New crafting event coming to East Anglia this summer

Stuart Race, owner of The Woolpatch in Long Melford and one of the organisers of the East Anglian Yarn Crawl

Stuart Race, owner of The Woolpatch in Long Melford and one of the organisers of the East Anglian Yarn Crawl - Credit: Contributed

Thanks to the likes of Tom Daley and Harry Styles, knitting and crochet have never been cooler. 

During the Tokyo Olympics, champion diver Tom, who had taken up the mindful crafts to help him to switch off and relax during the pandemic, was spotted knitting on the poolside, creating an amazing cardigan complete with the Team GB and five rings emblems – complete with a pouch to keep his medals in. 

And superstar Harry caused a sensation when he appeared on a US talk show wearing a multi-coloured patchwork JW Anderson cardigan with a distinctly hand-made feel. At his recent UK shows, many of his fans were seen wearing their own home-made homages.  

Other A-list members of the knitterati are said to include actors Meryl Streep, Ryan Gosling, Kristen Stewart and popstar Lorde – we wonder if she was whipping up a jumper to relax backstage before her appearance on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury last weekend. 

Knitting and crochet have well and truly cast off their old-fashioned image – but they’re seasonal hobbies, more associated with hunkering down on a chilly autumn or winter evening while whipping up a cosy blanket to snuggle up under. 

Spring and summer are traditionally quieter times of year for wool shops – which is why a group of stores in the region are coming together for the first East Anglian Yarn Crawl. 

Being held during July and August, there are six shops in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex to visit, and each shop is giving away prizes, plus there will be special offers and discounts.  

Stuart Race outside his shop The Woolpatch in Long Melford which is one of the stops on the East Anglian Yarn Crawl

Stuart Race outside his shop The Woolpatch in Long Melford which is one of the stops on the East Anglian Yarn Crawl - Credit: Contributed

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Stuart Race, owner of The Woolpatch in Long Melford, has been organising the event with Gavin Alexander, who owns Yarn Worx in Hadleigh with his wife, Teresa.  

As he explains, yarn crawls originated in America, and says that the idea of the East Anglian event is to support yarn shops during their quieter time of year.  

It gives participants the chance to meet fellow crafters, see what different shops in the area have to offer, find inspiration for autumn/winter knitting and crochet projects and stock up their wool stash. 

“It’s basically a knitter’s version of a pub crawl,” says Stuart, who picked up his knitting needles for the first time when he made a career change from teaching to opening a wool and fabric shop in 2016. 

“Summer gets very quiet for wool shops,” he says. “A lot of my customers, as soon as the clocks change in March and the days get longer, they want to be outside and they’re off going to places, visiting friends and spending time in their gardens.  

“So, we thought what can we do to perhaps not only drum up business, but also tap into that tourism side, so if people are going out and are going out with friends or family, can we give them something different to do? 

“And we came up with this yarn crawl. It’s a huge thing in America – there’s a New York Yarn Crawl and a Texas Yarn Crawl, they’re absolutely massive. 

“You can come and get your wools or get your projects, get some inspiration for what you’re going to be knitting and there are prizes to be won and special offers too.” 

The American events are generally held over one weekend, but because the East Anglian Yarn Crawl covers three counties, from coast to countryside, they decided to hold the event over two months.  

A selection of the yarns available at Diss Wool Shop

A selection of the yarns available at Diss Wool Shop - Credit: Contributed

To take part in the yarn crawl, simply download and print out the ‘passport’ from the East Anglian Yarn Crawl website. 

When you present it at one of the participating shops you get a sticker and are entered into a prize draw. 

Each shop is holding its own individual prize draw, and if you complete the trail and collect all six stickers, you’re also entered into a super prize draw. 

“It’s a bit like the old-fashioned sticker books,” says Stuart. “You’d have your football ‘98 sticker book and you would be with your mates going swap, swap, got, got.” 

On the East Anglian Yarn Crawl website there are suggestions for different trails that could perhaps be done in a day, supporting other local businesses by stopping off for coffee and cake or lunch en-route. 

With the school holidays about to start, another idea is to incorporate a trip to one of the wool shops with a visit tourist attraction nearby.  

“There are so many different ways of doing the crawl,” says Stuart.

“You could do three in one day, or you could do a different shop each weekend.

"We’ve tried to choose different shops to offer different things to discover.

"In Hadleigh they do a lot of the high end, hand dyed yarn, whereas at The Woolpatch I do a mid-commercial range and there is another shop that has more acrylics for another price point.” 

Diss Wool Shop is taking part in the East Anglian Yarn Crawl

Diss Wool Shop is taking part in the East Anglian Yarn Crawl - Credit: Contirbuted

Stuart hopes that it will become a regular event and that more shops will get on board for future yarn crawls. 

“We might even do a winter one in January. And hopefully more and more shops will get involved,” he says. 

The shops taking part in the East Anglian Yarn Crawl are: 

Norfolk 

Diss Wool and Crafts 

Suffolk 

The Woolpatch, Long Melford  

Yarn Worx, Hadleigh 

The Knitters Attic, Bredfield, Woodbridge 

Crafty Lasty Yarn, Trimley St Martin, Felixstowe 

Essex 

Sconch Yarn Shop – Braintree 

The East Anglian Yarn Crawl runs during July and August. To find out more, download the ‘passport’ and find out what discounts are on offer, visit eastanglianyarncrawl.co.uk