Edited: June 1st 2007
Due to recent discoveries, about the bountiful nature of the factory, the acquisition of a wool winder and the glorious possibilities of Etsy, this list needs a little rearranging. The factory most definitely ranks above charity shops and abakhan's, and possibly even, for me personally, hobby craft. Though I realise in public terms the factory doesn't even count as a source and is only a personal indulgence of mine.
This post is long overdue I know- and it doesn't even touch on my holiday knitting tales- which include waiting for my chance to shear the fleece from a poor lamb that had just been slaughtered.. I didn't see the point in wasting the stuff- wool is pricey! I drew the line at scavenging leather though..
Ok i'll make a list of the places i know and say what I think of them- I'm totally biased and can't help plugging my lovely local wool shop http://www.knitwool.co.uk/
home.asp for being both the loveliest and friendliest yarn shop I know.
I'll do it from worst to best and then those I can't judge.
10: Longsight Market wool.
This should maybe go into the 'i can't judge' category cause i went there before i had much idea of wool except what i'd scrounged from charity shops and atia. But what i recall is a few bales of acrylic, overpriced plastic needles and dusty buttons, situated in a stall next to the fish. There were interesting garlands of ribbony stuffs festooned around and probably a few oddities but overall it couldn't really provide staples let alone be a yarn haven.
9: Charity shops and boot fair.
Check out your local Children's Society (my personal jackpot) or Oxfam, which has the goods though they are undergoing rapid inflation. Actually Didsbury's 100% oxfam got cleared out in a week and the needles hiked up from 30p each to 99p. The point is you never know- ask them what they have in the backroom and often they'll practically give the stuff away, especially at boot fairs. They are the real goldmine for equipment. I don't mean to digress but I saw these mean-spirited ebayers on Wife Swap not long ago and they dredged up a treasury of knitting goods for a couple of quid and flogged those nice wooden needles two pound apiece.. That made me mad as fire- those horrid greedy people.
(1/6/07 last time I went to Oxfam the needles had inflated to 2 pounds a pair. There's almost no point anymore- at least bargain wise. It's still charity and recycling of course)
8. Abakhan's in the Northern Quarter:
I know many of you go for this place cause it's in town and sells lots of cheap stuff- ie 500g of acrylic for £5 or smt like that- but I'm kind of a yarn snob I suppose and feel This Is Not The Way. Knitting is about so much about making a scarf cheaper than you could buy- Primark can supply better than Abakhan's.. It's about your handiwork being your pride and joy- and for me i like to find joy in yarn first. Any way it has some Sirdar as well i think and if you're a beginner or not specifically searching for Noro or Alpaca Silk you'll find an adequate selection.
7. Pop's factory.
This doesn't count as a public supply source but I was at first hopeful that my dad's little jumper factory could supply me with a endless yards of yarn in all the colours I could hope for. Well I was right and wrong- there was plenty of stuff but machine wool just wasn't the stuff after all and though my pa talks of merino wool at £5 a kilo I don't know if it would work out.
6. Hobbycraft, Stockport:
It's a supermarket of craft supplies so it will most likely fulfill your needs- but you won't get that feeling of coming home that a place that's owned by knitters and lined with shimmering yarns will give you. This place is functional- the Stockport branch is big and has about half a floor dedicated to knitting supplies. I go into it often and the prices are normal, it has quite a bit of Rowan and their pattern books, and I don't remember exactly what else they have but you can definitely get kitted out fine. Oh and it's next to Borders which has lots of pattern books and a knitting club on Thursday evenings. Singer and my lovely Wool shop are also just round the back of it.
5. Sew-In of Didsbury
I'm not sure where to place this.. I know this is just my prejudice because they weren't very welcoming when I went to their Wednesday evening club. As far as wool supplies go they are the second best in town as far as I know (my textiles student aunt tells me fantastic tales of shops that only ppl in the know like her have an entry into, where ppl buy dazzling silk wools by the kilo and i hope to be initiated in that world soon but until then this is all i can tell you..) And not all of the Sew-In folk are cold- one guy was affably telling my sis all kinds of thing i didn't understand about Noro and the Japanese v. Chinese dyeing process..
4. John Lewis, Cheadle
I went to the post-Christmas yarn sale and I tell you it was a treat. Bales of Rowan Ribbon twist, RYC Soft Lux, Rowan Spray, Jaeger Extra fine Merino and Natural fleece all going at half price.. First day I went after i whined my mother into stopping there half an hour on the way home. Next day a troupe of us went, and today we went again- though it'd been sucked of the good stuff by then. But it has a nice selection- and I expect the Trafford Centre John Lewis does too. They do workshops too apparently though I saw no place to sit ad knit at leisure.
3. Ebay and the cyber knitting world:
Cause nowhere is more local than your front doorstep. Explore as far as you like- Atia can testify to the promptness (and prettiness) of the stuff she had posted to her from Uruguay. I just bought my first ball from Ebay today- but only cause i knew exactly what it was and couldn't find it anywhere. Internet makes me over-cautious and indecisive- I needed this summer tweed for months to finish some ballet slippers and only just about screwed up the nerve to Commit to Buy. But i never find real-life yarn sprees a problem. For ethical yarns check out Peace Fleece www.peacefleece.com - it's got an amazing story and I just ordered some so I can give a report on it soon. We MuJews are going to knit each other Peace Fleece presents..
Etsy is in another league of online yarn shopping. I judge from Knitmedic's stock of lustrous handpainted yarns made by talented folk at etsy. If you desperately need something specific and impossible to find you can always find some spinning dyeing fibre artist round there to do it for you at an entirely reasonable price. Also once you get good enough and are inclined to sell your wares that is the place to go. The buyers appreciate handcrafted stuff- that's why they're there.
1. Wool, 6 Market Place (Behind/ next to stockport market)Stockport, SK1 1EW Tel: 0161 480 3062
I've talked for too long and I don't want to hype up my favourite place- but it's worth hunting out and is so the ultimate haven. Any or everyday can be your knitting club- there a big table where anyone can come and knit all day- and Aileen made us pots of tea and coffee not once but twice last time I went. It's all neighbourly and cosy and pretty, and just how it ought to be- if I wanted to know what a nice pattern would be for my wool or need help I'd probably go there. You can get a student discount too- and they have nice Debbie Bliss Merino and Cotton DK in bargain baskets. Oh and Aileen does ebay auctions so you can save on p&p and pick stuff up at the shop.