Wool and wisdom: the knitting zen of a Chesterfield market hall shop

“Try not to want, or to do too much, all at once. If people had a bit more patience in life, then I’m sure they’d be happier.”
Jason at The Wool Cabin in Chesterfield Market HallJason at The Wool Cabin in Chesterfield Market Hall
Jason at The Wool Cabin in Chesterfield Market Hall

“We’ve got to a stage in our lives where everyone wants everything, now. Realistically, that’s impossible. Always take time out. Think about what you want. Build up to what you want. Eventually, if you’re a bit more patient, we’re likely to get what we want.”

These are the wise words of Jason Hampson, who runs The Wool Cabin in the Chesterfield Market Hall. Nine years in, his shop obviously popular, our conversation a knit, purl and pause from an always flow of customers.

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Jason, a man who sells knitting products and also knits, has a worldview zen that seems entwined with the act of knitting.

The Wool Cabin, Chesterfield Market HallThe Wool Cabin, Chesterfield Market Hall
The Wool Cabin, Chesterfield Market Hall

“You forget about everything that is going on. In your head, all you can see is which part of the pattern you’re going next. It’s great. Some people might say a difficult pattern is stressful, but it’s not if you plan it out properly, and do it bit by bit. If you try and do it all at once then it’s…”

Jason shrugs, laughing as another customer enters the shop. A gentleman trying to find a fix for a hole in the jumper he’s wearing. Jason takes time to walk him round the shop, to match the yarn colour, and find the right needle for the job.

When asked ‘why a wool shop?’, Jason smiles. “The inspiration starts from my late mother who used to run her own knitting shop.” And knitting? Was that your mother too? Jason smiles again.

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“She never taught me. I’m one of four boys, so she never really had the time to teach four boys. We were all born within four years of each other, so…” Jason laughs.

Jason and woolJason and wool
Jason and wool

“It was a couple of years after I opened my shop that I learnt to knit. I could read knitting patterns before I could knit. I always had people coming into the shop, and they advised me on anything, because they’re the experts.”

“They’ve probably been knitting thirty, forty years. They know better than me how things should be done.”

Again, Jason’s ‘more patience in life’ worldview shows its pattern. And also, the bridge he has made with his customers. They gave him knowledge, which now, he passes on to other customers.

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A voice calls from the market hall: “Are you not knitting one at the moment?”. Jason answers: “I’ve just finished one”. The lady walks in and he shows her a jumper he’s just done. “You’re pretty darn good,” she says. Is this a knitting in-joke?

Jumpers and yarnJumpers and yarn
Jumpers and yarn

The Wool Cabin is floor to ceiling with colour, the walls of yarn making a vibe of cosy, a feeling of soft separation from the noise of the market hall.

“We run a knit and natter club on a Tuesday. That’s in the cafe. If you need some help, there’s people there to be able to help you out. It does get a bit chaotic in my shop, so I can’t always be with the ladies, but…”

Jason laughs again. Another lady walks in. When asked why she comes here, she grins, pointing to Jason. “This person is absolutely amazing. I don’t actually knit. But I come in here because he’s next door to Betty, and he’s friendly and we get on.”

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When asked to describe the vibe in the market hall, Jason pauses.

Jason, needles, and knitting patternsJason, needles, and knitting patterns
Jason, needles, and knitting patterns

“Is it busier than what it was when I first started? Probably not. But the atmosphere is still here. All the fellow traders, we always get on. We have a laugh together. We can’t fall out, because that’d be silly,” says Jason with a grin.

We chat about how the market hall has changed over time, Jason again weaving his knitting zen.

“I don’t begrudge change. It gives the chance to offer a wider variety. Certainly the stallholders here offer a more personalised service. Rather than beep beep beep, you’re done, go. I think a lot of people still like that personalised side.”

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And Chesterfield? “Still plenty of things to do in Chesterfield. You can’t have everything all at once. It takes time to build things. And as we’ve seen, Chesterfield goes through phases where they have to start building things.”

Jason smiles. “Sometimes people forget how long it takes to create these things.”

And if Jason could change his knitting needle to a magic wand, what pattern would he change?

“Probably reduce the VAT rate,” he says laughing. Jason pauses. “I just wish that people would be more tolerant of each other. I think we’ve become a nation of sensationalisation. You can’t always agree with what other people do. Fact of life.”

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“There is no one size fits all. If people were a bit more nicer to each other, and not just having a go at each other, then people wouldn’t be as anxious as they are.”

The market hall clock chimes. Does this shop of wool and wisdom have any future plans? Jason smiles, his answer fitting the pattern of all things said. “Just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m quite happy where I am.”