Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Yarn Shop Day 2017

Saturday 6th May was Yarn Shop Day and I asked all the ladies to visit a yarn shop, buy some wool, take a pic of their favourite yarn shop, either of the outside of the shop or preferably of them shopping inside, or to write a few lines about their favourite yarn shop, the farthest one they have ever visited or the most expensive one they've ever been to.

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.
My other special woolshop is John Gregory's on the Ta Xbiex Seafront, Msida, Malta. It always strikes me as unusual that a country which is so warm has a wool shop which can sell aran, chunky, and super chunky wool.  But then I suppose if your summer temperatures are 40 degrees on average and your winter temperatures are in the mid-teens then the winters are relatively cold.  I always go and buy some yarn there when I'm on holiday and I knit or crochet a little something to remind me of that particular holiday.
From an early age Elaine the English teacher discovered wool, especially the smell of new wool in a wool shop.  She loved the smell when the door to Sew 'n' Knit in Canal Street, Newry, opened.  This was the shop Elaine's late mother used to frequent as she was a keen knitter and seamstress - buttons, wool, needles and hooks aplenty.  The owner was a very slight lady with bright auburn hair who at the time also wore the fashionable pink checked nylon coverall.

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.
Catherine speaks of this shop as a 'cave of delights' with yarn everywhere and too much choice. There was a warm welcome and lots of help to find her particular colours.  In other words, there was more money spent than anticipated and even more wool added to her stash!  However, there was a gift if you spent more than a certain amount of money -  a bag with two different balls of yarn, a DK and a JC Brett chunky, and a crochet magazine.  There was a raffle for all callers to the shop that day and Catherine was lucky enough to win the second prize of a set of clover crochet hooks in a nice case. Altogether a pleasant way to spend an hour.
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.


  1. Did nobody talk about the one near your hometown? The one that is full of everything, and has horses outside? Not my favourite, but still very impressive!

  2. The Glen Gallery? Maybe you or Niqi could add a bit about it below?

  3. Goodness, it's a farm place, with as much beauty inside as shelves and shelves and tables and counters could hold of buttons and yarns and books and hooks and all manner of accoutrements. Though all the tacky Irish souvenir distraction is scattered about there too. And i always feel intimidated by the hovering staff!

  4. My farthest and also most expensive is purl soho in NYC . I have bought wool for my dil but not myself there. Locally I shop in jeans wool shop , not really that local , in Belfast . Lately I've been buying home spun wool and loving it