Secondly, to continue to make my own yarn! Lavenham Blue is a 4ply yarn that I produce myself. I source the fleece from flocks near my shop, I get it spun up in Yorkshire then hand dye it myself using WOAD. It made my area in Suffolk very rich in the 16th Century. I produce a collection once a year and it has a very little carbon footprint. I just need more time to dye all the wool! This year's collection should be ready by July 2022.