There is a yarn for every craft in the popular online store

“IT’S GREAT that people can take a cone of yarn and turn it into something portable, practical, or decorative by creating stitches, knots, or rows.”

Joanne Richardson runs Airedale Yarns – our T&A Trader of the Week – an online business providing rare and unusual yarns to make creative projects interesting and unique. They include yarns made from wool, jute, paper, cashmere, silk, and mohair, as well as a variety of synthetic fibers.

“The same cone can become a myriad of different things,” adds Joanne. “Rug yarn is the biggest seller right now. This is due to its versatility for crocheting, weaving or tufting rugs, although a very recent trend is to use a tufting gun where the yarn is pulled through a gun on a burlap background, resulting in a much faster end product.

After a foundation course in art at Bradford College, Joanne studied for a diploma in craft design where she specialized in textiles. “I’ve been an artisan all my life, whether it’s knitting, crocheting, embroidery or sewing,” she says. “I am now learning to machine knit.

She worked for a large yarn retail company in Bradford for over 20 years until it closed in 2015. The following year she and her husband Guy decided to start Airedale Yarns focusing on retail carpet weaving and manufacturing yarn line.

The couple tend to source their yarns from local suppliers who often buy redundant stock from weaving mills, knitwear manufacturers and other similar places. “It can be unique yarns where you won’t find anyone else selling the same yarn, or unusual yarns that we repackage in much smaller, user-friendly packages,” says Joanne.

“All of our suppliers are local to West Yorkshire which is great whether it’s carpet yarn from carpet mills, cotton twists or mohair importers – products can be sourced from over away, but we can see them in Bradford, Keighley, Bingley or Halifax before we buy.”

The couple often advise others on yarn thickness and which yarns and fibers are best for certain tasks such as carpet making. “We really should have an FAQ section on our website because people always ask how much yarn they’ll need for a rug…literally ‘how long does a piece of string last?’

“We don’t follow any trends with what we buy, but we do notice colors that are popular. Everyone still loves grey, but we also currently sell quite a few earth tones, golds and coppers and lots of deep greens and blues.

Craft kits are extremely popular. “This was especially the case during lockdown as everything was included and delivered straight to the door,” says Joanne. “They are also very popular at Christmas for stocking stuffers, secret Santas etc…”

The closures led to a “very busy year” for the company. “I think people chose all the trades they had always wanted to try. We sold more macrame kits than we could make and were lucky enough to be featured on This Morning. So we got more orders in 20 minutes than we normally would have in a month. I think this is the closest we’ve ever come to going viral and it meant working long nights and Sundays to catch up.

She adds: “Macrame – which looks more complicated than it is – is hugely popular and it seemed like everyone in the country had to have one of our macrame kits. Indoor plants have seen a resurgence in popularity, as has macrame, as it allows growers to hang them. »

Customers sometimes send in pictures of something they’ve made, which is a treat, says Joanne.

Although yarn is a very tactile product, customers now have much more confidence when buying online. “They are confident in the knowledge that if a color isn’t quite right, we can swap it out for them, so there’s very little risk.

“There aren’t many yarn stores selling cone yarn or machine knitting yarn so they are always happy to find any exciting yarns we might have that they couldn’t find in their store of local wool.”


Laura J. Boyer