Friday, 21 January 2011

Mmmm yarn...

I'm often asked how I choose the yarrns we stock and I guess the answer is 'with great difficulty'. I'm a real yarn lover from acrylics to cashmere, smoochy soft to ... erm ... rustic ... - I adore them all! We've had a slew of adorable new yarns this week so I thought I might bask in their glory and give you a glimpse into my life (it's a very good one...).

The first consideration for me is always colour. I like a good bright colour for myself (both to wear and to look at) but if it's just bright colours it's a no no for the shop because many of my customers suit a more relaxed, laid-back colour pallette. Also, a bigger colour range just looks 'better' in the shop (I never thought I'd be one for aesthetics but a rainbow of yarn fills me with joy).

I usually start with five to six colours of any one yarn and work my way up by ordering a few more colours each time I'm replenishing. I've done this with the Heritage DK and it's worked beautifully - look at this here rainbow:

Next I think about the price. We set out to be 'affordable' and that's just what we are. I don't see that as 'cheap', I see it as good value for money so I don't mind whether a yarn is 75p:

or £5:

as long as you're paying the right amount for the yarn. It's why we'll never stock Rowan or Noro et al. The yarns are simply divine but really? I'd like to knit without going bankrupt. And sometimes, just sometimes, a cashmere silk blend isn't appropriate for a baby jumper - we all need a good bit of acrylic in our lives.

Next I think about fibre blends. There's no doubt that wool is popular, we cater for wool-lovers with our beautiful 100% merino DK.

But a lot of our customers love a good useable, washable, wearable wool-acrylic mix and I think we've got that down!!! 11 out of our 24 brands of yarn are mixes and all bar one are washable which means that the time you spend knitting wont be wasted through felting and you'll have more of it rather than slaving over your hand washing.

Then I think about yarn weight. DK is without a doubt the most popular, it's makes a delicate enough fabric to be flattering but you're not knitting literally miles for the sake of one cardi. It's also the weight with the most amount of choice in terms of colours and mixes of colours (mostly because it's the most popular so the yarn companies tend to make more). We all know that  a DK is a good go-to for a hat, a jumper, mittens or anything really so I get a lot of that in.

I'm a big fan of 4-ply. I adore socks and I'm a glutton for punishment so a cardi in 4-ply is like heaven for me. I was lucky enough to chance upon Cygnet's Wool-rich 4-ply and with 21 colours in the range I haven't looked back!

Other weights may turn out to be more seasonal - I'm not sure how much call there'll be for super-chunky in August - we'll see. Aran is the most popular at the moment, it's a good transitional weight and all of the young and trendies seem to be walking up and down Mansfield Road wearing old men's arans as dresses (the look is growing on me...).

Finally, I ought to mention customer's input. Often, a customer comes in looking for just-the-right-colour/weight/fibre content and we'll spend a happy ten minutes flicking through sample books to find just the thing. It's often something I'd dismissed or not noticed but if you're shopping in this shop I trust your taste...

I'll leave it there I think - otherwise I'd be talking all day and I really have to get some tidying done - ahhh the crash back to reality...

Love Eleanor. :)

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