Today we are featuring a yarn store in the Kingston, Ontario area. Easily accessed from the 401, this yarn shop is a delight for knitters and crocheters alike! So without further ado, we would like to introduce you to Anne, of KnitTraders.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I have lived in Kingston for 20 years and have 3 launched daughters, and a great guy at home who makes me supper now that he is retired. I taught French Immersion for 12 years and when we moved to Kingston I lost my seniority so decided to try another career that would be more secure and predictable. (Boy, was I naive!)
How long have you been knitting?
My brother and I learned to knit by watching my grandmother. When each of our 2 younger brothers were born, she would come to help out and knit each of us a sweater (Mary Maxim).
My skills were refined by a ridiculous grade 7 teacher who literally taught us nothing of any use, except how to follow a knitting pattern. I made one of those swirly lace beanies that were all the rage in the 60’s and I must admit, it was a heck of a challenge for a 12 year old, but it did give me a sense of confidence. My first sweater was when I was 12. Each week I would take the bus to town to buy another skein to keep me going for the next week. I followed a pattern but was not at all concerned about gauge so I do believe that my beautiful blue wool sweater had a chest size of at least 52inches but I didn’t mind. I just threaded a bright red ribbon through the bottom of the ribbing and it looked quite smart – or at least I believed so.
What is your “Go-To” knitting project?
My latest favourite is Diving In, a great “fichu”. It is totally mindless and completely fun and allows me to focus on just enjoying how the colours play together. I’ve also just begun my second “Basic Black” by Glenna. I just finished the last one a couple of weeks ago and decided that I loved it so much I wanted one in every colour, or at least a second one, this time in red Cascade 220 Superwash Sport.
When did you decide to open a shop?
In the spring of 1996, I was laid off from my teaching job. I had knitted commercially for yarn shops in Victoria for a few years in the early ’80’s and had developed and kept up my skills since then so it seemed like an interesting field to look at as Kingston had only one small knitting shop at the time.
How long have you been in business?
September 12th, 1996 we opened as an independently owned franchise of Wool-Mart/Wool-Tyme out of Ottawa. In 2012 we changed the name to KnitTraders of Kingston in order to make a clearer distinction between the 2 stores and to be able to develop a greater on-line presence.
What inspired you to open a yarn store?
It was a great way to build on the skills I had been developing to that point in my life as a knitter, a business person and a teacher. People often ask me if I miss teaching and the answer is that I never left it.
What makes your shop unique?
At KnitTraders we are dedicated to helping every knitter succeed. This is our mission. Obviously it doesn’t mean that we could possibly guarantee that all knitting projects sold in our store will be a success, but we do recognize our customers as unique individuals who see knitting as having a particular role in their lives. We want to be part of developing that relationship. Translated to real life that means that we’re committed to offering a broad selection of projects including yarns, patterns, accessories of course, but also quality classes (group and private) and support to help our customers along their knitting journey. I’ve made a great effort over the years to hire staff who can work within that supportive framework with each of our customers.
Do you have a website? And are you active on social media? If so, where can we find you?
Ravelry group: KnitTraders of Kingston
Site of free patterns designed at/for KnitTraders of Kingston. Www.wtkpatterns.blogspot.com
We also have our monthly e-newsletter that is received by friends and customers who have gone on to share it with others on each of the continents around the world. It’s very cool. People can sign up to receive the newsletter from the home page on our website.
Do you offer any classes? Which ones are most popular?
We have offered a weekly set of classes for the past 17 years that is essentially a “Rent an Auntie” session. This is where people come with their projects and we have a couple of teachers who help participants interpret patterns and learn new techniques. Kingston has a lot of shift workers so it works well to offer this flexible format.
Our most popular workshop class is the “Sock In A Day” class during in which we make a very funny looking chunky sock between 10am and 3pm. It may be odd looking, but it does a fine job of teaching the different steps sock knitting.
What is your favourite Estelle Yarn? (Includes all yarn that Estelle stocks. ie- Cascade, King Cole, etc).
I have not met a Cascade yarn that I didn’t really like. I was surprised and a bit skeptical when they started bringing out more acrylic based yarns, but I have been won over and we now stock Pacific Worsted and Pacific Chunky, Bentley, Pluscious, and Swaddle.
What do you want people to know about running a shop?
It was a wise business consultant/friend who pointed out that people who begin a business based on their passion and/or hobby no longer have that hobby to turn to for relaxation and restoration. Anyone planning to get into this line of work should ask themselves very seriously: “Am I prepared to move my knitting over to the “work” column of my life?” I still enjoy knitting and designing, but they do play a very different role in my life now.
Is there anything else that you think we should know about you or your shop?
Because we are the biggest yarn store between the GTA and Montreal along Hwy 401, and we have 3 post secondary institutions in town (to which parents regularly drop kids off) and a huge “cottage country” just north of us, we have wonderful regular customers who come from all over. We all love to visit yarn stores when we’re traveling or in a different city. I’d like to let your readers know that we are so easy to find (South at exit 611 off the 401), and would love to have them visit us when they come to the Kingston area or are on their way through while whizzing down the highway.
KnitTraders can be found at:
Hours of Operation:
Sundays & Holidays- Closed
A huge thank you goes out to Anne for answering all of our questions! We hope that you are all given the opportunity to get yourself into Anne’s store at some point soon. We guarantee that it is worth the trek- no matter where you reign from!
And if it really is just too far for you, be sure to sign up for her newsletter! It is always informative, and full of great yarn related chatter- definitely worth a read! So be sure to head over to her site and sign up.
If you are a yarn shop- or know of a yarn shop!- who does business with Estelle Yarns, and would like to be featured on our blog, please let us know in the comments below! We will be in touch as soon as possible. Thank you!
Happy knitting everyone!