Knitting month: yarn shops explained
Welcome to the Cosy Craft Club's knitting month! We really want to encourage you to have a go at knitting yourself, and we'll be sharing the key things you need to know to get started. You can find all our knitting posts in one place here.
It's a bit silly, but despite falling in love with knitting this year, I'd never set foot in a yarn shop. I guess my main fear was that the yarn would be super fancy and expensive, but also I find their walls filled with a million different types of yarn a bit bewildering. But I was curious. And I thought you might be too. So I swallowed my silly fears and headed to my local wool shop - A Yarn Story on Walcot Street in Bath.
Once I walked through the door, I was a bit nervous - apart from one other customer and the shop owner, Anna, the shop was empty. But once Anna and I got talking, her enthusiasm for her shop and yarn was contagious!
Anna is passionate about yarns made from wool, as opposed to acrylic or other plastics, and most of the yarn in her shop is wool (plus some alpaca and others). As she told me, garments knitted with wool will last a lot longer and create a higher quality knit. You do have to wash them carefully, but they can be hand washed at home (some wool yarns are called 'superwash' and can go in a washing machine).
When you walk into a yarn shop, the balls of yarn are generally arranged by weight. So if you know what weight you need for a pattern, you can head to the right area of the shop. And then you can look at the colours, brands and types of yarn available in that weight to choose something that you think will work.
There's nothing like handling the yarn to see what it's really like (something you can't do in online shops). Think about how it feels, how squishy it is and how you think it might drape. The label on a ball of yarn will tell you a lot about it, such as how long it is, what it's made from, what size needles you should use with it and how to wash it. And of course, yarn shops generally have very helpful staff if you're still struggling to choose.
Yarn shop owners will only be too keen to help if you want to learn how to knit, or learn new knitting skills. Many, including A Yarn Story, hold workshops of different types. A Yarn Story also hosts a weekly 'surgery' when you can turn up and get help with anything knitting or crochet related. Anna also recommended the book 'Guys Knit' by Sockmatician (published by Haynes) as a great one for beginners (women included!).
After standing in the shop chatting about wool for a few minutes, it really did make me want to buy yarn and get knitting for myself! I hope this encourages you to check out your local wool shop - apart from anything else, it's good to support local small businesses. And you may just find some really great yarn too :)