C/O Handkinit Yarn Studio

Handknit Yarn Studio continues to provide a space for learning and connection during COVID-19

As we move into the winter months, many are looking for activities and hobbies to occupy their time with, especially given the stricter pandemic protocols and travel restrictions.

A fitting hobby for the holiday season is knitting and other yarn crafts, as they are an excellent technology-free pastime and can also make great holiday gifts. Since opening in 2013, Hamilton’s Handknit Yarn Studio has provided not just the space to learn a new hobby but also a space to connect with the community.

Tracy Young opened Handknit Yarn Studio at the encouragement of her friend Kate Hand, who is also now her business partner. Located at 144 James St. North, they carry a collection of quality, independent and eco-friendly yarn as well as a variety of other needlecraft products. 

 

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More than just being a local yarn shop, it’s also important to the staff at Handknit Yarn Studio to provide a space for the community to connect and gather. Prior to the pandemic, they offered a number of classes and workshops, “knit nights”, seasonal knitalongs and other community events. 

“[Many] customers have become regulars and because they come to the Knitalong meetings, they’ve really gotten to know each other. So, they’ve made friends at the shop and we’ve really created a sense of community with the Knitalongs,” explained Young.

“[Many] customers have become regulars and because they come to the Knitalong meetings, they’ve really gotten to know each other. So, they’ve made friends at the shop and we’ve really created a sense of community with the Knitalongs,” explained Young.

The pandemic hasn’t affected their business too terribly. While they have seen some reductions in sales, they have also seen many people taking up knitting and yarn crafts again, particularly as a de-stressor during these trying times.

“[The pandemic] just shuffled things around a little bit . . . We were shut down for a while and now we have a lot of restrictions in place. We don’t really have the traffic that we are accustomed to, especially this time of the year, so we’ve had to be really creative in the way that we do business now. We had to educate and steer people towards online shopping more, or at the very least sort of pre-shopping online before they come in to visit us so that they can minimize their exposure when they come into the shop,” said Young.

 

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The pandemic has profoundly affected the ways in which Handknit Yarn Studio can facilitate community connections. They have been using Instagram Live to host regular Knit in the Cloud meetings and have adapted their seasonal knitalongs to an online format.

Additionally, they have a well-stocked online store with wonderfully detailed descriptions and instructions for each product, and a variety of online learning resources. They are also offering shopping appointments, if people would like to physically come into the store.

So far, their pandemic adaptations have been well received by customers, with many in particular enjoying the Instagram Live sessions.

“They really enjoyed just kind of watching one or two members like goofing off on Instagram . . . I think that it really has almost filled that gap that we had from not being able to meet at the store. They really do feel like they were able to keep a connection with us just by watching us on Instagram,” said Young.

I think that it really has almost filled that gap that we had from not being able to meet at the store. They really do feel like they were able to keep a connection with us just by watching us on Instagram,” said Young.

Young hopes that the Knit in the Cloud meetings can especially help those who are alone during the pandemic. 

“I just hope that after watching us on an Instagram Live that [people] don’t feel as disconnected and isolated. Not everybody sees a lot of people these days, so we just hope that if they see us chatting to each other and they even make comments back and forth amongst each other while they’re watching, it’s just a way to stay connected with people,” explained Young.

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