Video: Leeds knitters beat recession

It was the 19th century lifeblood of West Yorkshire and helped to put cities like Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield on the map.

But now wool is officially back and a new shop in Leeds is fuelling the latest trend by running popular learn-to-knit classes.

However, amateur knitters might have to wait to pick up their needles as classes are fully booked until December.

Verity Britton, who runs Baa Ram Ewe on Otley Road, Headingley, said: "Wool is definitely back in fashion and it's becoming a very popular trend among young people and students.

"It's really taking off, partly because of the recession, but also because people like to put their own stamp on things.

"Places like Halifax, Bradford and Leeds would be nothing without wool, so it's great to have the shop because it's bringing wool and the art of knitting back to Leeds where it belongs."

Verity, 33, learned to knit as a child but took up the craft again four years ago after her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

When her mum died, she inherited all her wool and patterns and the former radio producer opened her own business in June.

Baa Ram Ewe stocks some of Yorkshire's most famous brands of wool, including Sirdar of Wakefield, Rowan of Holmfirth and King Cole of

Keighley as well as wool from British sheep and alpacas.

Verity said: "A lot of people think that knitting is just about big granny jumpers, but it's not anymore. You can create some really fashionable clothes out of wool and there's some really good designers out there.

"You can use wool in all sorts of ways. You can knit toys for babies and one of the pupils in my class is even knitting a Dalek.

"Running the shop is a challenge but I think my mum dying made me stronger. I'm not afraid of trying new things anymore because life's too short."

The launch of Baa Ram Ewe follows a campaign to encourage more people to shop at Headingley's independent stores, with councillors urging residents to make the most of the area's businesses.

Coun Jamie Matthews (Lib Dem, Headingley) said: "I think Baa Ram Ewe is a great addition to our variety of local shops.

"Businesses like these encourage people to shop locally and I've seen young people knitting on the grass at Woodhouse Moor, so it's obviously becoming more and more popular in these times of recession."

The learn-to-knit classes are held on Thursdays.

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