Jennifer Emslie at Uptown Yarns on 5th Street is celebrating 20 years in business on Saturday. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Uptown Yarns marks 20 years in business in downtown Courtenay

Owner Jennifer Emslie says crafts like knitting are making a comeback

Jennifer Emslie wasn’t sure what to expect when she opened her doors at Uptown Yarns in downtown Courtenay.

Now, she’s celebrating a major milestone at the business, having been at the store for 20 years.

“I started when I was 20…. same location, same spot,” she says. “The impetus was a love of knitting and textiles.”

She wanted to help make sure there was a better cross-section of products available for people interested in knitting and crocheting. Teaching the ins and outs of knitting was also a major part of what Emslie has done at Uptown, whether it’s one-on-one sessions or group classes.

“We’ve always done lessons,” she says.

Now, with 20 years in business under her belt, she will be inviting people by for a bit of a party at the store this Saturday.

Emslie is pleased to see crafts are back in style as many people are looking for activities where they can feel connected to something they produce by hand.

“They’ve been making a comeback lately,” she says. “It seems like everyone is wanting to knit.”

There are other, unexpected benefits to the craft too.

“Knitting’s very therapeutic,” she says.

RELATED STORY: Come downtown and knit in public

Still, the business has changed a little, not so much the craft itself, but there are now more sources of information and forums online as well as videos to help people find out more.

Back when she opened, she didn’t necessarily have set expectations about the future of the business.

“I don’t think I thought that far ahead, but I could certainly envision it working,” she says.

Her anniversary event takes place at Uptown Yarns on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be prizes available, and she encourages people to drop by to have a piece of cake and say hello. The store is located at #206-307 5th Street in Courtenay. For more information, call 250-338-1940, email or see

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