The Constant Knitter
We put Dublin yarn shop The Constant Knitter in the spotlight. This busy shop and studio is based in the thriving Liberties area of Dublin. We chatted to proprietor Rosemary Murphy to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about your shop
I opened the shop just over three years ago. I live in the area, which is why I chose such a strange place to open a yarn shop. Also, I loved the building. Francis Street is now famous for its antique shops, galleries and artists’ studios, and is a very creative part of Dublin. Of course, the Liberties was the “Garment District” (the Huguenots, Dutch Billies, Weavers etc) ever before it was the Antiques quarter!
The shop is about three quarters the way down Francis Street on the right hand side – two doors from Oxfam Home, which is a great shop!
One of the things that sets the shop apart is the fact that we have this beautiful studio over it. It is a little bigger than the shop and has windows front and back and a skylight. We have lots of tables and chairs and a great corner with a sofa and coffee table. Because of this we can do great classes/workshops and events, including knit and crochet classes, machine knitting, sewing, embroidery, crewel embroidery, Clones Lace, tatting, and lots of interesting one-off events such as hen parties and charity events.
The Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers meet here every third Sunday in the month from 2-5pm. During that time anybody can drop in and have a look or try some spinning. It’s free and there’s no need to register. And there’s free parking on Sundays for those bringing spinning wheels!
Finally, a few tour groups visit here throughout the year. Amy Detjen has brought a few groups here over the last two years. And I think (but I don’t want to jinx anything by saying who) we will have another hero of mine visiting next May.
What brands of yarn do you stock?
We stock a wide range of Irish yarns, including: Studio Donegal and Cushendale, as well as indie dyers – Life in the Long Grass and Green Elephant Yarns. We also stock international brands such as Schoppel Woolle, Katia, Rico, King Cole and Artesano. And we stock HiyaHiya needles; having tried all ranges of needles I find these are the best!
What are your top selling yarns?
It depends. During the Summer months we have a lot of tourists who buy the Irish yarns and the Irish hand-dyed yarns. And I find that the Americans/Canadians love the Schoppel Wolle because, although they can get it at home, it costs a fortune over there and is very inexpensive here.
What’s the most popular pattern(s) you sell?
Most of my customers use Ravelry and they love Nicola Faull’s patterns under Nicola Faull Designs there. She recently did a big knit-a-long (KAL) with her Abhainn Shawl, twinning this shop with an American shop owned by Mary Penxa, called 2 Rivers Yarns. Nic has a few very popular patterns which sell well here including Wicklow Cloche, Big Sister Bag, Miss Potter Mittens and Baby Bunting Blanket. We have some samples of her work in the shop.
Do you have a favourite designer?
I wouldn’t say I have one particular favourite but one of my standout designers is Kieran Foley. Kieran is a textile designer who trained in our NCAD, worked in Milan and London and now works in knit. His patterns tend to be complex. You can find his designs on kieranfoley.com. He has a huge following in the US and regularly does trunk shows in the shop for our US visitors. He has many fabulous yarn dyers sending him beautiful skeins from all over the world.
Do you have a knitting group in your shop?
At the moment there is no knitting group in the shop.
Who’s your typical customer?
It varies, but we get a lot of students in from the National College of Art and Design, which is just down the street. We also get a lot of costume and set designers (you’ll see lots of wool from this shop in the TV show Vikings!)
Of course we have your stereotypical grannies and newer grannies with their iPads! Then during the Summer we have travellers from all over the world, especially North American and Northern Europe. I’m also seeing more and more men coming in and a much broader age group.
Do you get involved with any charity knitting projects?
I don’t do too much charity knitting myself (you can’t run a yarn shop and do lots of knitting – who knew!). But I’m always happy to donate yarn and shop samples to various charities. HandmAid was a great way of mopping up loads of yarn and samples. But it wasn’t held this year unfortunately. I also like to facilitate Innocent Smoothies hats, which is an annual campaign.
We donate the studio quite regularly to charities, including for the last few years for Africa Day for sewing projects. There are also lots of very local (here in the Liberties) charities – women’s refuges etc – that we like to support. Oxfam Home beside us takes knitted stuff from us too occasionally. It’s the biggest Oxfam Home in Ireland and they are great neighbours.
A little bit more about The Constant Knitter
The shop’s opening hours are: Monday closed, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 10.30 – 6pm, Thurs 10.30 – 8.30pm and Sun 2-5pm.
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