I had a couple of hours to kill on Wednesday afternoon, waiting for my car to get new tyres and a wheel alignment. The garage was 500 yards from the shop that qualifies as my LYS, Bunty's.
I wandered into Bunty's to look for inspiration, fondle the yarn and buy some buttons. Bunty's is really a consession inside a local department store, Daniels' of West Ealing. Currently, they're crammed into the corner of Daniels' temporary shop (the main one is being redeveloped). They have half the space they did in the old store and none of the glamourous additions new-fangled yarn shops offer (no couches, no lessons, hell there is barely enough room for the cash-register). This is a shop that has been there through thick and thin - the lean times in yarn sales are still with us in Britain - and yet it holds on. They are the only LYS for miles. They do advertise in one of the British knitting magazines, but otherwise you'd only know they existed if someone told you.
I found this gorgeous yarn, tucked into a corner: Rowan's Tapestry, 70% wool 30% Soysilk, in Lead Mine.
It's soft and beautiful to the touch; I haven't knitted with it yet, though. (This link shows the other colourways. I really like the Rustic, too, but I can't wear the colour.) 8 balls should be enough for this sweater from Knitting In Vogue (see sidebar), which dates from 1961. It's called "Soft Sweater with Patterned Yoke" and should show off the variegations beautifully.
(Thank heaven for scanners. I clipped this from the book.)
I got talking to the manager. (I think she is the wife of the owner or his business partner - he's in Pakistan visiting doctors. But either way, she's been there so long the shop is as much hers as his.) Both of them are in their sixties. She confided that she didn't know what would happen if he became too unwell to work - the shop is his life but "the children aren't interested in it". "Once we're gone, it will have to close," she said.
It took all my willpower not to volunteer "I'll take over the shop for you!". I bit back the words, but I would do it in a heart beat.