Februarys Yarn Store of the Month is Blue Fern Yarns of Norwich, UK. Blue Fern Yarns has been a retailer of HiyaHiya Europe for the last year and her business has gone from strength to strength. We sat down and had a chat with Shannon Long.
What was the inspiration for opening Blue Fern Yarns?
Blue Fern Yarns was not planned, not to begin with anyway. I went to my first yarn show, Fibre East, and was amazed at the colours and the texture of the different fibres. All I could think was that I wanted to have a go, my mum mentioned she had a dye at-home kit and we could have a go together. After a bit of pestering, she came over, we had a weekend dying the three skeins provided in the kit. Watching the colour absorb into the yarn and seeing how it looked when it was dry was so much fun that I just knew I had to have another go. The next thing I knew I had bought my first five kilos of yarn and had created some lovely colours. I had so much yarn I didn’t know what to do with it, a few friends suggested I sell it. So, I set up an Etsy shop and Blue Fern Yarns was created.
How popular is knitting/ crochet in the Norwich area?
I think before lockdown there were knitting groups around Norwich but they were set up in the middle of the working day and were often aimed at those who had retired. Since the 2020 lockdown, I believe a lot of people turned to craft as a way to keep themselves busy during a difficult time. It is when I learnt to knit too, but I had crocheted since 2015. I believe there is more of the younger generation knitting and crocheting now, especially seeing some famous people turning to knitting and crochet too. It’s also quite fashionable at the moment too. I set up my own evening group twice a month on a Wednesday evening as I couldn’t find any groups available for me to attend. It’s called Needles and Hooks Norwich (Group on Facebook) and has proven to be quite successful.
Since opening, how far has the business developed?
Blue Fern yarns has developed beyond my imagination, honestly, I just wanted to sell the extra yarn to be able to buy more and play with lots of different colour combinations. I still work four days a week within Commercial Property Management and run Blue Fern Yarns around that. It is difficult as I would love to be able to dye yarn all day every day but I still have bills to pay.
What is the secret to your success?
This is difficult as there are lots of different things that have helped me. The first thing I think of is Tom, my partner. He is constantly helping me; taking orders to the post office, helping out at yarn shows, coming up with colourway names and reminding me not to give up. Even though he has no interest in crocheting, knitting or yarn he still manages to listen to whatever I have to say about it all and even shows an interest, maybe he is just good at faking it. If he were not here, I think I would have closed Blue Fern Yarns a few times, especially within the first year as Blue Fern Yarns started in October 2019 and then lockdown hit.
How has HiyaHiya helped your business to flourish?
When I learnt to knit I started out on a pair of Hiya Hiya needles, I couldn’t believe how light they were and when I became hooked on knitting I had to get myself a set. I tried a few different needles since then and didn’t enjoy using them. A few people often ask me which needles I use and I always recommend Hiya Hiya, they are lightweight, strong and sturdy and I have never had any issues with them, unlike some other brands I have tried. When I was looking at stocking different things on my website I wanted needles and knew it had to be Hiya Hiya, so I sought them out. Their staff are fab and all my orders are ready very quickly, it also helps that my business is based in Norwich as they also have a warehouse in Norwich.
What do you love most about your line of work?
Blue Fern Yarns is very therapeutic and rewarding to me. As I mentioned, I work for a Commercial Property Management company four days a week which can be very stressful. When dying yarn there is a process you need to follow, yes there are different techniques, but the process to dye yarn really makes me relax. I follow the process and at the end of it all, I have created a beautiful yarn which can then be turned into something else more beautiful by knitting, crocheting or any other yarn craft. I also love speaking with my customers, hearing their views on my yarns, helping them decide on colours for their project or generally catching up with them about day to day life.
What trends do you see happening in the craft industry in the future?
I believe that knitting is becoming more popular and since lockdown, I have seen that there is definitely a younger generation picking up yarn crafts. It is also becoming quite fashionable to wear knitted or crocheted items, you can see it on catwalks, on famous people and some sports people are knitting whilst waiting for their turn. Remember Tom Daly last year?? I also see a lot of new pattern designers are doing an amazing job making their patterns more accessible, size-inclusive and easy to follow.
What are your plans for Blue Fern Yarns in the future?
For 2022 there are already so many plans made. Collaborations with some amazingly talented people, yarn shows which I will have stalls at, and new collections I plan to release throughout the year too. I’m also really looking forward to releasing my yarn advent for 2022 as I have already planned most of it. Watch out for the pre-order listing in Mid-March.