“You are just the kind of person that used to warm our cockles when I was in the business.”
So commented Ramana, on my recent Post: Playing with yarn.
It set me thinking about how ‘Craft’ shops have changed since I was a girl, over half a century ago.
When I started working in Dublin, back in the middle nineteen sixties. there was a small wool shop in Camden street. The name and the shop may have faded with the mists of time, but just thinking about it I am right back there, in the narrow passageways between the body high higgledy-piggledy stacks of yarn … fine baby yarn, double knit for winter jumpers and the true unwashed Aran wool with the oily smell. It was an amazing maze of inspiration and colour!
At times it was difficult to see the shop owner as he delved deep into a mountain of yarn to find the exact ball-band match for the one you had just given him. Sure enough he found it. Customers came, purchased and left. There was little space to stand let alone browse or have a conversation. Everyone was friendly but on a mission … to find an appropriate yarn for the next project or another skein to finish off the job in hand. It was possible to select the yarn you wanted, pay for one skein leave a small deposit on the remainder of the packet and collect and pay for it a week later. If you changed your mind, the unused yarn was returned to stock and all you lost was the deposit. Window display was not a priority back then, stacked packages of yarn with an occasional pattern propped against them was enough for this man. He customers were more interested in purchasing the yarn, than standing looking at the window.
Rowes of Earl Street was one of Dublin’s most famed haberdasheries, stocking a large selection of sewing supplies. Anything from essentials like needles thimbles and thread, to elastic, cord, piping, tape, braids or bias binding all sold by the yard. Buttons, buckles, zips, leather elbow patches, shoulder pads & shields, or frog fasteners they had them all. Net to trim hats and don’t forget the hatpins, we all wore hats for Sundays and special occasions!
Hickeys Fabrics on O’Connell Street, where we plundered the remnant bins for fabric to make skirts, tops, trousers or evening dresses fully lined for a couple of quid (£s). Dress dances were all the go back then, Guys in a tux and bow tie, was easy and we had a dress suit at home for the lads, but we ladies preferred to make a new dress for each event. I was very slim (skeleton skinny) back then so two yards of sngle width (30 inch wide) in a fancy remnant made a great cover for my bumpy bones! I still like to have a nostalgic visit to Hickeys when I am in Dublin.
In preparing this post, I discovered there seemed to be a connection between Rowes & Hickeys
Arnotts Department Store in Henry Street, Dublin, sold fabrics & haberdashery needs in the basement area, but now since the store has been updated and the three floors changed to five, the fabrics are gone and the craft work needs disappointing.
How I missed all of the above when I moved North to a small market town, almost thirty eight years ago. There was one shop that sold thread: Black, white or an ugly shade of red! That was it! I swapped all that wonderland for the stink of cow muck! Ah, but the other four letter word made up for my loss:- Love!
You can imagine my frustration until I found:
Craftwoman Fabrics, Carrickfergus. I was totally zapped by it and that feeling has never left me. Plenty of knowledgeable experienced and professional staff, never pushy but always interested and helpful. As somebody described it: “A sweet shop for designers and makers!” I totally agree. It was there I purchased the makings of Elly’s Prom outfit and later the fabrics for her wedding: bridal & bridesmaids.
If you want more details of the wedding outfit you can read about it here
Fiddlesticks Fabrics in Broughshane, I was introduced to last year. They regularly hold classes and workshops. I came home with a Toyboy after my first visit!
And the wool shops today are so much more social with beautifully displayed yarns, some finished items to give inspiration and a space to sit knitting and nattering awhile before washing it down with a cuppa and sweet treat!
Parlour Yarns In Carrickfergus, is now a favourite spot for a visit after my walk along the Promenade. I am hoping to visit on Tuesday morning and join in with the girls, this time I will bring along my multi yarn project!
New knitting project
Selections Wool Shop This little old style treasure is also in Carrickfergus, at, 33 North Street. I was looking for one skein of orange yarn to make a pumpkin before Halloween last year. Since it was for decoration and not clothing, I looked in one of our local budget shops. They had none but a very helpful young lad suggested I try Selections in Carrick. He gave me precise directions, telling me he often brought his granny there, she was always knitting. “I guarantee you will get the colour you want.” He said. I did and I have enough yarn left to make a few more!
Meet Peter Pumpkin
One of Ballyclare’s oldest buildings on the Main street. Lovingly restored, is now home to Brown’s Coffee Co with Hansel & Gretel’s Wool shop tucked away in the back section. It has a limited selection of specialist yarns but a varied collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks, even the double ended ones! They do hold classes at certain times of the year, and I hear the places fill up quickly. I have yet to purchase yarn there (still waiting for my stash to shrink.), but I did add to my collection of needles and regularly enjoy their coffee.
I did ask permission but it was busy and difficult to take photos without intruding on customers spaces.