local yarn shop

Love your LYS - either online or in person


In the face of the relentless encroachment of online shopping and the large commercial companies all using their considerable resources to vie for our attention, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of it all. So much is made of the convenience of online shopping, the speed and the price that it's easy to just shrug your shoulders and go with the flow.

But even the snazziest of websites, with all their glossy photos and shiny banners can’t hope to compete with the sensory overload that is a yarn shop. As knitters and crafters we are tactile creatures. Never more at home than when using our senses to see, touch, smell and even listen to yarn. Don’t laugh - don't tell me you don’t love the pleasing crunch that a rustic tweedy yarn makes when you squish it between your fingers?

Such is the effect of a yarn shop that many knitters will simply stop on crossing over the threshold and take a moment just to look around and let their senses acclimatise to the dazzling array of colours and textures on offer.

Now tell me the last time that buying from a website made you feel like that. Did your heart skip a beat as you opened up the web page. Did you pause to appreciate the joy as you clicked the checkout button? I very much doubt it.

It’s important to note that I make an exception in this to online shopping with indie dyers such as Countess Ablaze and Eden Cottage Yarns. Both of these yarns I rarely get to meet in person so online shopping really is the next best thing to plonking myself down in their studios for a cup of tea and a yarn squish.

As well as the sense of community that a yarn shop can foster - the classes, the expertise and help available, the knitting groups and just the sheer joy of being around like minded people and it’s clear that buying yarn online is a very poor relation.

Now I know there are times when it just isn’t possible to buy yarn in an LYS. Not every town has one for a start or it may not stock what you need. Difficulties with transport, with access and choice can all play a part and leave you reaching for the mouse instead.

But when you do, as we all do from time to time please bear in mind that you have a choice over where you spend your hard earned money. Unlike with book buying online (where Amazon has pretty much annihilated the competition) the same isnt true - yet - of yarn shopping.

You could chose to click on one of those well known online yarn giants whose well placed Google Ads fall so conveniently at the top of the search screens. Or you could choose to scroll a little and shop online from one of the many UK LYSs who have fabulous websites and offer a great alterative online shopping experience.

After all, it may not be a yarn shop local to you but it is still local to someone else. And even if the small independent yarn shop is solely online (as opposed to being a bricks and mortar shop) your money will still go into the local economy where that small business is based.

Just as convenient - you can still shop for yarn at 10pm in your PJs. Just as easy - modern websites and payment systems means that even the smallest of LYS can invest in a slick purchasing system and in a few clicks that yarn can be on it’s way to you.

The difference is that you will have the peace of mind that knowing you have supported a real person, a real small (often family run) business. A real LYS that doesn't have the advertising budget to compete with the “big box” stores but which still very much has a valuable service to offer.

So, as it was Yarn Shop Day on May 12th, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t need a special day to remind us. What if every day was an LYS Day - where we make a conscious choice to support our LYSs - even if they are miles away from where we live.


Indie Love


While I was away my brain was fizzing with ideas for the next few months and first up is my plans to devote the month of September to promoting the work of our fabulous indie dyers, yarnies and designers. Over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group we have been watching with dismay as various local yarn shops have closed down and the big high street stores seem ever more visible with their huge advertising budgets and near domination of our Facebook feeds. Just one search for baby acrylic and it seems that adverts for the likes of Deramores will crop up on your feed from now to eternity.

With that in mind I'd like to do something within the group to promote the many and varied alternatives to the high street behemoths. I'll be running a weekly thread within the group and inviting you to post anything that you've done to help an independent business. Whether you have visited your LYS, bought from an online indie store, bought some hand-dyed yarn or knitted a pattern from an indie designer., even just recommended an indie person to a friend. It all counts.

The intention is to give us all a bit of inspiration and to perhaps find some wonderful new indie suppliers. 

Word of mouth and personal support are so important to our indie suppliers and can make all the difference. It really is a case of "use them or lose them".


4 ways to support your LYS - without buying yarn

Limited edition LYS Colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners

Limited edition LYS Colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners

Saturday May 6th is Local Yarn Shop day here in the UK - seriously one of my favourite days of the year.

I am lucky enough to be teaching a Socks for beginners class at my LYS - The Sheep Shop in Cambridge and afterwards Third Vault Yarns will be doing a talk and Trunk Show which is all very exciting.

We are so lucky to have exciting and vibrant local yarn shops here but I know that there are certain areas of the country where this isn't the case and it's important that we show our LYS's some love all year round - not just on May 6th.

So here a few ways you can support your LYS

1. Buy yarn obviously. I could be preaching to the converted here (in fact I suspect I am) but even though online buying is quick and convenient nothing beats the squish factor. Getting up close and personal with your intended purchases is far more satisfying than through a computer screen.

2. Tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is a great tool in encouraging more people to visit an LYS. Alternatively leave an online review for your LYS to help inform others.

3. When you do visit an LYS - share it on social media. Check in there on Facebook and show off your purchases. It all helps to share awareness among your wider social group.

4. Participate in Knit Nights or other group events in the shop

5. Even if you are on a yarn diet, do you need new needles, stitch markers or scissors - every little helps.

If you aren't local to Cambridge there are some fabulous events going on around the UK. You can find a list of participating stores here.

If I was further north I would most certainly be making a beeline for the Countess Ablaze's new dye studio in Manchester for one of her legendary soirees. Or in London, Anna at Wild and Woolly is hosting a fabulous event featuring The Wool Kitchen and Travel Knitter amongst others.

It's going to be a fabulous day. Whatever you do - even if it is just leaving an online review for your LYS or telling a friend about them I hope you enjoy the day and that you can help to share the love for our LYS's.