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Yarn Forward & Sew-On


This thriving family business operates a web site and two store locations, offering a wide variety of quality yarns, patterns and accessories, a full line of quality sewing machines, and is the leading Ottawa=area store for machine embroidery.

Contact Information

581 Bank Street Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 3T4

phone: view phone613-237-8008

fax: view fax613-237-1585

website: http://yarnforward.com



It all began in 1996 when Helen Gunther realized how difficult it was for knitters in Ottawa, and indeed in all of North America, to find quality yarns. Encouraged by her husband Brian, a software engineer and equipped with little more than a computer, an internet connection and the determination that quality yarn should be available to everyone, Helen Gunther took to the World Wide Web and Yarn Forward was born. A few well-placed ads in magazines set the business off and running.

The newly launched web shop offered customers everything from basic acrylics to fine sock yarns, cashmere to cottons and many exotic blends, along with a convenient place to call for help. In less than a year it became apparent to Helen that Ottawa could use a “Bricks and Mortar” version of Yarn Forward and, by the following September, the first Yarn Forward store was opened in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa.

The concept was to stock a good range of yarns, from natural fibres through to synthetics and acrylics. The fact is, young mothers need something that they can throw in the washer and dryer, and not have to care about shrinkage. There are no “yarn snobs” at Yarn Forward. There was also a “wall of patterns” because patterns sell yarn and, back in those days, there were not as many patterns available on the web as there is today. There was a place for children to play; a large table to just sit and knit, study patterns, or relax; and a range of knitting and crochet lessons to encourage new “addicts.” Most important, they offered service, service, service. If you need help, even if Yarn Forward does not supply the yarn and patterns, you get help.

That store was followed by a second shop barely a year later, this time located in the Glebe, one of Ottawa's oldest communities. With the opening of the second location came the addition of a Husqvarna sewing machine dealership accompanied by sewing accessories, notions and a whole wall of colourful threads. Unlike the Kanata store which is in a modern strip mall, the Glebe store is more than 100 years old and, during the renovations, the management team decided to keep the bare brick wall, the tin tiles on the ceilings, and they even uncovered a hard wood floor dating from the 1940s, which was lovingly restored.

Yarn Forward in Kanata later expanded to 2,000 square feet, and would take on the Kanata dealership for Husqvarna sewing machines in 2005.

Now known as Yarn Forward & Sew-On, what began as a one person home-based endeavour, quickly evolved into a thriving family business with 12 staff members and numerous freelance educators. Today, Yarn Forward's web business and two store locations continue to offer a wide variety of quality yarns, patterns and accessories. Both store locations offer a full line of quality sewing machines from basic utility machines to state of the art computerized models. It has also become the leading store in the Ottawa area for machine embroidery - a craft at which Yarn Forward & Sew-On and Husqvarna both excel.

Yarn Forward & Sew-On draws its staff and teachers from a rich pool of local artisans and dedicated hobbyists that pride themselves on offering their knowledge and encouragement to enthusiasts of all skill levels. Yarn Forward is proud that it has developed local talent over the years and some of the teachers are now getting international recognition.

In the quarterly newsletter you will find creative classes designed for beginners to advanced including knitting, crochet, quilting, free motion embroidery, doll making, basic sewing and more. To keep the creative energy flowing, you can join two monthly sewing clubs, one focussed on sewing techniques and the other on machine embroidery or drop in on the Thursday Sit & Knit where knitters converge around a large family table to knit , share stories and compare stashes. Yarn Forward also hosts a variety of special events each year such as seminars and trunk shows featuring the latest fashions designed by some of the industry's leading yarn companies as well as guest appearances from well-known fibre artists and authors.

As the customers have shown tremendous support for the business, Yarn Forward has also done its part to give back to the community. In an effort to combine knitting with charity, Yarn Forward has supported the Ottawa Snowsuit Fund since 1997. Throughout the year, Yarn Forward provides free yarn to customers who knit mittens, hats, and scarves which are then returned to the store. Since its inception 10 years ago, Yarn Forward's customers have provided approximately 10,000 items to the Snowsuit Fund in Ottawa!

Whether you're visiting the Nation's capital on a business conference, on vacation, or for a sprint down the world's longest skating rink, you will find Yarn Forward's convenient Glebe location is just minutes away from beautiful Parliament Hill and the historic Rideau Canal. The Kanata location in the west end offers a less hurried location with plenty of free parking. So, if you are in the neighbourhood stop by the store for a visit. The coffee is always on and the welcome mat is at the door.

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