Do you consider yourself a good shopper? Were you one of those teenagers whose idea of a perfect Saturday was one spent mooching with your friends round your favourite haunts, trying things on and preening in the fitting rooms? Truly, that could not have been further from my personal reality. I am not a good or patient clothes shopper. It's something I have tried to get better at, but really it is still a mission to be conquered rather than a pleasure in it's own right.
But retailing of other things? Well, I love it. Principally the way that a really good shop can make you feel like you could move in and never ever leave. The sense of excitement when you know there is a visit on the cards and the urge to buy something there, so that you can capture a tiny bit of the essence of the place to take home with you.
Last week, Monica and I went on a field trip to a new yarn shop. It is called The Fibreworks and is in Chipping Norton. Claire and Leslie, the lovely owners opened their shop in October and had emailed to tempt us over for a look. Well, you don't need to ask twice. All yarn shops are, in my book, a good thing. Pretty colours, balls and skeins for squishing, new things to discover. In short, temptation.
And on this front, The Fibreworks delivers in spades. They stock a really well curated choice of yarns - familiar staples like Debbie Bliss, great affordable options like Lang yarns (not too familiar to me, but I was impressed by what I saw) and the wonderfully niche things like locally grown alpaca!
But it takes more than good stock to achieve the retail X factor. It helps to have charming owners. Claire was in the middle of teaching a beginners sock knitting workshop in the studio upstairs, but she still made time for a chat and let us ooh and aah over their plans for the Spring window display (there were knitted mouse y-fronts involved - it warranted close inspection!)
And Leslie was just lovely and incredibly knowledgeable about their stock - helping me to identify a likely substitute yarn candidate from a secret box of pre-release samples. Quite honestly, I could happily have just plonked myself down on the window seat and nattered to her. Which is, I'm sure, what many of the customers feel.
Because there is an atmosphere of coming home inside the shop. Which I may have totally failed to capture by neglecting to remember my decent camera on the day we visited. So excuse the 'happy snap' nature of the photos.
Everywhere you kook, there are the little personal touches that make you smile.
And leave you feeling inspired.
In short, it's one of those places - the kind which you tell friends who might be passing that way to stop at. Because you know that the magic will work on them too and you'd hate for them to miss it.
And it is places like this that reassure me that even in these day of infinite choice, internet shopping and the ease of bargain hunting online, that great independent shops will continue to exist and thrive. And yes, you know a little something came home with me.
What's your favourite place to buy yarn? Will you make a special trip to visit? Why do you love it?