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Ja, Wol Blog

Last of the Moh(a)i(r)cans... januari 25, 2017 17:29

In a couple of months the city of Rotterdam, with 629.606 inhabitants, will have only a few yarn shops left. In the last year, two shops, that I know of, have closed their doors. And a third luckily found someone to take over the shop. It was close to closing after being in business for over 125 years!! 

At this point I can count only 3 yarn shops in Rotterdam that will fit my definition (more on that later) and I've heard that a city like Berlin has more than 20 yarn shops.... shocking isn't it?!

it's emotional...

 

You might think that I would be happy about this, more customers for me, YAY! But no... first off all I know how I would feel if I had to close the doors to my home-away-from-home, but even if it was a decision that was made for more positive reasons, even then I'm not chuffed about the idea of being a wool island in a sea of acrylics. This is not a post on the merits of wool and natural fibres, but I'm talking about Yarn shops here, not the HEMA, Zeeman, Wibra or other department stores where you can load a ball of yarn into your basket, have no idea what to do with it but will figure it out for the cost of a euro. Again, this is exaggerated I know there's great acrylic out there or sublime mixes. But still. You know...

it's economical...

 

I am talking about shops that have your back. Shops where experts will help you pick your yarn and help you find that matching pattern. Shops that host Knit Nights, Stitch 'n Bitch gatherings and are a warm community where you meet like minded fluff nerds to whom you can express yourself in a language that will make muggles dazzle. Shops that provide you with workshops and lessons to teach you skills in the most fun and efficient way, using a learning curve to get you to advanced status swiftly, guiding you and comforting you like no you tube film could ever. Shops where you can talk about your sick dog, your new boyfriend, your move, your divorce, your views on the social economic behaviour of peers and, let's be honest... men. And all this while serving hot tea, coffee and biscuits.

I have a couple of sentiments when it comes to these closing doors and I've been pondering on this blogpost for months now. It's so hard to find the right tone, we're talking sensitive issues here, you know how it is... It was easy to have an opinion as a blog writer but since I own a shop I have customers and I've become a little less outspoken. Still I decided to give it a go. 

Why it hurts when yarn shops close their doors:

1. It's bad for business! 

Yes, it is! Bad for MY business. Imagine if you've always bought your dark brown sock yarn at your favorite LYS and now you'll have to buy hand dyed blue faced leicester. I know some of you (including me) believe that's a step up, but who are we to judge? What if you really want brown simple sock yarn? Or what if you simply don't have the budget for fancyschmancy yarns? [added: while typing this story someone called me with literally this issue and quote-unquote stated; 'No way! My husband isn't worth that kind of money!'.] And what if you are crafty but not all that creative (and there's no judgement there). What if you need a pattern magazine with matching yarns in a colour that matches the picture in the magazine? 

it's logical...

 

These are just two, but very realistic, problems that knitters from other shops might have to overcome if they come to mine. I am working on finding ways to find overlap with my personal beliefs and philosophies to facilitate the community and, let's be fair, get some of the business my way. But until that day I'll have to disappoint some people and that can't be good for business... We need all the shops that facilitate all the different types of crafters! One shop can't be all things to all people. And more so I don't want to run a shop like that. I have ideas, I have... well... a vision, don't laugh... I do! 

2. Most shops close because they just don't make it.

We can argue that there are a number of reasons why a shop isn't able to keep their doors open, but let's just go with the obvious one; they haven't been able to sell enough yarn. Was the yarn too expensive? Was the personnel not nice enough? Was the location ineffective? Was the choice limited? I want to say something about the later. Choice of yarns is extremely grand these days. And so are the ways to get it. Your local yarn store, yarn shops you encounter by accident (...) while traveling, festivals, fairs and web shops and all of them in vast numbers. We are bombarded by brands, designers, patterns and ideas inspired to the point it won't fit in our heads. There is Ravelry, Pinterest, Instagram. We have friends all over the world in our Ravelry friends group. And all these choices are very accessible. 

even the big guys think so...

 

We live in a made-to-measure world and when we handcraft items we expect to be able to make it exactly how we'd like it. We browse around Zalando and bol.com until we find the perfect pair of boots for the lowest possible price. So why would we buy yarn any other way? So we can find that tomato red alpaca/merino blend in woolen spun dk because we know how to find it. We google and we conquer! But when it turns out that the yarn is more brick red than tomato red, that the alpaca/merino sheep was probably sick or elderly by the touch of the yarn, when it turns out we should have picked another type of ply for the intended project because the sweater has draped lovely... to our ankles... then I would like to make a case for your LYS.

And this is where it becomes prickly (pun intended). I own a LYS. Of course I would make a case for you to buy your yarn here. Yes, it's that simple and, no, it isn't. 

it's truth...

 

In all honesty I'll give you a view in my stash... I buy yarn e-ve-ry-where. Literally. London. Shetland. Sweden. Denmark. At festivals and fairs. I'm not even 100% loyal to my own shop. I buy yarns to test if I want to sell them in my shop, I buy yarns as a souvenir, I mostly buy yarns to support the shops that I visit and I've bought yarn from a shop that was going through a difficult time. I call yarns that aren't from my shop 'bastard yarns' so I do have some self-knowledge and I'm not telling you to buy all your yarn from your LYS (or me) I know that's not fair. I really, passionately and wholeheartedly want to let you in on the fact that is is not only nice but critical to support your LYS in the ways that are suitable for you. I know that a lot of people just don't think about the fact that running a wool shop is hard work and costs a lot. (It's also the best job in the world!) and so because they don't know they don't understand why support is so important. It is. It really is. Us woolly shops need you to exist is really that simple. 

I am just gently nudging you to give it an extra second of though next time you buy yarn, or book a workshop. If your LYS sells it, go local! If you want to shop local in the future, you'll have to keep it there.

And again... I'm not telling you what to do, just informing you. Buy that souvenir yarn. Get that one-of-a-kind indie dyer treasure at the festival. Love and enjoy yarn and crafting! I'm talking about ALL the local yarn shops, not just mine.  And to make this point, I've made a list....

So here's yarny Rotterdam. I didn't include the hobby shops where you can find a couple of balls of cotton and I didn't include the aforementioned acrylic shops. These are shops that give you some choice. Some give you expert advice, others will show you were to find the yarn in the shop and let you get to it. Some will offer amazing workshops, others will help you out if you have a simple question. Some will offer you a place to hang out, others will just help you pic what you need. But they are local and if not many, I think everyone can find what they need. 

City Center

Schröder 

Westblaak 61

Rotterdam

Het Garenrijk (vanaf februari 2017)

Jonker Fransstraat 101a

Rotterdam

 

Oude Noorden

Ja, Wol

Zwaanshals 283 a

Rotterdam

 

Rotterdam Zuid

Wolgeluk

Groene Zoom 281b

Textielfabrique

Gouwstraat 56c Rotterdam

Wolle Petra 

Eversdijckstraat 34a Rotterdam

 

If you know of a shop that's not mentioned here and fits my idea of an LYS (described in the text) please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

 And finally:
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- To get to a local retailer...
diclaimer: The pictures are from Pinterest. I've made them linkable if I was able to find the matching sites. If you see your image and don't want it here, let me know and I'll delete it from the page. I can also add a link if you'd like

Big, Bigger, Huge! november 17, 2015 12:02 2 Opmerkingen

Lately there has been a Large (pun intended) demand on super bulky yarn. Customers fall in love with the chunky knits they see on Pinterest and Instagram. Blankets that make you feel like you are tiny, knit with needles that are no less than the size of a small tree. A quick fix with almost no effort and maximum (another intended pun...) effect, who wouldn't want that?

Read this article.

The love of chunky knits has been a few years old, but every fall/winter season it gets another peak in interest and I have to let down customer after customer who come in search of these rope like yarns.

This Maxi knitting is knitting in the absolute sence of the word, but for 'a Knitter' with a capital 'K', it hardly is. The customer looking for this yarn is not looking for the experience, but for the effect. As an effect the bulkiest yarn in my shop is knit with needle size 15 (mm) and is like teeth floss compared to these chunky knits we post on our Pinterest boards. 

It is there, the yarn, isn't it? Other people can get their hands on it, so why not we? I hear you think and... I hear you. Are you sitting down? I need to tell you something. Ok, breathe in... 

A blanket will need about 5 kg's of super bulky yarn. And you probably don't want your blanket do scrub your skin, you'll knit a loofa for that, right? So you need 5 kg's of soft wool. We don't want plastic for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it's not so pretty. (this in my humble opinion at least). So that leaves us with 5 kg's of soft, natural yarn. So here it is...1 kg of this stuff will cost you about €100,- There. Now breathe out. 

If you want it, you can get it here and here.

A €500,- blanket. Sure if you can afford it, I am very happy for you, go for it, by all means. But... Imagine these blankets in your house, in use. You might have children, you might have pets... These lovely pictures are like the pictures in hairdressers magazine; they are taken in a nanosecond, all the hairs in place, no wind, perfect make-up, and a stylist by your side. Same goes for those blankets. The've just gotten off the needles, they are draped inch by inch, perfect lighting in a rub and tear free atmosphere. 

So why all this negative discouragement? Well... I aim to educate, that's what I do, it's who I am. Furthermore I'm from Rotterdam, we like to tell it like it is. But I have a positive twist to this story....

If you want maximum effects and minimum effort. How about these:

Wolkelder Wolkjeswol (follow link to webshop to see all skeins)

or these...

Akaratos  (follow link to webshop to see all skeins)

These yarns are handspun by local artisans in small batches so usually not enough to knit you a whole blanket, but you only need a small amount to make a 'drop-dead-designer-look' pillow cover or a warm and show stopping shawl, cowl or capelet. These items will last longer and transform the look of your couch, bed or body with the same WOW!

Also... Istex Bulky Lopi. Great yarn, very warm, very affordable. Just use 3 or 4 threads at the same time for the mega chunky effect. It works!

My point; think smaller amounts and think bigger effects. These kinds of yarns are not in our shop's budget line, but compared to the chunky blanket everybody wants, these are one of a kind and much more affordable. 

Big Wooly Hugs,

Saskia

picture of chunky knits: thisiscolossal.com 

Ja, Wol webshop! december 28, 2014 20:36 1 Opmerking

2015... een nieuw jaar. En hoewel ik niet echt aan goede voornemens doe, kreeg ik van Puk aan het eind van 2014 een 'fortune cookie' met de tekst: 'You will make changes for the better'. Dus tja...

Er is altijd veel werk bij Ja, Wol en ik heb niet vaak tijd over. Maar ja... als ik me iets in mijn hoofd haal... Het begin van het jaar betekent 'balansen'; het tellen van alle producten in de winkel. En als je dan alles op een rijtje gaat zetten, dan kun je net zo goed die extra stap zetten. Het zal stapje voor stapje gaan, dus verwacht niet meteen alle wolletjes in de webshop. We beginnen met de lessen, maar langzaam maar zeker zal de shop zich vullen met onze garens en kunnen ook mensen van buiten het Rotterdamse bij ons terecht. 

2016... online breicursussen? Wie weet...