The yarn community is full of many small vendors who are particularly vulnerable to the current situation. You might think that this would lead to a cut-throat approach to marketing; they are, after all, in competition for spending dollars in a time of great economic uncertainty. What I have seen is very different, with a number of incredibly supportive and cooperative ventures that have sprung up among small vendors and producers, whose goal is not just to survive in this chaos, but to help the entire community weather the storm. By helping the community, they help each other.
You may be aware of any number of examples of this community spirit, but I am going to point out one that has captured my attention. iknit7 is a cooperative venture among seven small independent yarn shops in the UK and Ireland – A Yarn Story, Emily Foulds, Ginger Twist Studio, Knit with Attitude, This is Knit, Tribe Yarns, and Wild and Woolly. They say: “We know that the best way to survive and thrive in the face of crazy unprecedented odds is to work together. When all of the madness kicked off and we were confronting circumstances beyond our wildest worst-case scenarios we banded together for support, ideas and way forward.” They have organised an event – Virtual Yarn Extravaganza – from the 25th -30th of May, with discounts, prizes, gifts, and a chance to virtually experience these small shops, meet their owners, and discover what makes them unique.
It is this last point which really struck me – each of these shops has a personality and the collaboration so far seems to be a celebration of the unique character of each shop, presented with such good cheer and honest enthusiasm, its left me very impressed. I especially loved their video – iknit7 Who We Are – Pass the Mic, in which they each told why they loved another’s shop.
I already know four of these shops, although only one in person. Anna, of Wild and Wooly in Hackney, London, fielded multiple phone calls and emails and was a fantastic sounding board when she helped me to pick out the yarns for Leah’s Snow Flower. I bought the yarn for this sweater from Knit with Attititude, who were especially helpful when I had to totally re-envision the project and introduce a second colour of yarn. I heard Carmen, from A Yarn Story, speak at a yarn festival, and then admired her beautiful stand and bought a range of haberdashery from her. (I am also signed up to attend a knitting retreat with her in October!) Doug and I have visited Tribe Yarns in Richmond, London, both in their old digs and their brand new digs. The owner, Milli, convinced me to buy the gorgeous yarn I used in my Cool Boots shawl (the neutral version). She also gave us great advice on where to eat and shop and wander locally. The other three shops look very cool. I will seek them out when travelling is allowed again, and until then, I plan to enjoy this event. (And likely buy some yarn.)
When the world gets crazy, its nice to see the yarn community getting together, supporting each other, and being creative. I know there is a lot of virtual knitting goodness going on world-wide; I hope that you have had a chance to participate in some. Keep knitting and stay safe.