Handweavers, as it has been fondly known for years, is currently in its third cycle of ownership and second physical location since opening its doors in 1973.
The following summary of Handweavers history was drawn together for Yarnmaker magazine in 2016. Historic details came from personal accounts, written by various Handweavers’ staff and owners, that are either held in Handweavers archive or have been published in:
Warp & Weft (London Guild of WSD Newsletter); Issue 235, 236, 250
The Journal for WSD;J230, J237
A Brief History
Handweavers was established in 1973 by four friends, Lore Youngmark, Mike Halsey, Raie Barnett and Nancy Lee Child. They recognised the need for a shop, gallery and teaching centre for both professional and hobby weavers, spinners and dyers in the London area; each of them brought their personal talents to the enterprise. Their shop front at 29 Haroldstone Road, Walthamstow became a gallery with finished items for show and sale. Other rooms in the premises housed looms and spinning wheels for teaching, plus supplies for sale. As the years passed, the gallery aspect diminished and the shop became filled by an ever-growing selection of yarns, fibres, books and equipment. True to it’s founding vision, it continued to be a friendly nurturing place for spinners and weavers - their go-to place for knowledge, support and supplies!
When Nancy (the last of the four friends) announced her intended retirement, a palpable ripple was felt throughout the London WSD community - and beyond. Happily for all, Wendy Morris, a passionate weaver, stepped into the breach along with her husband John. Together they found and transformed premises at 140 Seven Sisters Road into what, in 2009, became Handweavers beautiful new home.
Having learnt to weave at Handweavers, Wendy understood the value of such a resource to the hand-weaving community. Under Wendy’s direction the Handweavers yarn selection continued to grow, encompassing a host of fascinating and often difficult to find yarns, which were made available in small sampling quantities. In addition to programming an extensive range of workshops and regular classes, she built a flagship two-year weave study course.
Again, ripples were felt in 2015 when Wendy announced that she was looking to retire…
Dawn and Alan Willey took over at the ‘helm’ of Handweavers in April 2016. They work along with an enthusiastic team - two of whom worked for Nancy at the original location! - to maintain and develop the yarn, fibre and equipment ranges; and ensure that spinners and weavers of all types, can find the supplies, knowledge and inspiration they need to nurture and enhance the enjoyment of their crafts.
The plan is that Handweavers will continue its legacy and be a teaching, nurturing, welcoming haven bursting with luscious colour and texture!