On Saturday, I drove to Yarnbirds in Whaley Bridge, which is not far from Buxton in the Peak District, for a sock clinic and book signing. It's in the opposite direction to the way I drive up to Skipton - down the M6 rather than up, but the landscape looked familiar as I drove out of Stockport and into the small Peak District towns. I love these rolling hills and stone walls, and despite the rather ominous-looking clouds, it was a warm and sunny day. Just right for yarn shop visiting!
I've never been to Whaley Bridge before, although we've passed the turn-off many times when we've driven over to Buxton. It's always good to find a new place to explore! Just as you get over the bridge into the town is the canal basin (again, I was reminded of Skipton!) and just a bit further on from there is Canal Street where Yarnbirds is situated.
Although Yarnbirds faces the main road, you have to turn off onto a side road at which point the maps function on my phone helpfully went into meltdown - "turn left!", "turn right!", "make a U-turn!", "head north on the A1!" - but luckily I had spotted the large yellow building which Yarnbirds shares with the Pear Tree Cafe and was able to ignore the sat nav, even when it triumphantly announced, "You have reached your destination!". "No thanks to you," I told it, and parked the car.
It felt a bit like going into a secret garden, pushing open the gate and crunching across the gravel drive. Once inside the door, you are confronted with delicious smells from the cafe upstairs and displays of yarn and knitted samples ... it's like following the yellow brick road to the shop which is in a bright room to one side.
If you do visit, the Pear Tree Cafe is also well worth a visit - I can recommend the "all day brunch" of avocado, poached eggs, rocket and halloumi on toast. Yarn shops and cafes do go together very well, I think!
This is Claire, who owns Yarnbirds. She's a lovely, jolly, friendly person and has a warm welcome for everyone who comes into the shop (and on this particular Saturday, there were a lot of them which was great to see!). She really knows her stuff with her yarns and has a really good selection of them, from the inexpensive Drops sock yarns to beautiful hand-dyed silk and yak mixes and pretty much everything in between.
The shop isn't huge but is crammed with yarns. Juniper Moon Farm, Eden Cottage Yarns, Stylecraft, Rico - there's a yarn for every project and to suit every budget. I went to talk to people about socks but found myself discussing school projects, university knitting, clothes for grandchildren - it's wonderful to know that knitting is spanning every age group in this little corner of the world!
In this photo, this central unit has been taken over by socks, but twice a week it transforms into a craft table for the hugely popular knit n natter groups. I've written before about how important it is to have somewhere that you can go and be with like-minded people. It doesn't matter whether you actually do any knitting (I tend to spend more time chatting and then unpicking what I've done wrong because I was too busy chatting to get much knitting done at knit n natters!) or whether you just sit there in the company of kindred spirits with your cup of tea - what's important is being part of the group and it's always a huge boost to your wellbeing.
More hand-dyed yarns. These are Peak District Yarns dyed by Carrie who came to the shop to say hello. Her yarns are beautiful and yes, some of it did come home with me! I love that Claire has local yarns in her shop - after all, you buy food locally to reduce "food miles" so why not buy yarn locally too? (Would that be reducing "yarn miles"? Or "sheep miles"? J)
This is my skein. It's called "Sorbet" and although it hasn't quite chosen what it wants to be yet, I'm sure it won't be long before it does.
It was lovely to be able to talk socks and admire socks with the people who came to the shop. I do love to meet people and see what they've created! The chairs were full, there was lots of happy conversation and there was even an impromptu Kitchener stitch workshop going on at one point!
Yarnbirds has only been open for two years but is going from strength to strength. Claire has a good vision of what she wants from her shop and her focus on well-being and the knit n natter groups are an integral part of this vision. I'm very glad. It's important that we have the opportunity to take part in these groups and with yarn shops closing down every week, it's wonderful to see one that's doing so well and is such an important part of the community.
If you're in the Peak District area, it's definitely worth taking a detour off the A6 to visit Whaley Bridge and the Yarnbirds shop (and the Pear Tree Cafe!) - you'll be glad you did!
Yarnbirds, Pear Tree Cottage, 10 Canal Street, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23 7LS