Monday, August 15, 2011

Knowsley’s Kathryn makes Knitting a Family Affair

Saving four jobs and a shop with 80 years of business heritage was no mean feat for Knowsley’s Kathryn Reilly.

For Kathryn, knitting had always been a great passion and hobby. Throughout her working life she had always found herself spreading her knitting enthusiasm amongst her colleagues, and enjoyed showing them a few tips and techniques.

Having been a regular customer at ‘The Wool Shop’ in Prescot for over 20 years, Kathryn was saddened when she heard the news that the shop faced closure due to the owner retiring. She went straight home to tell her husband the news and they soon decided that filling the gap by setting up their own wool business would be a fantastic adventure.

“I had always said I would love to have my own wool shop, but it never entered my head that I’d be doing it” she said.

Kathryn contacted Knowsley Council to find out what support was available for those with a business idea and was directed to The Women’s Organisation for advice and guidance. She said:
“I got loads of help from The Women’s Organisation on writing up my business plan. I went on their business planning course too. It really gives you the basic knowledge so that you can weight it all up and think yes I think I can do this, or no I’m not ready.”

Kathryn set up ‘Purls of Wisdom’ in partnership with her husband. She received a £200grant from The Women’s Organisation and a further £1000 through Knowsley Fresh Start which has enabled her to plan new lighting and carpet refurbishments for the shop that she took on for the venture. Since starting out and making some cosmetic changes to the old premises the response has been very positive. “The customers can see that we have opened it up and they say ‘Doesn’t it look great, it looks fantastic. If I hadn’t had the support from The Women’s Organisation and Fresh Start I couldn’t have done it. Even now, it’s great to know I can just pick up the phone and know there is someone at the other end who will help you.”

‘Purls of Wisdom’ has not only provided new jobs and a new life for Kathryn and her husband, but it is now employing 4 other Knowsley residents. The community are so delighted by the shop that customers have even donated bits of furniture, so Kathryn was able to set up a tea room for the staff.

“At first my daughters thought I was mad, but now they have seen it they think it’s brilliant. They even come in to help us on their days off. My father has been really supportive too, even helping out financially when we have needed it. I definitely feel like I have made the right decision. I come into work every day because I just love it. The best thing about it is the self-satisfaction and pride that you get working for yourself.”

Purls of Wisdom are based at ‘The Wool Shop’ 32 Eccleston Street, Prescot, Knowsley, L34 5QJ. They cater for all knitting and sewing needs such as: wool and patterns, alterations service, hand knitted items for babies that are made to order. If you manage to find something they don’t stock that you would like for knitting they are happy to take orders too.

As of Thursday 4th August a ‘Knit and Natter’ group will be running every week from 2-4pm which will be a chance for local knitting enthusiasts to meet together at The Wool Shop for a cup of tea and group knitting.

For more information on this or other services offered by Purls of Wisdom, contact or 0151 426 5264.

And if like Kathryn you have a dream to run your own business, then why not contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or for more information on the FREE support available to women.

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