Friday, April 30, 2010

Good-bye Blogger

It's time to say good bye to the original home of the Cambodia Knits blog and move into the new home at the CK website. This was my first experience in blogging and it's been a very positive one. We've made a lot of great friends and fans here and I hope all of you keep checking in at our new home to see what we're up too. There is no way to 'follow' us at the new site, but you can subscribe as easy as 1-2-3 for an RSS feed to keep you up-to-date.

Thank you everyone for following us, checking in, writing comments and supporting us so many different ways! We couldn't have done it without you!

There's a new post already waiting for you here. See you there!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our New Website!!!

I can't believe I neglected to blog here about our new website!!

Thanks to the genius of Yumi Ichida, the patience of Yeng and the tweaking of House 32, we're up and running.

Have a look at and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CK on Twitter

I finally broke down and signed us up for Twitter. Twitter still doesn't make all that much sense to me. I understand how it works, but the idea of being bombarded, on your phone no less, by constant, sometimes banal, updates from around the world, seems odd. I'm still trying to work out the benefit over the annoyance.

To this end, CK is on Twitter. Find us and follow us here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Help CK Grow!

We're growing to a new stage and we need your help to get there!

Cambodia Knits is excited to announce that we'll soon be working with Caritas in Toul Sambo to set up a full knitting workshop right in the community. Caritas are building new housing and community spaces, and there is room for a CK workspace! This means we'll now have an on-site dedicated space to assemble our products to completion.

Currently, CK has to purchase unfinished knitted parts from Toul Sambo, then assemble them together in the Phnom Penh office. With the new workspace, knitters will now be able to earn more by making completely finished products!

We're thrilled with this opportunity, so to get the space running we're asking for a small funding infusion.
Our immediate goal is to:

  • fund the knitters' new training for assembly, and
  • afford travel to the community during training
  • purchase equipment and materials to create a safe and healthy work environment

Your donations will also go towards:

  • setting up a contingency fund for staff; a set reserve that staff can borrow from, with no interest or advance
  • signage, brochure printing and advertising to raise awareness for and promote CK
  • business registration fees

Because we're not a registered charity, we can't issue tax receipts — however, donors will receive a heartfelt email of thanks, and a mention on our Donor Wall of gratitude.

Every bit will help CK get through this challenging stage. Please donate today via Paypal by clicking the button on the right hand panel.

Thank you!

Donations are fully secure using the PayPal system.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CK in Australia

Canberra to be specific.

Last month when we were en route to Sydney, (and nearly missed our flight because we forgot that Singapore was one hour ahead and while happily checking emails using Singapore airport's free wireless service at what we thought was 6:45pm with lots of time until our 8pm flight and Yeng's name got called over the PA and we both immediately realized our mistake and ran, ran, ran to the gate...) I got an email from a woman who runs a baby products store in Canberra, interested in our toys. It was serendipitous because we planning to be in Canberra only a few days later! We managed to meet Emma at Brindabella Baby and are more than happy to supply her shop!

She's just moved her shop to a new location in Canberra, Rodney's Nursery, 24 Beltana Road, Pialligo, and had the opening last week. We didn't get to see the new shop but from the photos below it looks lovely and inviting. Emma has been running the business for a few years, selling eco-friendly, fair trade products for the under 5 kiddies. She started doing this out of her house, but as the business grew and she found more and more great products from around the world, she eventually opened a shop. She focuses on products that are fairly produced and help the communities in which they are produced, a true ethical consumer. You can read more about Brindabella Baby and see more photos here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More new stuff!

Since the beginning I have been thinking about how to best display finger puppets for sale. Way back when, I did a search for finger puppet displays and one that looked great was the chopsticks in vase options which we have been using since. It's a cheap, easy option and kinda cute. Not the best for shopping though as they tend to get messed up and it's sometimes hard to have a good look the bunch without tipping the display over.

So for the past few months, I've really wanted to improve on the display and since Phnom Penh is a great place to put idea into practice at any variety of small scale wood, metal, plastic workshops I thought it would be snap. Not so. Well, yes so, but you need to have the right person to do the legwork for you. Luckily, CK has Chariya who is not only a great translator, but a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to tracking down any variety of un-simple requests I have. Thanks to her, in less than three days we have our puppet stands!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Price tags

We're getting more and more settled into the new space. Next step is to formalize the retail area in the front, but the knitters recently moved forward from the back of the room because the fan is better there. And I can understand! With the daily temperature hitting above 40C, it's painfully hot! We'll need more fans installed I think.

We're preparing some products to go to Monument Books today and we're debuting our new price tags. These will include the name of the knitter. The knitters were very excited about this. The website is almost ready for (go and have a peak, but there are few tweaks still to be made) public consumption. It's looking fantastic!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The new office

Oh la la! It's been a long time coming, but finally, here are some photos of our new office/workshop. Apologies for the long absence, but we've been too busy to post anything here until now. That doesn't mean we're not busy at the moment, but I have some time to indulge in the blog.

So the new office is a great space for us to grow into. The knitters are more comfortable, there is more storage space and we can prepare a small retail area at the front. The main purpose of the space remains a workshop and office, but it will be nice to be able to showcase our products to guests, visitors and potential buyers.

The first photo is looking in. This is a standard one and half floor sized Khmer 'pteah laveang'. The room at the bottom is about 4m by 10 meters with a decently sized kitchen/eating area and bathroom in the back. The front portion of this room has a high ceiling and, overall, the room is quite cool even in the hot season. The back half, where you see the CK staff working, will be the work area.

The front area is where we'll set up some displays, photos and information. This is a work in progress and we've got some way to go. Within the next month we'd like to have it ready for visitors though.

A tiny staircase leads up to this small, half room. It's bigger than most of it's kind and works really well for a small office. With only three of us in here, its spacious really. Again, we need to spruce it up and personalize it a bit, but all in due time.

We're all really happy with the space and I'm happy to have a commute to work again that is further than my dining room. I agonized about the colour for a while, but in then end stuck with the colour orange despite all the nays (they thought I was loco). I think it looks great, comfy and friendly!

So if you're in town, come for a visit. We're at House #146D, Street 376 just off street 113 in BKK3.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Australia Bound

Sorry for the silence the past couple weeks, but its been busy. There is lots to write about, but I'll start with our upcoming trip to Australia.

We'll be flying into Sydney on March 18th, heading to Canberra area for a wedding on the 20th and then finish off the final few days in Sydney. During that time I'll try to do some presentations on Cambodia Knits in Young, Canberra and Sydney so if you are in those areas, stay tuned for more info (or email me for details). And, if you're in Australia and have ever wanted to get your hands on some of our products, send me an email at and I'll send you a catalogue.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Silk making

As we are hoping at some point in the future to knit with local silk yarn, I 'investigated' the silk making process at the fair in Siem Reap a few weeks ago. There were two booths set up that sold locally produced silk, one which displayed the silk making process and the other, the silk weaving process. Just because it's really interesting, I'm posting the wormy photos here with a brief explanation of what's going on.

First, very little, tiny, tiny worms. So tiny you can't really see them, but I promise they are there.

The worms eat and eat and eat mulberry leaves and get bigger.

They keep gorging and get bigger and juicier. Yum, big juicy silk worms.

After a few weeks of non-stop eating action, the silk worms decide it is time to move onto the next stage in life and hide themselves in a cocoon of beautiful, golden silk.

Unfortunately, for the silk worms, humans love silk and the only way to get it from the cocoon is to boil the unsuspecting worms alive. Silk is not vegan-friendly.

The threads of many cocoons are spun together into a single thread. Slowly each cocoon is unraveled back to its origin, a now expired silk worm, which like anything organic, can be eaten.

And finally, after dying using local natural dyes, from bark, leaves, indigo, the finished product: silk.

Unfortunately, like so many things, silk production was all but decimated under the Pol Pot regime and has yet to recover. There are a couple organizations working to help revive the industry, but it's a slow process. Most silk products sold in Cambodia are made from imported silk which is then dyed and woven in country. If we are ever able to source local silk yarn, it will be in very small quantities and only for exclusive, small lines of products.