A woolly wonderland – Visit to Yarn Etc, Harrogate

A couple of Saturdays ago, I got up early and headed to the train station – destination Harrogate.  I haven’t been to Harrogate for a long long time, so when I met up with Fiona who owns Yarn Etc earlier this year and she invited me to visit, I was keen to go – not least because I’ve heard such good things about her yarn shop!

I love this photo, I think the shop looks so cosy and welcoming – and it really is!

It wasn’t dark when I got to Harrogate – but I did worry that it might be!  It’s quite a drive to Harrogate from Winwick so I thought that a train journey (OK, all that train knitting!) would be a good idea.  Unfortunately for me, Northern Rail thought otherwise and one cancelled train after another meant missed connections and delays, although I was less stressed about it all as I had my sock with me.  How on earth do people who don’t knit or crochet manage at times like this?!

A photo of purple and pink striped knitted sock on a small circular knitting needle. The sock is resting on a purple rucksack and the colours match very well.

I mentioned recently that I was attempting to improve my Continental knitting and this seemed like as good a time as any to continue!  This is 4ply yarn (previously I’d been knitting 8ply); it’s a hand-dyed sock yarn from HeyJay Yarns and, of course, my Basic 4ply Socks pattern.

I was an hour later than planned getting to Harrogate, and I was very glad to see the shop and the brew that was quickly made for me!  I’d heard that the shop was bursting at the seams with yarn – and you can see that that is absolutely the case!

A photo of the interior of a yarn shop. In the centre is a long table covered with baskets of yarn, pattern books and knitted sock and hat samples. There are three ladies in the centre of the picture - one seated at the table on the left wearing a black spotty top, one standing behind the table wearing a rust-coloured cardigan and one seated at the table on the right wearing a grey cardigan. She is holding a mug of tea and all three are laughing. Behind them on every wall are balls of yarn, knitting needles, knitted garments and pattern books and kits.

This was the view that greeted me as I walked in – so much yarn!  There’s more round the corner too – it really is in every available space!  The three ladies in the picture are all called Fiona – Fiona on the left teaches the knitting workshops and left-handed crochet, Fiona in the middle owns the shop and Fiona on the right teaches the crochet workshops.  You’ve only got to look at them to see how well they get on – and that comfortable atmosphere is tangible as soon as you walk into the shop.  It’s no wonder the knit nights are so popular and the workshops are sold out very quickly!

Here’s the yarn round the corner, plus pattern books galore.  From laceweights to super-chunky, dishcloth cottons to – yes, of course! – sock yarns, it’s all there in the shop.  Jamieson and Smith, Stylecraft, Fyberspates, Scheepjes, King Cole … I would be very surprised if anybody came into the shop and didn’t find what they were looking for from the extensive range.  In fact, there is so much of it that there’s a list on the website which makes it much easier if you’re looking for something in particular!

Did I mention there was sock yarn?  😀

A photo showing a display of sock yarns. There is a storage unit with nine square sections, each full of balls of yarn. On top of the unit is a basket on the left containing knitting patterns, balls of yarn in the centre, a stand containing Winwick Mum Super Socks and More Super Socks books and a basket on the right containing balls of sock yarn.

Fiona doesn’t sell WYS yarn because there’s another shop close by that stocks it, so she has made a point of choosing other yarns that make excellent socks: CoopKnits Socks Yeah!, Bergere de France Goomy, Grundl Hot Socks (I made my Dad a few pairs in this yarn, it knits up really well) in stripes and a wide range of solids, Opal, Regia, Schoppel-Wolle, hand-dyed yarns … this is a really good range to try out if you’re looking for something a bit different!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody in the shop except us (and Fiona’s Mum) but the reality is that I waited for quiet moments to take my photos so that you could see all the yarn!  I had a lovely time chatting to the people who came into the shop to show me their socks – I never get tired of chatting about socks!

A photo showing four pairs of socks on foot forms standing on a table. In the foreground is some knitting on needles in turquoise yarn and a selection of packets of knitting needles

One of the workshops offered in the shop is a sock knitting workshop, based on my Sockalong pattern and taught by Fiona (the lady on the left in the earlier picture).  Going to a class suits some people better than learning online, and there’s a thriving sock-knitting community based at the shop.  New for next year is the Well Heeled Sock-a-long, aimed at those who are confident at knitting socks already.  You’ll have read in my last post that I have Knitalong planned for January but of course that will be online – the Yarn Etc Sock-a-long has regular meet up sessions at the shop so if it suits you better to sit with a group, then this might be one for you to consider instead (or as well as – there’s no reason why you can’t do them both!)  The Well Heeled Sock-a-long will knit 6 pairs of socks over the year covering a variety of techniques which sounds like a great idea to me – I’ve always said that if you can knit socks, you can knit anything, and expanding your technique range will only improve your knitting of other projects too!

If socks isn’t your thing (it’s OK, it’s allowed for socks not to be your thing 😀), then the Blanket KAL might be.  The blanket KAL that ran this year for improver knitters was a huge success and there are only a few places left to take part for next year.  This is another KAL that has regular sessions in the shop; it’s a great way to meet up with fellow knitters and, especially over the winter months, to actually get out of the house in the evenings as it’s very tempting to just stay in with the curtains drawn.  You can find all of the session dates for the Sock and Blanket KALs here.

Also, Monday night is the Yarnaholics knitting group from 7.00-9.00pm, and it was really lovely to chat to people who say that this group has been a highlight of their week, both in terms of learning their craft but also in being part of a supportive community.  I don’t think we can ever underestimate what good a few hours of being in like-minded company every now and again can do for us!

As well as more yarn than you can shake a stick at, Fiona has a HUUUUGE selection of needles – and a good choice of sock needles too.  I love this – it’s not always that easy to find sock needles in yarn shops (although it’s definitely much better than it used to be!) so to have a choice of brands as well as the sizes is fab!

You might have thought I was over-exaggerating earlier when I said that every available space was taken up with yarn – but I wasn’t!  There is just so much in here!

There’s a big blackboard up on the wall with the upcoming workshops on it, but that is only a small number of them – Fiona has her workshops lined up until Christmas next year!  You can see them all here.

Seriously, there’s something yarny in every available space.


And this is Ewenique, the shop mascot, just having a quiet moment with some woolly friends!  You can read about Ewenique’s musings over on the website!  (2022 update – Ewenique has retired from musing 🙂 )

Fiona is working hard to make sure that Yarn Etc is a place where people can come together, whether they knit, crochet or enjoy other crafts.  There’s even a book group!  I love this about bricks and mortar shops; that there’s the opportunity to offer so much more than just a sale – you can buy pretty much anything online these days, but often we want more than a transactional experience and we should cherish the shops (whatever they sell!) which can give us this.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Yarn Etc and would highly recommend that you pop in if you’re in the Harrogate area.  Oh, and if you needed any more excuse, the famous Yarn Etc one day sale is on from 10am to 4.30pm on Friday 4 January 2020 – what better time to visit?!

Yarn Etc, 17 Knaresborough Road, Harrogate, HG2 7SR, 01423 885565, [email protected]

Thank you so much to Fiona for inviting me to Yarn Etc, and for looking after me so well! xx


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3 Responses

  1. happy hooker says:

    I haven't been to Harrogate for years, but this looks like a good excuse for a visit. I'm salivating at all the gorgeous yarn. A real woolly heaven!
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful, peaceful Christmas. xx

  2. Caz says:

    Wow, what a wonderful shop. Thank you for sharing your visit with us.
    Happy Christmas xx

  3. Susan Rayner says:

    What a wonderful shop! Harrogate is a lovely town and I only wish we could have some gorgeous yarn shops like this in the South! I am sure there a lots of knitters and hookers whatever – but enormous rents and council taxes have forced all the LYS to shut over the past 20 years! Tragic! I hope the very lucky people of Harrogate support the Fionas for many years to come!

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