Posted on Thursday, June 23 2011 at 8am
We do like a yarn shop owner with imagination, and Katey Walker, who owns Ramshambles of York, definitely has plenty to spare! To celebrate her shop’s first birthday and draw locals back to popular tourist street the Shambles, Katey borrowed a small flock from Cluny Chapman at Highfield Textiles.
It all began as a bit of a joke, Katey admits, grinning. “We were discussing how to celebrate the shop's fist birthday and I jokingly said, wouldn't it be great to have a couple of the sheep at the shop? Cluny said her Shetland sheep were used to being shown and handled and it was quite feasible to bring a ewe and a lamb!”
Taking the idea of ‘bring your pet to work day’ to the max, Katey and Cluny managed to get York City Council on board with the idea and decided to bring two ewes and four lambs into town in a trailer, then herd them through the streets to the yarn shop, making sure people in the area had a chance to catch on to what was happening.
“The ewes were led on rope tethers and the lambs dutifully trotted behind,” Katey says. “The sheep were quite noisy and a crowd soon gathered. We had a pen set up at the front of the shop for the sheep and they were quite happy to be petted and stroked.”
The gorgeous creamy, caramel and chocolate brown fleeced Shetland sheep remained there for two and a half hours, charming passersby who couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.
In addition to drawing attention to the yarn shop, Katey is hoping the event reminded the city’s residents what the Shambles has to offer them.
“The locals have sort of got used to leaving the street to the tourists, assuming that it is just a crowded touristy street with nothing for them,” Katey says. “I'm constantly surprised by the number of local people who call in our shop and say ‘Oh, I didn't realise there was a wool shop here’ when it's been here in one form or another for about 70 years!”
Nothing brings a community of together quite like a penful of adorable animals, as Katey soon discovered.
“The atmosphere was fantastic and everybody was smiling,” she says. “A few school parties came by, they absolutely loved it. We led the sheep down Shambles and back again, creating a real stir! I’m not sure what I'm going to do for our second birthday!”