ANYONE wandering into the wool shop in Pershore’s High Street for the first time could be forgiven for thinking that they had mistakenly walked in on an informal social gathering in someone’s living room.

A group of women are sitting around a table happily chatting away, laughing, telling funny stories, exchanging information, sipping cups of tea or coffee, nibbling on biscuits – oh and either knitting or crocheting.

There are shelves bursting with various types of yarn and other knitting and crocheting paraphernalia but the focal point is the group at the table who appear to be well established friends having a bit of a get-together.

They extend a warm welcome and invite me to take a seat as I go in and wait to speak to the shop owner, who is serving a customer.

The wool shop Yarn and Good Company, run by music teacher Wendy Burfitt, opened a year ago and many of the people who attend her drop-in sessions didn’t know any of the others when they started. And they weren’t necessarily interested in knitting or crocheting.

Wendy said: “I have done knitting and crocheting pretty much all my life and I wanted to share it. I started off teaching informally with friends and about two years ago I got some premises so I could do Knit and Natter.

“I built up the social aspect of people having coffee and teaching knitting and crocheting. Then we lost the wool shop in Pershore and my ladies said: ‘Why don’t you have a go?’

“I am a music teacher by trade and whenever I learn something I like to pass it on.” Wendy also came to realise there was a huge benefit for people getting together. “Psychologically, it is such a benefit. It is calming, it is fun and it is very therapeutic.”

When the shop is open, which is from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday, anyone can drop in from 11am to 2pm for a knit/crochet and a chat.

“I have had between 40 and 50 people coming along to the drop-in sessions over the year. Most days now I have a full table in the shop.” The shop can accommodate 16 people but that means evicting Wendy’s dog from her pet place on the sofa.

“It is very informal. I just ask for a donation for the tea and coffee. I have formal workshops where I teach particular things. We have people who stay all day and some people who stay for half an hour,” said Wendy.

So far there has only been one male turn up to the sessions, although Wendy and the others would be happy to see more. The top designers in the knitting world tend to be men, said Wendy.

Doreen Kent moved from Wolverhampton to Pershore a few years ago with her husband to be near their son. She said she cared for her husband, who had dementia, until he died.

“My son told me about Wendy’s knitting. I did not come for a bit and then I thought I would give it a go and I have come ever since. I am meeting with people who have had similar experiences,” she said.

“We talk about such a big range of subjects. I am pleased I came. In fact, I really look forward to it. I move things and people around so I can still come on a Thursday. In some ways it is the highlight of my life.”

Dawn Warrender has lived in Pershore for 38 years and said she suffers from anxiety and depression. It is hard to imagine this as she is smiling so broadly. However, just stepping through the door for the first time took a huge act of will and bravery.

“I had been looking for something like this for a long time. I have never come across anything like this before. I suffer from depression and anxiety.

“I decided to pluck up the courage and come down. I did feel left out to begin with but I forced myself to keep coming down and now I do not want to go home.

“It is more like a home than anything else. I just love coming down here. I would be down here every day if I could but I have to work. It is my second home. With all these lovely people, I feel at home.”

Helen Abbotts said she also suffers from anxiety and depression and applauds the support she has experienced from the group.

“When I had a difficult time, the love and support was fabulous. You can feel terrible and, quite often by the time you leave, you feel so much better.

“I come three days a week. It is wonderful really. It is a safe haven with like-minded people. I wasn’t really a knitter when I came, and I cannot say I am a knitter now, but I am improving.”

Wendy admits the supportive social aspect of the drop-in sessions are just what she needed for herself.

“Reflecting on my life, it is what I needed,” she said. “The best way to get it is to give it. I get as much support from everyone that they get from each other. I am just a facilitator in my view.”

While the therapeutic benefits for everyone popping into the shop drop-in sessions are obvious, there are also advantages for the wider community.

“We knit for charity,” said Wendy. “We knit for the homeless – hats, scarves, gloves and blankets for Maggs Day Centre and St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester. We knit premature baby clothes and blankets which go to the special care unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”

The group has also been busy knitting and crocheting for the town’s biggest annual event – the Pershore Plum Festival.

They have been busily creating hand-made purple, green and yellow bunting, purple pompoms and plums to decorate the town from the 999 Bike Night on Thursday August 24 until Bank Holiday Monday August 28 – the final day of the plum festival.

Wendy explained: “There is something in the knitting world called yarn bombing. I suggested it to the Wychavon Tourism Officer and we are knitting and crocheting bunting.”

Yarn bombing involves using pieces of knitting to brighten up public spaces – usually on a temporary basis. It is a bit like graffiti, because it generally goes up in secret, but it is much easier to remove.

Wendy added: “This is my first yarn bomb. I have been looking for an excuse to do it and get everyone involved. I have supplied most of the wool although there have been some donations. Most people who go to the drop-in sessions have contributed. It is a bit of a mad thing to do.”

The bunting and other decorations will be adoring the trees in Abbey Park and in Broad Street, Pershore. There will also be a Knitting and Natter stand at the plum festival on Sunday August 27.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the knitting and natter at Yarn and Good Company can call Wendy on 07450366079 or email her at