Visiting the yarn shop

When I was a girl, we used to go to ‘the wool shop’.

Calling it this is common in the UK, certainly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In the US and many other parts of the world they visit ‘the yarn store’, known as the LYS – Local Yarn Store. I meet lots of interesting people in my job, and one day I was teaching crochet to a woman who had lived in the US, and she told me about her time there. Something I hadn’t grasped from forums or chatting to other people was the general size and social aspect of the LYSes, which she described as having trolleys, stacks and shelves of colourful yarns, tables to craft at, and drinks machines (sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?!)

Anyway, in a nutshell…


Wool is the stuff that grows on sheep.

Yarn is whatever you are using, whether it is wool, acrylic (which is man made), silk, bamboo, or anything else.


So why do we call it all ‘wool’ in the North of England?

It may be historical, from when alternatives were limited and most yarn was made from sheep fluff.


What’s wrong with calling it wool?

Some people don’t like to use the word ‘yarn’, or think it’s an American term.
I feel that if you need to explain a business name, it’s probably a poor choice, but here goes:


  • Sometimes when you change colour you might ‘carry’ the yarn
  • It sounds a bit like ‘Caroline Stitching’
  • ‘Carry Wool Stitching’ doesn’t sound right
  • ‘Carry Yarn Stitching’ is correct, because I use (and encourage others to use) wool and many other yarns
  • It’s also a play on ‘Carry On Stitching’, which wasn’t a film made by the Carry On team, but should have been. I have plenty of jokes


I do slip up from time to time, but from now on I will try to call wool ‘yarn’, (unless it is wool), and I’m going to visit ‘the yarn shop’.

It seems a good compromise.