My own favourite local place to buy yarn is in Mullan's along the Promenade in Portstewart. Don't be fooled by the ladies' clothing in the window because there is a veritable treasure trove of wool, buttons and accessories at the back of the shop and lots of knitted examples of the patterns on sale. The colours, textures and patterns are to die for and always a new sample from the latest trade show. There are always samples of many of the patterns hanging on display around the shop or in the window and some of these are for sale. Gerardette is very friendly, supportive and enthusiastic and she also helps to run the Knit and Natter Group in the local Library. This group along with customers of the shop knit tiny baby hats for the neo-natal unit at a local hospital and also twiddle muffs for dementia sufferers. It was Gerardette who introduced me to the liquorice allsort blanket last year. Gerardette also provides seating for husbands who have to patiently await wives discussing and choosing wool because a visit here is never a short one.
Another reason as to why the shop sticks out in Elaine's memory is because it had a laminate wooden floor, breaking new ground ahead of the fashion rage years later! Today with the abundance of textures, colours and weights of wool it is a far cry from the basic DK and bland colours of back then, differentiated only by DK, baby and aran! But to an 8 yr old this shop was a veritable Aladdin's Cave and has stood the test of time in Elaine's memory - a true mark of class. Sadly the shop no longer exists but remains the 'bar' in Elaine's psyche to which all other wool shops have to adhere to.
Teaching Catherine took herself off to Parlour Yarns in Carrickfergus for Yarn Shop Day.
For Hooking Helena a trip to Mullan's in Portstewart is always a bit of a problem, in the very nicest sort of way of course. What to choose from the extensive range and how much she can get away with buying without her 'long-suffering, wool-widower' husband finding out about. Additionally, there is the issue of storage at home, but there is always under the bunks in the caravan ..... Sssshhh dont tell her husband! On Yarn Shop Day Helena was very determined only to buy two balls of super chunky needed for a Nordic flower cushion cover - but which colour to choose? Luckily Gerardette had two contrasting colours beside each other and Helena could hear her husband sigh with relief.
Little did Helena's husband realise that this was only the first yarn shop visit of the day. Next stop was a certain cash and carry in the local area where cheaper DK wool is well stocked.
This cheaper wool is very good for knitting charity blankets or for items which need frequent washing. Oh what a choice of colours they had and all DK! Twenty minutes later, and in record time, Helena had chosen 10 different coloured balls and had paid for them at the till. Phew!
Our farthest traveller has to be Sheila who was in Norway. Sheila didn't buy any wool because she had no idea of the Norwegian Kroner prices in the shop or the value for money because of currency exchange. The shop was in Aldasnes, Norway, and she visited whilst on a cruise to celebrate a 'big' birthday last year. From memory the wool was all very thick and was in very dull colours which was disappointing since Norway is the land of the Northern Lights and associated with the Scandinavian tradition of patterned sweaters. Sheila hopes to go back some day and she will definitely buy some wool to bring back as a memory and keepsake.