Monday, 12 August 2013

Oxford yarn stores

Oxford lost its long term yarn store, Portmeadow Design, almost a year ago. I was sad to see it go, and not just because I worked there part time and got a 20% discount. I stocked up before they closed because I didn't know when I would find a replacement for my steady supply of yarn. But it turned out I needn't have worried. Two new shops opened in the past six months, bringing our yarn store total to three, so we are now very well supplied with yarn in Oxford.

Oxford Yarn Store

The first of the new shops to open was the Oxford Yarn Store on North Parade. I was especially excited to see this store open in the location of one of my previous favourite shops - which had carried jewelry and design items - because I had decided that was exactly where I would open MY yarn shop (if I had been a position to do so). I would have called my yarn shop Yarn Parade, but other than that I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Oxford Yarn Store, with brand new produce store opening next door -
North Parade just gets better and better

Besides being conveniently located in North Oxford (a ten minute walk from the St Giles intersection), the Oxford Yarn Store is a really friendly place to meet other knitters - they have knitting groups that meet on Wednesday morning and Thursday evening, and a regular offering of classes. But the really extraordinary thing about the shop is the wide selection of yarn. It seems like every week they stock a new variety.

Stuffed to the rafters with lovely yarn

Highlights: It is hard to pick just one yarn, because there really are so many wonderful, unusual choices, but a new stock I'm most excited about is the Isegar yarns from Denmark. They are Isegar's only UK stockists apart from Loop London, so now I have even less need to trek all the way to London for yarn.

The Fibre Works

The Fibre Works opened on Cowley road a few months ago. This yarn shop is a branch of a store in Chipping Norton, which I had always planned to visit, but now that seems less necessary. The shop is smaller than the Oxford Yarn Store so has a smaller collection of yarn, but they seem to carry a good selection of basics, and also have some lovely haberdashery and kits. They host a knitting group in the shop on Tuesdays and also offer a wide range of classes. It is nice to see the south side of Oxford is not left out of the yarn profusion.

Bright and cheery yarn store

Highlights: a basket of Warm Pixie Scottish luxury lambswool in a delightful range of colours. They also have a great selection of Jamieson & Smith Shetland in jumper weight (4ply).

Darn it and Stitch

Darn it and Stitch has been around for a couple of years now. This quaint little shop in the centre of town, just around the corner from St Aldates, is primarily a haberdashery and fabric shop. They offer a very wide range of craft classes, including sewing. But they have been gradually expanding their yarn selection, so they certainly deserve to be included in the yarn store count. They have a knitting club that meets in a nearby pub on Mondays.

The original pocket shop

Highlights: Excelana yarn in a range of vintage inspired colours, developed by the designer Susan Crawford for use in her vintage patterns. Also some of the luscious hand dyed Fyberspates line.

In keeping with the vintage effect, they have a display of old haberdashery supplies in the counter window. The other day I spied a contribution from one of their customers - an amazing example of miniature knitting.

Tiny christening gown ensemble

And if you are interested in taking up this extreme version of knitting, the Oxford Yarn Store carries tiny HiyaHiya needles for fine lace and miniature knitting.