When you book a holiday, what is the first thing you look for in that location? Is it the grocery shop? The pub? Or whether or not there is a good local yarn or fabric shop in the area? Or maybe that last one is just me …
It’s always interesting to me to find out what is happening, fibre-craft-wise, when I’m in a new place. But I also have a list of shops in the UK that I would like to visit ‘one day’. A ‘Fantasy Yarn Shop Crawl’, if you will. And here are three of the ones on my list, in no particular order. So please pull up a chair, grab a cuppa, and join me!
Now, the Countess does not do shows (*). She does not do wholesale. So if you want to get your paws on her yarn or fibre, you will need to buy online, or visit her studio. And a visit to Countess Ablaze has been on my wish list for ages. This is no ordinary yarn shop, mind you – it is a functioning dye studio. The only yarn sold there is Countess Ablaze yarn. When I first added Countess Ablaze to my list, they were based in Swinton and only open for visitors a couple of days a week. Now they have moved to glorious new premises in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. This is a functioning dye studio, but has two floors of showroom space. I’ve seen the pictures and it looks fabulous! And my inner 9-year-old is delighted to learn that there is a ‘fingering floor’ too. That’s referring to a yarn weight, in case you were wondering …
From the Countess Ablaze Facebook page “We are not a traditional yarn shop but a three storey building with two floors dedicated to yarn showrooms for you to have a mooch around in. We’re also DDA compliant as we have a lift. We sell our own hand dyed yarn and fibres as well as patterns, books and accessories.”
I am already the proud owner of a skein of Countess Ablaze yarn, which is now a Knit Night shawl by Loiuse Zass-Bangham, and a braid of Countess Ablaze fibre, which I am currently spinning up. But I’d still like to visit in person one day.
You can find Countess Ablaze at 21 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JJ. They are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. And they run a knit group on Saturdays at 1pm. For full details about visiting the Countess Ablaze studio, please hop over here.
(* though her yarn has been seen in the wild on very, very rare occasions, such as at Yarnporium in 2016 when Louise Zass-Bangham brought a selection with her.)
I met the lovely L-J all too briefly at Edinburgh Yarn Festival earlier this year, and she is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with some more and I would love to visit her shop in Dundee. If you follow her on Instagram (and you should!) you will already have seen her fun-filled videos. And she is the creator of Rusty Ferret yarn, with such great names as ‘Bru’d fae girders’, ‘Idiot Proof’ and ‘Kevin’.
I got my sticky little mitts on a skein of Rusty Ferret Doll in the ‘Paradoxum’ colourway at EYF, and it is lovely to work with. It is the ideal yarn for Louise Tilbrook’s Fuss Free Festival Shawl, one of my (many) current WIPs.
And … there are shop dogs too, though I don’t think they are for sale!
Fluph can be found at 164 Blackness Road, Dundee, DD1 5PQ. It is open Tuesday to Saturday. And there is a Knit Night on a Thursday evening, so bear that in mind when planning your visit!
And finally … this one is not even open yet, but I’d love to visit!
Kate Makin from Northern Yarn is opening her bricks and mortar store soon at 74 Penny Street, Lancaster. The shop is a joint venture between Northern Yarn and Penny Street Collectables. The grand opening is on Saturday September 2nd from 10am-4pm, with drinks, discounts and delectable woolly-based products for sale.
Kate launched Northern Yarn just over a year ago, starting with just a handful of yarn brands. It is a Lancaster-based yarn business that now produces and sells its own range of wool – Poll Dorset/Bluefaced Leicester ‘Northern Yarn’ – as well as many other well-known, local and British wool brands, including Lancashire Farm Wool, Masham, New Lanark and West Yorkshire Spinners. Northern Yarn is available in 4-ply and DK weights, either undyed or hand-dyed by Angela Gardner and Thorndolly Yarns.
Kate started Northern Yarn in May 2016 when she returned to her home county of Lancashire after living in London for 14 years. She sourced and created her own ‘Northern Yarn’ in October 2016. I love that her aim is to provide good quality British wool, with an emphasis on locally sourced yarn. She has a passion for her home county and the people and animals that live there. Since hearing about Kate’s Poll Dorset/Bluefaced Leicester yarn on a podcast recently, I have a hankering to try it for ‘no nylon’ socks.
She currently has a stall selling yarn, needles and other knitting accessories at Lancaster Market, but I’m thrilled that Kate will have a new home at 74 Penny Street, a permanent home for the beautiful, natural and hand-dyed wools she sells. Kate will be sharing shop space with Penny Street Collectables, an eclectic mix of unusual antiques and collectables, both new and old. This is owned and run by Jess Tubman, who will be selling vintage ceramics, glass and small bits of furniture. She will also stock Susie Watson Designs pottery and fabric, East of India and Two Bad Mice, among others.
I wish you all the best with your new shop, Kate. And if I’m passing …