We put Portadown, Co Armagh yarn shop Love Wool in the spotlight and hear from owner Valerie McCann.
Tell us a little bit about your shop?
Love Wool is a warm and inviting shop for all lovers of wool to indulge their passion. We opened in September 2016 and are based in Portadown, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. According to the British Knitting and Crochet awards we are the 2nd best yarn shop in Ireland – an award we recently won based on the votes of our wonderful customers!
What brands of yarn do you stock?
We have quite a diverse mix of brands and currently stock: Sirdar, Stylecraft, King Cole, Sublime and Hoooked. Plus, we are the only yarn shop in Northern Ireland to stock Scheepjes and Truly Hooked Yarns.
What are your top selling yarns?
Obviously, seasonality can have an affect on what yarn sells best at any given time and it goes without saying that at the minute King Cole Tinsel and green, white and red DK yarns are selling well for the festive season. In general our most popular yarns are: Sirdar Hayfield 400g Aran & Aran Tweed, Stylecraft Special DK and craft cotton, King Cole Drifter and Yummy, Sublime Baby Merino, Cashmere & Silk.
What’s your most popular pattern?
Sirdar Baby patterns are very popular (in particular those for Snuggly DK), Sweetie, Baby Blossom & Crofter. We also sell a lot of pattern books with Sublime and Aran Books being the most popular. There is also a growing demand for crochet patterns.
Do you have a knitting group in your shop?
We run social classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings 7-9pm and Beginner Crochet Classes on a Wednesday or Thursday. We are currently in the process of setting up a new range of workshops for 2018 including hand spinning, dyeing and various advanced knitting techniques. We are passionate about encouraging our knitting community to keep traditional skills alive whilst embracing all the wonderful new yarns available.
Who’s your typical customer?
We have a pretty broad customer base ranging from 15 to over 90 years of age. Within this the over 40s are probably our main demographic. Our customers are also predominately female, although we do have male knitters and crocheters and a lot of willing husbands who collect yarn for their wives. We have fantastic local support from the people of Portadown but we have also noticed that our customers travel from all over the island of Ireland to visit Love Wool, which really is amazing.
Do you get involved with any charity knitting projects?
We provide our customers with free patterns for initiatives such as ‘Octopus for a Premie,’ and ‘Twiddle Muffs’ for those who have Alzheimer’s. We also support charities by supplying yarn at discounted prices or donating smaller one-off batches of yarn. During conversations in the shop we encourage our customers to knit for good causes such as hats for premature babies and knitted knockers. We also try to promote the good that can be done with a ball of wool.
Do you stock any local designers, yarn producers or independent dyers?
I’m excited to say that we do. Just recently, we added the wonderfully vibrant range of Aran, DK and 4ply Truly Hooked hand dyed yarns to our collection. This includes our own custom dyed ‘love wool’ yarn, which Verity dyes exclusively for our shop. Verity operates from her home in Nottingham, England and is also an award winning author having written ‘The Sock Drawer’ and just recently ‘On The Hook’. We were keen to offer our customers the chance to work with unique, pure wool, hand dyed yarns but also very much wanted to support a smaller artisan independent dyer.
Do you stock any other products: fabric, craft essentials, home DIY?
Love Wool stocks a selection of KnitPro, Pony and Clover needles and hooks as well as buttons, bows, ribbons, thread, stuffing, toy eyes, knitting bags, polystyrene shapes and various haberdashery items. We also make up knit and crochet project bags, which are perfect for gifts and we also stock a range of knitting and crochet reference books. If we don’t have an item but can source it, then we will do our best to to meet a specific customer need.
Are you on social media?
We have a Facebook Page including our yarn bombing group and an Instagram page which is co-managed by my 15 year old son who is responsible for all the photography – or as he likes to say ‘yarnography’. All our social media handles are @lovewoolNI