Soper Creek Yarn is an independent yarn shop that is located in the beautiful downtown district of Historic Bowmanville. Being less than an hour from Toronto, it is easy to get to from the city, as it is just off the 401. Having been in business for seven years, Soper Creek Yarn has evolved into a larger space, and the owner Tina Barrie has worked hard at making a shop that appeals to knitters of all tastes and skill sets .
Tina was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for the blog about her shop, and we hope that you enjoy reading all about her business. Should you ever be in the Bowmanville area, be sure to stop by Soper Creek Yarn!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born outside of this country and my family immigrated to Canada when I was two. We arrived in the Bowmanville area in 1965. As a farm kid we learned about hard work and making do. During high school, I was one of those students that took Home Economics all 5 years. I became the costume person for Drama Productions. I love fabric, weaving, quilting, knitting and crochet. They were all techniques that I learned through 4 H projects. My husband is a full-time Farmer and we have two grown children. We are a family that makes things!
How long have you been knitting?
My mother taught me to knit when I was nine and I made the best misshapen triangles. I knit a little bit throughout the teen years. After completing high school, I began working at Rickaby’s which was a small department store. The shop sold giftware, business stationery and greeting cards. There was a Wool Department at the very back of the store, and the ladies in the shop taught me so much about knitting and over the 10 years working there that I gleaned a lot of knitting knowledge.
What is your “Go-To” knitting project?
I love garter stitch- plain old knitting all the time! But, I also like a challenge. Lace is fun! I have to admit that I admire those that do Aran sweaters. I look at those and find them exhausting. There is always a sock or two on the go, but I must admit that there are a lot of lonely socks hanging up in the shop, as that is all one really needs for a store sample.
When did you decide to open a shop?
I think that having my own shop was in my mind for about 30 years. After my children were born I worked part time at various places. I picked apples, worked at a garden centre, a country market and I did contract sewing from home. I also have been doing the billing and accounting for our farm business. When our son was finishing high-school and Rickaby’s had closed, I started to make noises. Then in 2008 I received a call from a friend who said: ‘There is the perfect space for you and I told them you would be in to talk to them!’
How long have you been in business?
The shop celebrates 7 years this December!
What inspired you to open a yarn store?
I really felt there was a need for one in the area. I also wanted to create a place where I could put all of my creative energy and make a job for myself. Even though I had completed marketing and accounting courses my job prospects were limited. This gives me the opportunity to use all the skills I have gleaned over the past 30 years.
What makes your shop unique?
I am fortunate to have a very large space in a downtown location. Every yarn shop (the independent kind) is a reflection of the owner’s tastes and style. But that being said I have had enough experience to know that you must listen to your customers and choose things that they would like to see as well.
Do you have a website? And are you active on social media? If so, where can we find you?
There is a website, not the greatest but it will give out basic information and I try to keep it up to date. I have the most fun on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you offer any classes? Which ones are your most popular?
I struggle with classes. Everyone is very busy so that makes it hard to lock down a single time that works. Our knitting clinics have been quite well received. They are alternate Wednesday’s from 6:30 – 8:00 pm and we cover any and all knitting dilemmas.
What is your favourite Estelle Yarn? (Includes all yarn that Estelle stocks. ie- Cascade, King Cole, etc).
There a lot of favourites. Cascade Ecological Wool is beautiful and soft, and the Cascade 220 is a great all purpose yarn makes wonderful garments and warm accessories. Manos Alegria has amazing colours, and Heritage Sock Yarn makes a great pair of socks. King Cole Authentic is a lovely cotton blend. It is well priced, and good for both kids and adults. We have difficulty keeping King Cole Fashion Aran in stock. It is washable, soft and a really nice yarn for cable sweaters!
What do you want people to know about running a shop?
It’s a lot of work, but I love being in the shop. I have met so many wonderful generous people. I know I can’t please everyone, but I try! I will only purchase yarn or products that I would use myself. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to yarn and tools.
Is there anything else that you think we should know about you or your shop?
I could not do this without the support of my husband (The Farmer). He always said that I could do this. Sunday’s and Monday’s are important to my health and well-being. Closing on those days ensures that I have time to do those other things regular people do on their days off.
I also like the fact that I am still connected to agriculture. The fact that the shop sometimes has the aroma of sheep reminds me that there are men and women working very hard caring for the animals that produce the fibre that we use. Natural fibres ultimately come from the earth and there are families that rely on this income.
I feel very lucky to have two great employees help me out. Helen (who designs for us at Estelle Yarns) keeps me tidy and organized, and Mary works weekends. I don’t know where I would be without them!
The shop is a bit unique as it is one of the few that don’t have a comfy place for people to sit and knit all day. I struggle with that constantly. I like the fact when people come into the shop it is a quiet place to wander and sometimes recover. Many times I have had people come in just to find a bit of quiet in their busy lives. For me, the process of doing anything creative is therapy. The shop is so much more than just yarn.
Thank you so much to Tina for taking the time to chat with us!
Soper Creek Yarn is located at 80 King Street West, Bowmanville, ONT, L1C 1R2.
To give them a call, they can be reached at (905) 623-2336.
To find Soper Creek Yarn online, please click here.
Happy yarn shopping everyone! And big thanks once again to owner Tina.