Fleabubs & Lala - Bio
Fleabubs & Lala began life in a little old cottage in the North Devon seaside village of Appledore when I started to tinker with fabric and needles. Having always been very arty and a bit crafty I really wanted to follow a lifelong dream of forging a living out of something I could make with my own fair hands. The earliest creations were little decorations made of felt, a pair of felt shoes, and a couple of cotton dresses for my then Baby daughter Eliza. I had tried a bit of knitting too, but was, quite frankly, totally inept!!
The most memorable item I made in the early days was what gave my little business it’s weird and unique name……a soft toy rabbit, made from sleep suits and bodysuits worn by Eliza in her first months. It had been meant as more of a keepsake than anything else but she attached herself to that rabbit and it became her favourite snuggle toy. His name evolved from ‘that thingy she loves’, and ‘that flea thingy’ to ‘Fleabubs’ and the adventure began!
He’s still around today, I think he is in her schoolbag, along with various replacements that I had to make as his fabric patches got thinner, and grimmer , and harder to fix over the years!
I had always wanted to learn to crochet, especially when I saw all the cute little Baby hats to be made, and after a few failed attempts I paid to do a local course, and it turned out to be the most significant twenty pounds I ever spent!! Where others had failed to reach that special part of my brain, Rachel nailed it and within a couple of weeks I was brandishing that hook like a pro!!
I started to make little granny squares, and joined them into blankets. I mastered little hats, and taught myself to read patterns and charts. I was off, and the following Autumn I began to take custom orders for hats, scarves etc, and was able to give up my soulless part time job. By January 2013 I was starting to find that constant use of the hooks was wearing on my hands, and so invested in an expensive, commercial ergonomic hook. It was much better using something that better fit into my hand but I couldn’t afford to keep buying them in all the sizes I needed. Also, whilst it was miles comfier than a naked hook I knew that a couple of little tweaks would make it just perfect!
I purchased some naked hooks and a few random packets of Fimo polymer clay, did a bit of Google research and away I went. The first batch of hooks I made I managed to completely destroy after not fully reading the heating instructions. We also had to fumigate and air the kitchen a little bit….but lesson learned!! Batch two worked, and the first hooks were born. It was also about this time that I dipped my toe into the world of yarn dyeing, with a couple of experiments with Koolaid.
A post on the little Facebook page I had created for my makes resulted in people actually wanting to purchase the handled hooks, so I sent a few out for testing. The results were brilliant and I started to produce and sell a few hooks each week. The more hooks I made, the more the shape evolved until I had the shape that we know and love today. Patterns and colours became more elaborate and adventurous, and orders started to stack up, until I was no longer able to take crocheted makes orders, as all of my time was being devoted to hooks and clays!
In April 2013 my hooks were featured in ‘Inside Crochet’ magazine which gave me such a boost…..I was on cloud nine for weeks! A feature in ‘Simply Crochet’ followed and from then on I was receiving a good, steady amount of orders each week. The ‘Harty Hook Club’ , a then monthly subscription club was formed in January 2014, which proved to be ridiculously popular. Teaming up with a different Indie Dyer each month I provided a little themed box with a hook, hand dyed mini skein and other tiny treats. The club still runs today, although due to workload it is now bi-monthly…….sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day!!
Fleabubs was starting to grow at quite a pace, and after having played a bit more with yarn and dyes, in the Summer of 2014, at ‘Fibre East’ I launched my own hand dyed yarns. ‘Fibre East’ was my first yarn show, and I enjoyed it immensely, despite the blistering heat. It was also my first opportunity to properly meet other yarn dyers, especially those who had become close friends over the months.
And so the adventure continued, with crazy hook production, flinging yarn at dyes and dyes at yarn, and the occasional bit of pattern writing. 2015 saw Fleabubs at more shows, including my first year at the woolly wonder that is ‘Yarndale’ in Skipton, still my total favourite of all the shows (partly because we hire out a big old house and a few of us spend two or three days chatting, giggling, playing, fondling yarn, drinking an abundance of gin and not getting nearly enough sleep to cope with a busy show……but it’s so worth it!!)
By now our home had been completely overtaken with ‘work stuff’, especially our kitchen, and the constant production of hooks and yarn was having quite an effect on family life. Even the small task of making a sandwich on a dye day became quite a trial! Luckily, my wonderful Mr H came to the rescue and hand built the ‘Yarn Barn’ over the Spring and Summer of 2017. He has done such an awesome job, we now have a proper HQ, fully equipped with almost everything I need and more importantly we have a family home once again.
And that just about brings us up to date…….I wonder what’s next!!!
Nicola aka Lala
Duties include, but not limited to:
Hookery, dyeing, designing, accounts, marketing, PA, first aid, post...incoming & outgoing, Customer service, packaging, purchasing, taxi services, Maid, Nurse, referee, dog walking, Cook, Cleaner, Layer downer of the law and anything else required!
Likes: Gin & coffee