Yarnbirds at Whaley Bridge

It’s Yarn Shop Day at the end of this week so it seems quite appropriate that I should be visiting yarn shops at both ends of the week!

On Saturday, I drove to Yarnbirds in Whaley Bridge, which is not far from Buxton in the Peak District, for a sock clinic and book signing.  It’s in the opposite direction to the way I drive up to Skipton – down the M6 rather than up, but the landscape looked familiar as I drove out of Stockport and into the small Peak District towns.  I love these rolling hills and stone walls, and despite the rather ominous-looking clouds, it was a warm and sunny day.  Just right for yarn shop visiting!

I’ve never been to Whaley Bridge before, although we’ve passed the turn-off many times when we’ve driven over to Buxton.  It’s always good to find a new place to explore!  Just as you get over the bridge into the town is the canal basin (again, I was reminded of Skipton!) and just a bit further on from there is Canal Street where Yarnbirds is situated.

Although Yarnbirds faces the main road, you have to turn off onto a side road at which point the maps function on my phone helpfully went into meltdown – “turn left!”, “turn right!”, “make a U-turn!”, “head north on the A1!” – but luckily I had spotted the large yellow building which Yarnbirds shares with the Pear Tree Cafe and was able to ignore the sat nav, even when it triumphantly announced, “You have reached your destination!”.  “No thanks to you!” I told it, and parked the car.

It felt a bit like going into a secret garden, pushing open the gate and crunching across the gravel drive.  Once inside the door, you are confronted with delicious smells from the cafe upstairs and displays of yarn and knitted samples … it’s like following the yellow brick road to the shop which is in a bright room to one side.

If you do visit, the Pear Tree Cafe is also well worth a visit – I can recommend the “all day brunch” of avocado, poached eggs, rocket and halloumi on toast.  Yarn shops and cafes do go together very well, I think!

This is Claire, who owns Yarnbirds.  She’s a lovely, jolly, friendly person and has a warm welcome for everyone who comes into the shop (and on this particular Saturday, there were a lot of them which was great to see!).  She really knows her stuff with her yarns and has a really good selection of them, from the inexpensive Drops sock yarns to beautiful hand-dyed silk and yak mixes and pretty much everything in between.

The shop isn’t huge but is crammed with yarns.  Juniper Moon Farm, Eden Cottage Yarns, Stylecraft, Rico – there’s a yarn for every project and to suit every budget.  I went to talk to people about socks but found myself discussing school projects, university knitting, clothes for grandchildren – it’s wonderful to know that knitting is spanning every age group in this little corner of the world!

In this photo, this central unit has been taken over by socks, but twice a week it transforms into a craft table for the hugely popular knit n natter groups.  I’ve written before about how important it is to have somewhere that you can go and be with like-minded people.  It doesn’t matter whether you actually do any knitting (I tend to spend more time chatting and then unpicking what I’ve done wrong because I was too busy chatting to get much knitting done at knit n natters!) or whether you just sit there in the company of kindred spirits with your cup of tea – what’s important is being part of the group and it’s always a huge boost to your wellbeing.

More hand-dyed yarns.  These are Peak District Yarns dyed by Carrie who came to the shop to say hello.  Her yarns are beautiful and yes, some of it did come home with me!  I love that Claire has local yarns in her shop – after all, you buy food locally to reduce “food miles” so why not buy yarn locally too? (Would that be reducing “yarn miles”?  Or “sheep miles”? 🙂 )

This is my skein.  It’s called “Sorbet” and although it hasn’t quite chosen what it wants to be  yet, I’m sure it won’t be long before it does.

It was lovely to be able to talk socks and admire socks with the people who came to the shop.  I do love to meet people and see what they’ve created!  The chairs were full, there was lots of happy conversation and there was even an impromptu Kitchener stitch workshop going on at one point!

Yarnbirds has only been open for two years but is going from strength to strength.  Claire has a good vision of what she wants from her shop and her focus on well-being and the knit n natter groups are an integral part of this vision.  I’m very glad.  It’s important that we have the opportunity to take part in these groups and with yarn shops closing down every week, it’s wonderful to see one that’s doing so well and is such an important part of the community.

If you’re in the Peak District area, it’s definitely worth taking a detour off the A6 to visit Whaley Bridge and the Yarnbirds shop (and the Pear Tree Cafe!) – you’ll be glad you did!

Yarnbirds, Pear Tree Cottage, 10 Canal Street, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23 7LS


2021 update – sadly, Yarnbirds is no longer in business but you can visit another local yarn shop in nearby New Mills if you’re in the area … Wiseheart & Wild … find the blog post for my visit there here.

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26 Responses

  1. misty says:

    Oh the pleasure of a mooch around some yarn and you'd given me just the reason when I was feeling fed up at the weekend. Happily, I'd seen the couthie so I ignored my stash and took myself out to my local shop in Droitwich to buy a ball just because …… What a nice little knit, Christine, thank you – and one day I really will have a go at socks.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That sounds like a lovely trip out, Misty! The Couthie pattern has just been updated to correct an error so please do make sure you've got the latest version dated 27.04.16 xx

  2. Amy at love made my home says:

    What a wonderful shop! It looks as though you had a wonderful time. Wish that I had a fabulous local yarn shop like that!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's a shame there aren't more fabulous yarn shops like this one, but the more we can support the ones we have, the slower the decline in the number of them in the country! xx

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would love to have such a beautiful shop near my town. It's a pity I live too far to visit it. Irune

  4. jconnolly12345 says:

    It was lovely to see your account of being at Yarnbirds. Last March we visited my son in Derby (we live in Kent) and on a bitterly cold Saturday, after a walk in the Peak District, we went in search of some lunch. We found the Peartree café and had a lovely lunch. Afterwards, I had to have a look around Claire's lovely shop, where I made a couple of purchases. As I was looking at some sock yarn, Clire asked if I made socks and I just had to show her the ones that I was wearing. She gave me a couple of balls of Drops Fabel to knit a sample pair for the shop.

    I went back there in August and bought some local yarn which I knitted into a Honey Cowl. Unfortunately, Claire was not here that time, she was at a show and I was sorry that I had missed seeing her. Hopefully, I'll make it back next time we visit our son. It's such a lovely and friendly yarn shop.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Wow, that's a lovely story, thank you for sharing it! There are a lot of sock knitters connected with the shop now and you'll have had a part in that so you should feel very proud! xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I don't know if you saw Claire's reply to your comment but here it is: Hi! You have no idea how many times those socks you knitted have been admired! Mostly, they invoked awe at how beautiful the stitches are, so thank you so much! I'm sorry I missed you in August, but please let me know when you are next in the area and I'll make sure I'm there [email protected]

    • jconnolly12345 says:

      Thanks for letting me know about Claire's reply. I really enjoyed my visits to her yarn shop.

  5. Unknown says:

    Hi! You have no idea how many times those socks you knitted have been admired! Mostly, they invoked awe at how beautiful the stitches are, so thank you so much! I'm sorry I missed you in August, but please let me know when you are next in the area and I'll make sure I'm there [email protected]

    • jconnolly12345 says:

      Thanks, Claire. I enjoyed knitting them. We hope to visit Derbyshire in the summer (having family all over the place means that we have to spread our visits out!) Will get in touch beforehand. Lovely to hear from you.

  6. Julie says:

    It sounds wonderful. I don't live too far away so I must find a reason to visit some time. Thank you for writing about the shop as I didn't know it was there.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's definitely worth a visit, Julie, and the knit n natter group sounds great if you can get to that too! xx

  7. sustainablemum says:

    What a wonderful shop! You are right about small yarn shops closing down, we have just lost ours :(. I do have others I can get too but they are not quite as a local and often require a special trip! I am glad I am not the only one who ends up unpicking her knitting when sitting nattering I do it all the time 😉

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I don't know why I bother doing any knitting at knit n natters as I always end up unpicking it! 🙂 xx

  8. Bernie Bentley says:

    I am so lucky to live close to Yarnbirds and Pear Tree Cafe, the knit and natter group at Yarnbirds is the highlight of my week plus I can get all my yarns at affordable prices from Yarnbirds plus plenty of help and advice.

  9. Unknown says:

    How much do I owe you Bernie?!

  10. Unknown says:

    I have added this to my list of "yarnie" places to visit when we return to the UK. The list gets longer day by day …. xxx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Which is all good news for the yarn shop industry – too many are closing down but as long as more open then the balance should be right! xx

  11. Christina says:

    I love local small yarn shops most of all. Our local one is thriving, which is good. It is astonishing how much yarn can be stashed in a small shop. I sure hope to visit the Peak District at one point in the future and maybe I'll even manage to visit the shop. x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Yes, you're right – I think the astonishing thing is just how much yarn can be stashed in even a small space (although it shouldn't be a surprise when you look around our houses!) 🙂 xx

  12. Lorraine says:

    Oh! Christine, what have I done? I just bought my first skein of Cuddlebums yarn and I'm HOOKED, it came with your pattern for the Couthie Shawl and I can't wait to start! Now I have to finish my current projects or they'll languish in the workbag for weeks! Lx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You've made an excellent choice in your yarn and you've got a project that will look fabulous when it's finished! The colours are rather addictive, aren't they? 🙂 xx

  13. Sue Pinner says:

    Hi Chris, great to meet you yesterday, loved the day at black sheep, started me on crochet socks again and a new spiral tube sock while away in York. Hope we meet up again soon, Sue x

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