As National Yarn Shop Day approaches, UK Handmade portfolio member Helen Morton of Wilts Woollens explains the pleasures of stocking up.
Yarn is an addiction, honestly it is. I have met many seemingly sane people around the world whose spare rooms are crammed with boxes and shelves of the stuff!! You can easily spot these people, they are the ones furtively lurking by the front door waiting for yet another parcel or dragging their friends or partners on yet another long drive (on holiday) to “just check out this shop I spotted online”. All I can say is – I’m a yarn addict and I love it!
Initially the majority of my wool came from large online shops such as Deramores or Wool Warehouse. These are a very cheap and efficient way of buying large quantities of yarn at very good prices. Hey, they have their place and I still use them if I am making a big item like a throw or something cheap and cheerful. They often deliver within a day or two and definitely keep your overheads down.
However, these days I tend to be somewhat pickier about my yarn. This means I often chose smaller producers or individuals who spin their own wool. As yet, very sadly, I have not found a local wool shop which offers anything better than I can buy online. Wool shops have, of course, had to compete with the “big boys” and I am probably as much to blame as anyone for their demise.
So what would make a destination wool shop for me? I would want to find yarns that I may not have seen before, maybe from local spinners or hand dyers. I would like to go there to be inspired with patterns and colours and ideas for new designs. A friendly, encouraging and knowledgeable owner would be a boon, someone to suggest new ideas, yarns, methods and stitches. And, importantly, offer a social hub for experienced and new knitters and crocheters alike. Oh, and if they sold cake and coffee too I would move in! Just to let you know, when I win the lottery I will be opening this shop so keep your eyes open when you are next in Wiltshire.
I am a bit of a floosy when it comes to types of yarn; I flit between super chunky, 4ply, and DK. I also switch between knitting, crochet and Tunisian crochet. I think I have a short attention span. Once I have made something once I am very reluctant to make another item the same. I have turned down a lot of orders where customers wanted me to make the exact replica of something I had already made. I guess I need to be creating something new each time and once a piece is finished I am ready to move to the next thing.
Choosing what I do next is never difficult. I am on Instagram as Wilts Woollens and I have a constant stream of inspiration and ideas every day. I particularly find that the USA has a massive outpouring of creative talent and I have met some great new, creative friends this way. Sometimes it is a yarn that I see or maybe a pattern someone has designed. Sometimes it is just an idea that I spot that leads to me inventing something new. I have begun designing my own patterns for cushions and hats but this is just the start; I am completely obsessed with creating.
I have recently started working with Emma Turner of Alfie Purl Yarns. Emma’s flock provide her with the wool to dye and spin and I even get to play with the lambs. The colours she uses are all inspired by the Wiltshire countryside and I hope to work with her more in future. She is now teaching me to spin and in the future I intend to start dyeing my own fleeces. Watch this space!
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