It’s been six-and-a-half years since we last profiled Kathy’s Knits.
Back in July 2012, locals Cathy and Leslie Robb were preparing to open the doors at 64A Broughton Street for the first time. It was a new venture after Leslie’s recent retirement from asset managers Baillie Gifford, and rather a leap of faith as nowhere else in Edinburgh was specialising in top-end British yarn at the time.
It was a risk that amply paid off. The small basement business has steadily built up a loyal Edinburgh clientele, and is now also a destination-store for woolly minded visitors from around the world.
Cathy worked before as a district nurse, but had been a dedicated ‘yarnie’ ever since she learned the rudiments at her Shetland grandmother’s knee. Years later, having completed a diploma in designer knitwear, she understood that fellow enthusiasts would flock to a shop where they could see, touch, and discuss hand-picked British yarns remarkable for their durability and range of colours.
In the evenings and at weekends, the shop now also organises classes for no more than 10 people at a time, of varying abilities. Cathy runs some of these herself; others are led by pattern designer Lucy Hague (who also occasionally helps in the shop) and leading Edinburgh designer Ysolda Teague. There are more social events as well, with talks and informal chats for the cognoscenti.
Leslie says the business has made real progress over the past 2–3 years, helped by a growing reputation at home and abroad, a weak pound, and the growing popularity of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
As important, though, is the attraction of Broughton Street. ‘There are very few places like it,’ he told Spurtle this morning. ‘The quality and variety of bars, restaurants, craft shops, and food retailers makes this a street people really enjoy discovering and returning to.’