Satuday was Yarn Shop Day: a day dedicated to celebrating everything that’s great about your local bricks-and-mortar yarn shop. Now in it’s third year, the day is promoted by Let’s Knit magazine as a campaign to support independent knitting shops across the UK.
Never one to turn down a yarn shop visit, and more than happy to support this lovely idea, I dutifully gravitated towards my own local yarn shop on Saturday afternoon to spend some time wandering around that familiar space; appreciating the wool, stacked high in its cubed shelving like insulation lining the walls; the needles, hanging neatly on the pillar in the centre of the shop; and the friendly faces crowded round the small table to the left of the till, chatting about knitting patterns and exchanging tips over the rhythmic hum of clicking needles.
Perched on the corner of a Victorian grey granite tenement block in Rosemount, Wool for Ewe is Aberdeen’s only independent yarn shop. Located to the north of the city centre, Rosemount is characterised by its community feel; and the knitting shop is nestled comfortably amongst the array of pleasantly traditional independent businesses lining Rosemount Place: the butcher, the cheese shop, the cake shop, and a cluster of boutiques and vintage shops. The area is a refreshing contrast to the fast paced commercialism of the city centre, and Wool for Ewe is like a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered by the knitters of the city who are looking for something that can’t be found in Hobbycraft or the John Lewis haberdashery. Needless to say, it’s a firm favourite of mine.
Usually quiet when I make the occasional after-work pilgrimage; the shop was busy when I stepped in on Saturday and I had to weave in and out of other local yarn admirers as I made my way round. Yarn Shop Day festivities were in full swing as free patterns were advertised, beginner projects passed out to encourage younger knitters, and glasses of Prosecco and cups of tea offered. Prosecco and wool shopping – what else could you want on a Saturday afternoon?!
After several laps of the shop, I decided upon a relatively modest yarn purchase (it was Yarn Shop Day after all, I couldn’t not buy something…): two small hanks of Manos Silk Blend Fino in Stellar. Manos Del Uruguay, The Hands of Uruguay, is a non-profit organisation which aims to bring economic and social opportunities to the rural women of Uruguay. A blend of Merino and Silk, the yarn is hand dyed in large kettles so no two hanks are exactly alike. The gorgeous colours caught my eye and, combined with the charitable cause, I felt that it was a fitting ‘special’ purchase for Yarn Shop Day.
I left the shop hoping that everyone else leaves with the same sense of satisfaction that I do; and that everyone else has the same soft spot for their local yarn shop. You can find almost every yarn imaginable on the internet, and I think we’ve all – myself included – been guilty of getting carried away on Love Knitting, Wool Warehouse and other wonderful websites that can deliver yarn beautifulness to your doorstep at the click of a button – who wouldn’t?
But on the internet you can’t find the feeling of unexpectedly stumbling across a beautiful hank of yarn hidden at the back of a shelf; the pleasant surprise of discovering a yarn shop down a side street in a foreign city; or the act of handling the yarns, feeling the different fibres as you try to decide which to buy amidst an inner struggle of bank balance versus yarn addiction whilst a fellow knitter looks on sympathetically, because they’ve been there too.
For me, these experiences are all part of what it means to be a knitter and, although I may like the occasional yarn delivery straight from the internet, I know that I will always return to my local yarn shop, and that I will continue to feverishly seek out the local yarn shops of other cities; because, to me, this is what it means to fully immerse myself in the world of knitting and yarn.