Ottawa knitting shops shutting down after 20 years

She's powered by a strong dose of British wartime grit and she's unafraid of ruthlessly "ripping back" to salvage knitting disasters, but after more than 20 years in business the owner of Yarn Forward & Sew-On is closing shop for good.

Carol Manship opened Yarn Forward & Sew On in Kanata and Glebe in 1990s

Carol Manship is closing both Yarn Forward & Sew-On locations after 20 years of business. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

She's powered by a strong dose of British wartime grit and she's unafraid of ruthlessly "ripping back" to salvage knitting disasters, but after more than 20 years in business the owner of Yarn Forward & Sew-On is closing shop for good.

Carol Manship's stores at 581 Bank St. and 474 Hazeldean Rd. have been a part of Ottawa's craft scene for years.

I love the business and I love what I'm doing, but I keep thinking of all the things on my bucket list.- Carol Manship, owner

Both locations will close Saturday, June 30, though customers of the Kanata shop can look forward to the opening of a new yarn shop in the fall.

The shops have sold yarn in many different fibres and colours. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

"I've reached that stage in my life when I've got things I want to get on with and do before I get to be too old and decrepit, and the lease comes to an end now," Manship, 73, recently told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

"I was really in a situation where I had got to commit myself for another five years or bite the bullet and get out. I'm getting out while the going's good.... I love the business and I love what I'm doing, but I keep thinking of all the things on my bucket list."

'I always just knit'

Manship first started the company as an online order business in November 1996.

In September 1997, she opened the first store in Kanata, then opened the Glebe location in 1998, when she became a Husqvarna Viking Sewing Machine and Serger dealer.

But knitting had been a big part of Manship's life long before she got into business. She was born toward the end of the Second World War and grew up with three knitters: her mother, an aunt who was badly injured in the war, and a friend of her aunt's who was bombed out of her house.

The doors of both locations will close on Saturday, June 30. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

"I think as soon as I was able to pick up needles they put them in my hand and I started knitting," Manship said. By the time she was about seven years old, she could already knit socks.

"I can't remember when I started knitting, I always just knit," she said.

Mixed reactions from customers

Manship has been getting mixed reactions from customers about the pending closures.

"They're very generous toward us in as much as they're pleased to hear that I'm taking life by the horns and getting on and retiring, but how dare we go and leave them, what are they going to do, and who's going to solve their problems?" she joked.

And she's good at fixing the mistakes people bring in for diagnosis.

Charlie has been a regular fixture at the Bank Street shop for many years, and is loved by more than a few customers. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

"I'm very good at ripping back. I ruthlessly pull the needles out of the work and zip back 20 rows and put the needles back in and tell you, tough, go back to knitting it," she said.

As for herself, she may be retiring from the knitting business, but not from knitting altogether.

"I'll never stop knitting. It's therapy."

CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning