Yarn Shop Day 2017 – Cityknits/Christine’s Wool Shop
It’s not often that you’ll find me at the train station at 7.30am on a Saturday morning, but last weekend I was raring to go and bounded out of bed to get ready to leave in a way that would have been unrecognisable on a school morning. I was off to Bournville, near Birmingham, for Yarn Shop Day and I was going to spend the day at Christine’s Wool Shoptalking yarn and socks all day. Talk about spoilt! That’s just my kind of day!
It’s really easy to get to Bournville by train and the station is very convenient if you want to visitCadbury World which is a great day out to visit the chocolate factory. (Apparently you can smell the chocolate when they’re making it which is very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and infinitely better than the distinctive smell of soap powder from the Lever Brothers factory in Warrington, or the smell of brewing beer from the Tetley brewery where I used to work many years ago – urgh!)
Christine’s is a short distance from the station in Bournville village, which was built as a model village for the workers at the Cadbury factory. There are quite a few model villages around the country which were built as self-contained communities offering decent living accommodation and leisure-time activities for the workers of the factories, provided by the philanthropic industrialists who owned them (Port Sunlight on the Wirral is the closest to us, and I went to visit Saltaire in Yorkshire with Lucy about 18 months ago). They are leafy suburbs outside of the cities and the workers who moved to live there after cramped city-dwelling must have thought they had died and gone to heaven.
The yarn shop is situated in a small row of independent shops including a jewellers, a butcher, a bakery, a flower shop, a chemist and a newsagents (just the sort of shops you want on your doorstep!) and is run by three sisters: Sally, Julie and Caroline who are left to right on this photo underneath their fabulous Yarn Shop Day mandalas.
The shop originally belonged to their Mum (Christine – of course!) but when she sadly passed away a few years ago, they took up the mantle and decided to continue running it themselves along with their Dad; as well as Yarn Shop Day, they always get involved in fundraising for Marie Curie and have raised thousands of pounds to donate towards the charity in memory of their Mum. They’ll be joining in with the Marie Curie Tea Party on 10 June which is guaranteed to be a great day so if you missed Yarn Shop Day, there’s another good opportunity to visit!
Here’s the row of shops where you can find Christine’s.
It’s in a lovely leafy street (appropriately called Sycamore Road) with a wide pavement that’s just perfect for outdoor knitting, fortified by tea and cake. Oh, the cake! There was so much of it, and it was all wonderful. Cupcakes, Kendal mint cake brownies, this gorgeous Yarn Shop Day cake … it was no wonder I didn’t need any dinner when I got home!
Christine’s feels like a yarn shop should do; a part of a thriving community where customers are recognised and welcomed and – most importantly – want to come back again. This is what Yarn Shop Day is about. It’s a wonderful opportunity for shops and customers to connect and whilst regulars often don’t need another excuse to visit, events like Yarn Shop Day are vital to remind those who don’t knit or crochet on a regular basis that the shops are still there and vital to a vibrant, diverse community.
Julie, Caroline and Sally were kept busy all day and had extra help in the shape of shop regulars Kate (who made the yarn bombing and mandalas hanging outside), Maureen, Doreen and Rhi who were buzzing around all day to help answer questions and reach for yarn …
Reach for yarn? Yes, you did hear me right – and here’s what I mean!
Still can’t see it? I’m not surprised, the shop is pretty busy and this was at a relatively quiet moment! Look at this picture …
There is yarn from floor to ceiling and in pretty much every available space in the shop. There’s a special pole to help get the yarn down from the very top and look … can you see there’s a section of yarn skeins in the middle of the picture below? Those skeins and four blocks to the right (up to the jumper) is all sock yarn. Floor to ceiling sock yarn!! Every colour of the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply range (which apparently some people use for projects other than socks 😉 ), King Cole Zig Zag, Katia, Rico, Opal … there was a ball of yarn for all tastes and that was just for the socks!
There was also a whole section of Stylecraft Special DK in every colour that they produce – I thought I’d spotted most of them in Lucy’s studio but there were colours there that I’d never seen before – and by the end of the day there were huge gaps in all of the sections as the yarn sold out. There are going to be a lot of projects in progress!
I was kept very busy all day chatting about socks and sometimes I even spoke about other knitting projects. Not often, it has to be said, but I did. I had my own table near the door with sample needles which makes it so much easier if you’re looking for a sock needle to buy as you can try them out before you do.
It’s always fascinating to find out about other people’s sock knitting preferences – toe up, top down, two at a time … there were even a couple of conversations about knitting one sock inside the other which isn’t something that I’ve tried, although it might be fun to give it a go one day. I like to see socks knitted in other yarns that I’ve not used and I always like to try to spark someone’s interest to give it a go themselves if they’ve never knitted socks before.
As much as I enjoy chatting online, it’s really lovely to be able to meet up with people in real life (and being by the door always helps as I can pounce on them as they come in J), and I especially love it if they’ve brought socks to show off!
Oh, you can see in the two pictures above that I finished the pair of WYS “catnip” socks in Sherbet Fizz that I started a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a few people ask me about joining in different colours so I’m going to create a tutorial to show you how it’s done in case it’s not something that you’ve tried before – I’m hoping to have that out in a week or so.
Here’s more of that catnip yarn specially dyed in Yarn Shop Day colours – Julie, Sally and Caroline very kindly sent me home with a few balls of WYS yarn and this one of them so I’m definitely looking forward to casting that on!
I must show you this as well because it’s not often that I’ll post a picture of me with my jaw dropping … this is a still from the short Yarn Shop Day video on the Cityknits Facebook page and there’s a very good reason why I’m looking like that.
Remember at the beginning of the post that I said the shop was in Bournville, next to the Cadbury factory? I was absolutely thrilled to be given this chocolate plaque, beautifully decorated by the super-talented Dawn, one of the shop customers who works at Cadbury’s – hence the dropping jaw! I don’t know how I’m going to bear to break it up to eat it but it would be a waste not to, so I’ve taken photos so that I can always remember it. It was the best surprise – and you can see why!
Never mind the cat who got the cream, I’m the Mum who got the chocolate! J
These days always go too fast, don’t they? It’s a bit like Yarndale where I can spend the whole weekend chatting and still it feels as if there’s not enough time to talk to everybody. This is the third Yarn Shop Day that I’ve been involved with and each one has been brilliant, and each year the number of shops that get involved has grown. I think events like this are really important if we’re going to keep our bricks and mortar shops open; yes, often online is cheaper and easier but you can’t beat being able to go into a shop to squish, to chat and to get an instant feel-good hit from being surrounded by so much yarn. It’s really important for our own community well-being that we support our yarn shops as much as they support us in our crafting endeavours and I’ll always be happy to do what I can to help with that.
If you made it to a Yarn Shop Day event near you, I hope you had a fantastic time, and if not then hopefully there’ll be an opportunity for you to do so next year – here’s to next year’s Yarn Shop Day!
With huge thanks to Caroline, Sally and Julie for looking after me so well and for generous treats of yarn and chocolate – I had such a lovely day with you all! xxx