Yarn Store of the Month continues visiting many of our favourite yarn stores across the world with the beautiful Northern Yarn in Lancaster. We spoke to Kate Makin and discussed the inspiration behind the business, as well as the future of knitting in the UK.
What was the inspiration to opening Northern Yarn?
I launched Northern Yarn three years ago in 2016; our local yarn shop had closed and I felt it was a hole that needed filling, it’s so important being able to feel and see wool. I had recently relocated back to the North West from London and I wanted my business to reflect the way I felt about where I now lived – green and beautiful – and covered with sheep! I wanted to connect to the land and learn more about those who looked after it and the animals that grazed on it. I wanted to knit with wool from sheep I could see from my window!
How popular is knitting/crochet in the UK?
There are so many stitchers in the UK and around the world. Knitting and crochet have always been there but I think life is so much busier now that people really appreciate the relaxed pace of knitting & crochet. It slows you down, makes you focus and takes you away from the chaos.
Since opening, how far has the business developed?
I started small, I wanted to test the waters to see how popular locally sourced, British wool was in my area – so I bought a gazebo and literally took a small selection of wool to the market, twice a week for 18 months, putting all the profits back into the business and expanding my range. I had my own line produced from local flocks – following the whole process. My background was working with homeless people living in temporary accommodation so I am very new to business and that has taken some getting used to. I then went on to share a small shop for just over a year and recently moved to my own premises – I’m thrilled!
What is the secret to your success?
I love coming to work. I mean the work doesn’t stop, I’m always doing various things in the evenings too but it doesn’t feel like work. I love the people I’ve met, the things I have learned and am still learning, and how my life has changed. I believe in what I sell and I think that comes through.
How has HiyaHiya helped your business to flourish?
I love Hiya Hiya – the brand was recommended to me and it fits in well with Northern Yarn. The products are of a high quality – no snagging on the needles and the accessories are useful and cute – a winning combo! With low minimum orders I could build my stock up slowly without breaking the bank. My customers love the brand too and I have no complaints!
What do you love most about your line of work?
Everything. Of course the knitting and crochet but I love being inspired by my customers who come in and show me what they’ve made. Also the people I meet who look after the sheep or make the yarn or soap, organising woolly events – every day I learn something new and that is what keeps my work exciting.
What trends do you see happening in the craft industry in the future?
Spinning and weaving – I now want to try both of these.
What are your plans for Northern Yarn in the future?
I have so many plans! I have more breed specific wool in the pipeline and at various mills, I want to host more events in the shop and around town – I’d love to have my own sheep! All the things.