Purlescence: shop profile

purlescence-logo The kids go back to school today, so it’s a quick post for my first day back at work but happily another yarn shop profile!

Purlescence is rather a special kind of yarn shop. While primarily online, Purlescence is often found at various yarn shows and festivals throughout the UK where they meet many of their customers face to face. If you’re in the Oxfordshire area, you can also make an appointment to pop in, or plan to attend one of their workshops or quarterly Open Days where there are often special guests or offers. Having been both a workshop attendee, and a guest designer at a recent Open Day, I can vouch for this! It’s nice way to experience their friendly service in person, and also touch and pet their glorious yarns.

Owned by husband and wife team Jonathan and Sarah Lewis, Purlescence has built itself a reputation for carrying luxury and harder to find brands. Sarah kindly answered some questions for us so read on to learn more about Purlescence.


Tell us a bit about Purlescence. How long have you had your wonderful shop and how did you get started with it?
Purlescence is primarily an online store, but we do have regular open days and workshops at our premises in rural Oxfordshire. We are pleased to welcome visitors to our showroom by appointment.

We attend most of the large yarn shows in the UK. This year you can find us at Unravel, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Wonderwool, Fibre East and Yarndale.

I’ve wanted to open a yarn shop ever since my Gran taught me to knit when I was small. I feel as though I’m following in her footsteps as she had a yarn shop back in the 1940’s. When Purlescence came up for sale it was the perfect fit. High quality products and a great reputation, giving us a fabulous base on which to build and develop the shop further. Jonathan, my husband, is the not-so-visible half of Purlescence and does plenty of the technical stuff behind the scenes and is definitely an invaluable part of things. He may not be a knitter, but is currently working on becoming the Purlescence crochet expert.

Most yarn shops these days seem to have some kind of specialty – what is Purlescence’ s?
We pride ourselves on having a comprehensive selection of the products we stock. For example, we stock the full range of almost 100 colours of the Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight yarn, and the complete range of Fyberspates yarn including Vivacious, Gleem, Cumulus and Scrumptious in all of the colours.

We try and source those harder to get items, such as yarns from HandMaiden and SweetGeorgia, as well as a great selection of hugely popular lines such as needles and hooks from ChiaoGoo.

customers at purlescence

Customers check out the wall of Fyberspates on display at Purlescence

What is the best (or your favourite) thing about being a yarn shop owner?
Well having a desk surrounded by gorgeous yarns of all the colours of the rainbow is hard to beat, but I think my favourite aspect has to be the people. We’ve met some lovely people along the way, both customers and suppliers, many of whom have become good friends. I never tire of seeing so many friendly faces at the various shows and events.

If you weren’t running Purlescence, what would you be doing?
Before Purlescence came along I worked as a management accountant, so probably something along those lines. Not nearly as lovely as running a yarn store.

Occupational hazard: do you just want to knit EVERYTHING? How do you find new yarns and treats to keep things fresh? What’s your approach?
My basic premise for what we have in the shop is that it has to be something that I love and believe in. As a rule, yes I want to knit with whatever has just arrived. Its great fun searching out new things and exciting to see how what I’ve chosen is received by our customers.

Do you have a favourite yarn or product that you carry?
That’s a tough one, and it probably changes on a very regular basis, with every new arrival. At the moment I’m knitting a sweater in SweetGeorgia Trinity Worsted, which is just fabulous to work with. But ask me again in another couple of weeks…

SweetGeorgia yarns and fibre on offer at Purlescence - just look at that colour!

SweetGeorgia yarns and fibre on offer at Purlescence – just look at that colour!

Are you multi-craftual or do you stick exclusively to knitting?
Up until fairly recently, it’s been just knitting. But after suffering with tennis elbow towards the end of last year I had to cut down my knitting time so treated myself to a sewing machine. So far, I’ve made one fairly basic quilt and some table mats. I’ve got plans for some dress-making too. I just need to find the time.

What do you knit while on holiday?
I tend to try to plan something not too complicated or bulky for holiday knitting. So usually something like a scarf, shawl or hat, or maybe socks. Although I do suffer from second sock syndrome!

Do you have a favourite time of year (either for you, your crafting, or the shop)?
I think my favourite time of year generally is Spring. Everything is fresh and bright, the colours are vibrant and there’s just a little bit of warmth starting to creep into the sunshine.

Any plans or exciting things happening with your shop in 2015 that you’d like to share?
We have exciting plans for some new workshops to run during the course of the year. They’re still at the planning stage, but watch this space… We’re also continuing to fine tune our brand new website which we’re very proud of.

Many thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions. And if you fancy seeing Purlescence and their yummy yarns in person, they’ll soon be at Wonderwool Wales, on 25th-26th April!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s