Long Thread Podcast Spotlight Episode: Yarn Barn of Kansas

At conferences, in your mailbox, or in their small-town storefront, Susan and Jim Bateman operate your local yarn store for weaving, spinning, knitting, and crochet.

Anne Merrow Mar 16, 2024 - 5 min read

Long Thread Podcast Spotlight Episode: Yarn Barn of Kansas Primary Image

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When Susan Bateman first opened Yarn Barn of Kansas in 1971, a woman starting a small business couldn’t get a credit card in her own name. Weavers like her had a hard time finding yarns, tools, and other supplies, some of which were only available from overseas, and she thought there must be an opportunity to bring fiber artists more of what they needed.

Susan and her husband, Jim, have spent decades building the kind of store she wanted to see when she was learning to weave and hoping to grow her fiber skills: one with a wide selection of yarns, a lively education program, and lots and lots of books. Yarn Barn of Kansas occupies thousands of square feet with a storefront, classroom, and a massive warehouse stacked with boxes of yarn. (Jim says that he can easily prove that they have ten tons of inventory, and the stock room has a directory to help staff find just the right box.)

Man and woman in handknitted hats Susan and Jim Bateman wearing handknitted hats in front of their downtown storefront. Photos courtesy of Yarn Barn of Kansas

Although the shop has Kansas right in the name, many of the store’s customers never set foot in the Lawrence, Kansas storefront. Susan and Jim make regular trips to fiber arts conferences from coast to coast, some years as many as one per month, always with that extensive (and heavy) selection of books that are difficult to find elsewhere. But many customers will never meet them or their staff in person anywhere. Beginning with printed catalogs and continuing with their website, Yarn Barn of Kansas meets many fiber artists where they are—literally, shipping to nearly all of the 50 United States every month.

That doesn’t mean they’re strangers, though. Customers across the country call the shop for advice, troubleshooting, and some quick how-to in addition to placing orders. The shop has a full roster of classes in a variety of crafts, but much of the teaching that the staff does every day is unscheduled help by phone or in person. Between answering customers’ questions and taking orders, Susan and other staff design projects and create samples to help customers use the yarns and techniques on offer.

Woman in 1980s attire sitting at loom outside, smiling Beginning with her love of weaving, Susan Bateman has made a business spreading the joy, knowledge, and enthusiasm for a variety of fiber arts.

Although they have offered classes and supplies for crafts from basketry to needlepoint to lacemaking in the past, Yarn Barn of Kansas currently focuses on weaving, spinning, knitting, and crochet. The store may be best known nationally as a weaving supplier, but closer to home, most of their local customers come for knitting. Susan and Jim had that range of customers in mind when thinking of their newest venture, a 100% organic cotton yarn from fiber sourced in Texas and spun and dyed in North Carolina. The unmercerized 4/2 yarn in 45 colors is a versatile size for crochet, rigid-heddle and multishaft weaving, and knitting. They’ve called the yarn Ad Astra, in recognition of Kansas’s state motto.

Whether you find the Yarn Barn of Kansas on the road, online, or actually in Kansas, enjoy this peek behind the scenes.

Yarn Barn of Kansas website
Discover Ad Astra, the new organic cotton yarn
Read about Classes
Subscribe to the Newsletter
Find Yarn Barn of Kansas on Facebook
Read Susan Bateman and Melissa Parson’s series on weaving best practices for beginners and beyond at Handwoven

This episode is brought to you by:

Yarn Barn of Kansas logo

Yarn Barn of Kansas has been your partner in fiber since 1971. Whether you are around the corner from the Yarn Barn of Kansas, or around the country, they are truly your “local yarn store,” with an experienced staff to answer all your fiber questions. Visit yarnbarn-ks.com to shop, learn, and explore.