I used to live in London. In London, there is no shortage of lovely, independent yarn shops. Three years ago we relocated down to Kent, which is lovely for a lot of reasons; the countryside, the sea breeze, people saying hello to you when you leave the house, everybody not being in a rush all the time, and (my particular favourite) the abundance of good, seasonal, cheap farm shops and farmers markets which make it really easy to eat local produce all year round. This is important to me. Since I was a teenager, the idea of self – sufficiency has appealed strongly, however living in a rented flat with a communal garden managed by the building agents, that’s a far off goal at the moment. My substitution for it is buying local & handmade produce as much as I possibly can. I’m not saying I never shop in chains, or online, but I definitely do so a lot less than other people (Etsy being the exception. I’m obsessed), and I love to feel that I’m supporting my local community, and in all honesty, getting a better quality of product in the process.
When it comes to yarn, I’ve hit a snag. My favourite thing about shopping (for yarn, but also in general) is choice. Yes, I want to be able to get the yarn that I go in for, but I also like to be able to browse around and find something unexpected and beautiful that I just have to add to my stash. Around these parts, that’s difficult. There is a yarn shop in the town where I live, and I do go in from time to time, and I do buy things. Currently I’m knitting a jumper for my son with yarn purchased from there (Jenny Watson Babysoft DK, for those who are interested) which is lovely and soft and knits very well, but was definitely not cheap. But aside from that, here’s what I have in the vicinity:
– my favourite yarn shop/haberdashery is 16 miles away, with no direct bus or train link so I have to plan ahead and make a big list for when we go.
– In the town that I work in (also 16 miles from where I live. You wouldn’t believe it from this post but I actually don’t live in the middle of nowhere!) there is a branch of a chain shop which has a pretty good haberdashery, but it’s way more expensive than the independents.
– There is a Hobbycraft about 3 miles up the road, but the more I shop for yarn there the less I like it. I do it pretty much because of their 3 for 2 offer and the fact that they generally stock the core colours in the yarn I need for my toy making. I also occasionally take advantage of said offer to buy pretty yarn that I’ve lusted after for ages, but unexpected, different yarn? Not so much.
– While googling yarn shops in my local area I have just discovered that there is apparently another one that I must have walked past a few times on trips before, but even that’s not particularly close.
Yes, I sound like I’m whinging, and I’m not really. It’s not that I don’t enjoy shopping for yarn in what’s available to me locally, it’s just there there are so many fewer yarn shops accessible by walking/public transport than I would like, and I find myself reverting to Hobbycraft a lot more than makes my local community minded self comfortable.
That said, I have started to explore, via the genius of the internet, the possibilities of amazing yarn shops around the country. We tend to do quite a bit of random travelling within the UK, so I’m hoping my research will allow me to just be able to drop in to some of the amazing places I’ve discovered.
Do you have a fantastic local yarn shop I should know about? Where do you buy your yarn? 🙂