Thursday, 7 May 2015

Local Yarn Shop Stars: Swansea Bay Yarns

You may be aware that it was the second year of Yarn Shop Day last Saturday here in the UK which aims to promote and celebrate local yarn shops (perhaps better known as Wool Shops to UK knitters) and the range of services they offer to the knitting community. This event was thought up last year by craft magazine publisher Aceville Publishing where shops across the UK participate in putting on a wide range of activities, promotional offers and events for knitters and crocheters.

I'm a great fan of the internet, however it's really important to support our local shops - whilst online shopping is convenient, yarn is such a tactile material you really can't beat being able to touch the yarn to know how the fibres feel, and colour is best seen for real and in daylight if you want to be able to see its true hue. Yarn shops also offer a focal point for the knitting community to gather in a more personable way than online forums can provide. Now I'm not knocking online forums either, by the way - you can share an awful lot of expertise from engaging with these and watching videos on YouTube. It's essential though to have some face to face contact too and enjoy all the other things our yarn shops have to offer such as advice, classes, inspiration and knitting groups - and many a new or known knitterly friend can be stumbled upon in your local store.

However, we all know it's a challenge for these shops to survive in today's economic climate. With the high overheads of running a bricks and mortar shop for a niche interest group, it's really important to appreciate this and show our support or their presence on our high streets will continue to dwindle. So in the spirit of supporting and celebrating our local yarn shops I am going to do a regular monthly feature on different shops, beginning close to home for me with Swansea, but gradually spreading the net out further.

So this month I'm going to introduce you to Swansea Bay Yarns which is tucked between the Brangwyn Hall and the Patti Pavillion on St Helen's Avenue.

The Shop front, which is a delight with regular changes of inspirational window displays, beckons the yarnoholic like a siren. Once inside you will not be disappointed as it is beautifully laid out with a relaxed vintage style, has a good selection of quality yarns, and you can be sure of a warm welcome from shop owner, Morgan. Swansea Bay Yarns is the Rowan stockist for Swansea, and also stocks other quality brands such as Bergere de France, Lang, Sublime, MillaMia, Adriafil, Erika Knight, and some lovely Manos amongst others.

Opened just last summer after a life-changing experience, Morgan took the brave decision to turn her life long passion into a business. Since opening her doors for the first time last June, Morgan has been beavering away to provide a hub for the local knitting community with the provision of a knitting group, classes, regular resident expert sessions for knit and crochet, as well as special in-store events such as the Rowan Yarn Taster I helped facilitate last month.

She is also active on twitter, and takes great pride in posting photos of the beautiful finished projects her customers bring into the shop to show her.

Morgan is already planning a new programme of events and classes for the rest of 2015 which will include, amongst other exciting events, an evening with Alison Crowther-Smith and myself for an exclusive pre-launch view of our collection for new book Elements at the end of September. So be sure to pop into the shop and follow her on facebook page for further updates.

Do you shop for yarn locally or online, or both? If you know of any great local yarn stores I'd love to hear about them for future features.

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