As I think I’ve mentioned before, the only thing I love more than getting post is going shopping, and since I started crocheting, yarn shopping has become a terribly addictive hobby. While I love online yarn, because there’s just so much of it, there’s really no substitute for going along and touching the things you’re going to work with. Mostly, if I’m ordering online, I buy things I already know about, rather than trying new yarn that way.
Also, as we all know, crafting is not a cheap hobby. I’m therefore pretty lucky that there’s a supplier of decent, cheap yarns right in the middle of Oxford where I’ve become a regular customer.
[apologies for blurring in photos. I hadn’t had lunch and my hands were shaking a bit]
This is one of Helen and Douglas House‘s shops, right in the centre of Oxford, in the Covered market. They’re a charity based in Oxford, in their own words “providing respite and end of life care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions, as well as support and friendship for the whole family.” There are other shops all over Oxfordshire, and all of them are nicely done. Like Oxfam, the stock is definitely of good quality, and while not as cheap as other charity shops, they’re still extremely reasonable. The other shops sell mostly donated clothes, while this one is teeny tiny and concentrates on books and gifts. Spotting the gap in the market, they started buying in Cygnet yarns a while back, and it’s been awesome to watch their range expand.
There’s 4ply, DK, aran and chunky yarns here, in both wool and acrylic. The blanket I posted about a few days ago was made of the pure merino DK, while I have a lovely soft hat made from some purple acrylic. I know a lot of stitchers won’t touch acrylic with a barge-pole, but if it’s for something hard-wearing like a hat or scarf, that I know I’m going to drop, catch on things and possibly run over with my bike, acrylic is a great solution.
The shop also has a sewing station, some fabulous sewing patterns (1960s dresses! 20p!), fabric remnants and other notions. Recently, they’ve also branched out into sock yarns, which are a little more expensive but probably worth it.
I’ve had some fabulous pieces out of the fabric remnants basket, and I love that they also sell ends of balls of yarn, sorted into little bags by colour. They’re going to be perfect for experimenting with, so that I can try out new patterns and learn new things without having to keep frogging my nice yarn. And I have to say that the DK merino is just a joy to work with. The colours are bright and it’s stretchy and soft and makes a beautifully draping fabric.
Oxford is gradually building up a good stock of craft shops (more soon!), and one lovely thing I’ve noticed is that people are donating really good quality work to Helen and Douglas House for them to sell. There are some incredible large quilts, book bags and knitted baby jackets. My favourites are the granny square blankets, although I’ll admit to some bias there – I donated one made of yarn that I couldn’t think what else to do with, and when I went back to take these pictures, they’d sold it! Woo hoo! My second favourites last time I went in were the lap quilts, which were made by someone truly expert and selling for just £6 each. Bargain!
The yarns might not be expensive, but it’s a lovely little place to shop in. The staff are friendly, and you know you’re supporting a really good local cause. I definitely recommend it if you’re taking a trip to Oxford.