UK Hand Knitting is a not-for-profit organisation that was originally founded more than 80 years ago in 1940, at another time of challenge to the country and shop owners.  There are six members who include: Groves (who supply yarns shops with all kinds of useful tools), James Brett, King Cole, Norland Burgess, Rico and Stylecraft.  Names you will be familiar with and whose yarns, needles, hooks and patterns will probably be in your project bag.

You may well have bumped into their Yarn Doctors and wonderful volunteers in the days when we could still go to craft shows. They can be found teaching as well as helping knitters and crocheters solve their crafty conundrums. Everything from casting on to turning a sock heel and even interpreting vintage patterns. UK Hand Knitting quite simply exists to promote knitting and crochet and, even more important, to support and promote independent bricks and mortar yarn shops.

When the first lock down was announced, the team at UK Hand Knitting swung into action, dissecting the government information, sharing links to useful sites and launching a huge advertising campaign that featured in Crochet Now and our sister magazine Knit Now, all to support yarn shops through the turmoil and letting you know they still had so much to offer.  “Yarn shops play a vital role in our communities and on the high street so helping them through the challenges of the last 12 months has been so important to us,” explains Michael Armstrong, Chairman of UK Hand Knitting. These shops have been amazing, bringing in so many new services to make sure we could still get what we need to keep calm and craft on.  From local delivery to phone orders, from click and collect to personal shopping over video link. Some set up websites, others entered the Facebook marketplace. Customer service is clearly at the heart of what they do.

As crafters we know the mental health benefits of knitting and crochet, especially in a pandemic, so UK Hand Knitting even petitioned government, politicians and influencers to ask for yarn shops to be designated as essential retail. Letters flew out to the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland in a bid to protect our gems of the High Street.

Now UK Hand Knitting is focussing its efforts on helping yarn shops as we emerge from the current crisis with a revamped website and map, making it even easier for you to locate your nearest shop and find out what services they can offer you. There is a really useful listing and map of UK shops on the website where you will also find helpful videos of various knitting techniques, a section on charity knitting and a list of knitting groups around the UK

So next time you want to buy yarn, why not put your local bricks and mortar shop at the top of your list and get in touch with them.  If you don’t have a local store, the UK Hand Knitting map will offer you a huge number of alternatives to choose from.

Thank you to all the wonderful UK yarn shops that have kept us going every step of the way.