Hard times leave a yearning for yarn

PUBLISHED: 08:53 30 November 2012

Stitch and Craft Shop with Annette Partlett

Stitch and Craft Shop with Annette Partlett


A new shop is catering for the growing number of knitters and stitchers.

The world of knitting, stitching and sewing has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Knitting needles are no longer the domain of grannies, with the craft embraced by a new wave of “yummy mummies”, keen to make hats and scarves or even onesies for their offspring, all with their own fair hands.

Annette Partlett runs two business ventures out of her shop in London Road, Swanley, which opened in May.

There’s X Stitch Craft, selling cross-stitch kits, and The Village Wool Shop, selling wool, knitting patterns, haberdashery and all the rest.

Unusually she began online and branched out into the “real world” rather than vice versa. That move is thanks to a return to simple, inexpensive hobbies, she says.

“The bad side of the economy is not bad for hobbies like knitting and cross-stitch. Knitting isn’t expensive. People haven’t got as much to spend on going out.”

Annette, 55, had been doing cross-stitching for decades but never thought of making a business out of her passion until one day, while nestled on the sofa watching television, something caught her eye.

“I was watching a programme about cross-stitch patterns of Thomas Kinkade [American artist] paintings and it inspired me. I love his designs. It may sound a bit odd but that was when I decided to start selling cross-stitch.”

She gave up her customer services job in the banking sector after 23 years because of ill health, but when recuperated she was ready for the next step in her life.

Things started small, with the business running from her home, but, when demand rose beyond the confines of her house, she looked for a shop and came upon the empty unit in Swanley.

“I live in West Malling so it isn’t too far and I saw it was in a good location. They had also lost their wool shops around here,” she says.

Annette continually adds new products to her shelves to keep the shop door swinging.

While it may seem all the colours of wool in the world would be available, the industry keeps itself in business by being as trend-based as the fashion catwalks, as Annette explains.

“You get fashion wools, your basics, different colours and those suited to the particular season. Now we are in winter we have got great big chunky stuff coming in.”

The cross-stitch community is fairly consistent but it is the rise in knitters that has led to Annette going into the woolly market.

“Knitting has always been around but it is having a really popular phase. People of all ages are knitting again. So I’ve decided to set up a separate wool arm in the same shop.”

The budding knitters in the community have come together in force and set up two clubs where they can share tips and teach techniques to newbies.

Called The Village Crafters, they meet on every other Tuesday and Saturday from 10am to noon. To find out more call the shop on 01322 613005.

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