I regularly pass Wet Coast Wools on my way through the West 4th Avenue Kitsilano corridor, often stopping to glance at their windows filled with adorable hand-knit creations. On a sunny, bitter December afternoon, I decided it was time to pop in and meet the brains behind the shop, Glenda McDonald.
Wet Coast Wools was started by husband-and-wife team Glenda McDonald and Michael Delage. A North Vancouver native, McDonald learned to knit while at university. On studies abroad in Newcastle, England, she again got her hands busy with knitting together with a group, who imparted valuable knitting techniques onto her.
She loves to share her knowledge and skills, and offers a varied selection of quality wools and knitting products at the shop. Each yarn tells a story, and Glenda is happy to tell it.
The store is very open and bright, and features a large worktable in the centre where classes, drop-in knitting groups, and occasional movie nights are held. Glenda and Michael aimed to create an inviting atmosphere for fibre artists to gather and share their crafty knowledge. The shop sells a wide range of yarns and supplies for knitting, crochet, and needle felting, as well as knitting bags by Jordana Paige and a selection of books and patterns. Whether an absolute beginner or a seasoned, experienced crafter, there’s something for everyone here.
I asked Glenda about the knitting and crafting community in Vancouver. “Since we opened I’ve been really surprised by the diversity of knitters that have come into the store: young people and old, beginners, local gurus, people picking up the needles for the first time in years, and even some really skilled guys who aren’t quite ready to admit their hobby to the world. The best part of having the store is being able to talk with our customers – cool or challenging projects, newly released patterns, fibres, yarns colours, you name it – and feeding off of their enthusiasm. Sometimes the hardest part is reminding myself that I really can’t cast on for the amazing projects they show me, because I already have way too many projects on the go!”
Wet Coast Wools offers regular knitting classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels. The beginner class is a three-week program covering the basics of knitting – casting on, knitting, purling, casting off, and how to read patterns (and sometimes more if time allows). Students make a pair of fingerless gloves during the class, and cast on for a new project in the final lesson. The more advanced classes are usually based around particular projects – hats, headbands, socks, and – coming in late January – a top-down sweater class.
January class info will be posted on the website over the next few weeks.
Commercially-produced yarns include brands such as Noro, Lion Brand, Debbie Bliss, Katia, Cascade, and Malabrigo. In addition, you can find a selection of yarns created by Canadian yarn artisans, including Gastown-based dyer RainCityKnits, Gabriola Islands’ Indigo Moon, and Carstairs, Alberta’s Custom Woolen Mills.
Wet Coast Wools is the only local retailer of Imperial Yarns (from Oregon’s Imperial Stock Ranch) and of gorgeous llama, alpaca, and llama/silk yarns by llimani Yarns of Montreal. Their pattern collection is also very Vancouver-focused, with patterns from local designers Miss Craft It, NattyPat Crochet, The Red Fox and Gown, and Tin Can Knits.
Almost all of their products can be viewed online, making it easy to browse their collection of yarns and accessories. Customers can either have items shipped or select the ‘store pick-up’ option the next time they’re in the area.
Wet Coast Wools is located at 2923 West 4th Avenue just due west of Macdonald in Vancouver. Visit the website for more information on classes and events.