2017 Year End Report

For America’s Knitting — it’s all about the yarn shops!  We track yarn shops throughout the year.  Shops open, shops close and shops relocate.

Shops open — small business, entrepreneurialism, being your own boss, doing it ‘your’ way!  You have an idea, a dream, and give it a go.  You know what you like, you know what you want, and you have a vision.  You can see it all in your minds eye.  You look for that perfect location…this can take a while; the price has to be right.  You need parking, wheelchair access, good lighting, a place for classes, and room to grow.  You hope this perfect location isn’t going to need too much work $.  You need a fun catchy name, and then comes the not so fun part of setting yourself up with a business license, so you can pay taxes.  You need help, no mans an island.  What will your hours be?  Exactly how will all this impact my life and family?  A lot goes into this idea – a yarn shop!

Shops close — Some stores are at it a long time, and they simply retire out of the business!  Some stores have NO idea what it would take, if they did it right, or if they would make any money.  Some stores have circumstances beyond their control and have no other choice but to close.  It certainly isn’t easy — and by the time you have paid all of your overhead expenses,  and the taxes, pay for the yarn and notions and such, and pay the employees – is there anything left?  Can you make ends meet?  Maybe you’ve hung in there and tried every creative idea in the book, and you just have to take control and close.  Some shops are not cut out for dealing with the public – the public can be a darn tough crowd!

Shops relocate — When businesses open, sometimes, you have to take what you can get.  But it’s not ideal – or possibly the price is right, but not much else.  You give it a go and things are percolating, and something opens up with free parking, or a bigger spot with class space, or something with better natural light.  So you pack it all up, sign and all, and move.  What a lot of work, but it’s all for the best.  Sometimes you bit off more than you can chew and you actually need to downsize and save money if you’re going to stay in business.  Sometimes, the perfect spot opens up and you really needed to clean house anyway.  Regardless, having your own business is lots of work whether you are in the same spot for 20 years or you moved after 5 or closed after 8.

There’s also so much to learn along the way.  What to carry, how many colors of the 178 colors should I stock, all the various weights of yarn, and brands.  What classes to offer and how much to charge.  The layout of your store, and how many sales you will have throughout the year.  When to switch gears, dump some brands, and pick up new brands. How exactly to inspire your customer base.  How will I get enough samples to have in the store?  Can I run the store and clean it and manage social media??

These courageous folks have stepped out and created a spot, a community for all of us to participate in and be apart of.  Support your local yarn shop and don’t be afraid to step up and help out.  Maybe you could organize their Ravelry group for them…maybe you could manage their facebook page for them…maybe you could take some photos for them or help them out with a shop sample.  They have a lot on their plate and are stretched thin.  Lots of times they make it look easy, you might even think they are genius, but they are just people like you and me.

 

Now for the numbers — as of January 1, 2017 — 1,034 yarn shops

As of January 1, 2018 — 970 yarn shops

This is a loss of 64 yarn shops across 50 states in a one year period of time.  The photos you see in this article are of shops I’ve been to that are in business.  Please check out our map, and if your local yarn shop is not listed, please let us know, and support your local yarn shop!

It’s A Country Christmas

In a dream, you may wander into a small cozy yarn shop, with a roaring fire, a cute dog all curled up on a loveseat (wearing pearls) surrounded by wonderfully soft colorful yarn.  You would be walking through the store slowly, as you touched merino, yak, mohair, silk and cashmere.  The light is warm, and in the back corner are lovely women knitting and visiting, and there’s a friendly woman who smiles and says ‘welcome!

Only it’s not a dream, it’s The Artful Ewe, in Port Gamble, Washington!  Every early December, Port Gamble has their Country Christmas.  What is Country Christmas?  Imagine, hay rides, hot chocolate, Santa, a town filled with lights, shops open, and when it gets dark, fireworks!  The Artful Ewe is my local yarn shop (LYS), so it’s easy for me to run over and capture this for you, and it’s my pleasure, Happy Holidays!

But first, you have to get to know Heidi Dascher and her business The Artful Ewe!  Heidi & I have something in common, her store opened in May of 2007, and America’s Knitting went live in August of 2007.  Heidi and I are probably very close in age as well, I would guess, so of course we had a life before her store, and my website.

Heidi’s Grandmother Gunda taught Heidi to knit when she was 7 years old.  Grandma Gunda was right handed and Heidi is left handed.  It wasn’t easy, as you can image, but Grandma was very patient, and Heidi learned to knit the right handed way.  Heidi laughs about it now!  Heidi was self-taught and, of course, by Grandma Gunda, no formal knitting, like classes and such, so she didn’t know any different.  Fast forward many years to 2005 and a meeting at the Kitsap County Knitters Guild (where other left handed knitters are), and the subject comes up.  Heidi says I’m left handed, and as ladies watch her knit, mention, you knit right handed.  Funny the things you learn along the way in life.

In my first paragraph, I mentioned the dog curled up on the loveseat wearing pearls.  That too is a real thing.  That would be Grace!  Heidi has a number of animals in her life but Grace & Semillon are Whippets, and they go to work with Heidi.  Now, mentioning work, I have to disclose that The Artful Ewe is only open to the public on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  This is because Heidi is busy Monday through Thursday dying yarn back at the homestead.  Yep, Heidi’s store is filled with exotic yarn that she hand dyed herself.  You won’t find any brand names like Cascade, or Plymouth, or Kraemer Yarns, or even Swan Island, or any other brands for that matter.  You will only see the yarns that Heidi dyes herself.  This is what I would call a specialty store, for exotic yarn.  I would say that her prices are extremely competitive and the yarn is very high quality.  You truly, just have to see it and experience it for yourself.

Heidi’s dying history starts back in 2004.  She started this endeavor mainly just for her own personal knitting wants.  Her friends wanted her hand dyed yarn too!  Then she branched out to venues like Arts in Action over at the fairgrounds, and then more venues.  The local knitters guild joined up with the local quilting guild, they started doing once-a-month demonstrations at the Walker-Ames house in Port Gamble.  When that fizzled out, the town property manager offered to let Heidi use the vacant fire hall on the weekends, demonstrating fiber arts processes like spinning, weaving, knitting and felting.  She and her friend Linda Jacobs set up and opened the doors on Mother’s Day weekend 2007, and people showed up!  Six months went by, and then Heidi signed a lease and moved into the smaller space that she occupies today.

Today, Heidi is living at the family homestead dating all the way back to Grandma Gunda, dying yarn all week for her store, being an entrepreneur, and in charge of her own destiny.  She says “The Artful Ewe is my happy place”, and she means it.  So she’s got her homestead dogs that stay home and protect the home front, and her shop dogs (Whippets Grace & Semmy) that are her companions on the job.  Heidi loves to keep the shop fresh with new colors all the time, so if you are shopping and see something that you like, I suggest you buy it because you may not see for a while.  Heidi teaches knitting and spinning for free on the days that she is open.  When Heidi speaks of teaching others she uses words like ‘joy’ and ‘magic’  What perfect words to use at Christmas time.

The Artful Ewe gives financially to the Country Christmas fireworks display, and is truly part of the Port Gamble community and she also part of the fiber arts community at large.

Please click on any photo to see it larger form, and wander into The Artful Ewe on your journey to our little part of the world.  Happy Holidays to one and all, from The Artful Ewe and America’s Knitting!!

These are a few of my favorite things……

Some time back, I purchased Shannon Cooks Bradway pattern, and proceeded to purchase the yarn for the project at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook traveled from Victoria, BC Canada down to Bainbridge Island, in Washington state, USA!  They were signing books and patterns and hanging out at the store.  I went to the event mainly to get a booked signed for Carmel, as she just loves Jane Richmond.  Well, both gals were delightful.  I went with a couple of friends, and we were having a great time — we were at the yarn shop, looking at yarn, talking, laughing, checking everything out.  Up comes Shannon Cook and she introduces herself to us.  She was so friendly, it was as if we already knew her.  Well, I bought her pattern (Bradway) too.

I really am not a shawl person.  But, I bought a book, the pattern, and some other stuff, and we had a great time.  Shortly thereafter, the Bradway just exploded.  Everyone was making it, and there was a knit-along at the Churchmouse.  Well, I thought about it and looked at all the colors in Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, and came up with three colors that I liked.

It was a really fun knit.  I love the way Shannon Cook writes patterns.  She tells you exactly what she wants you to do, right down to the way she wants you to bind it off.  She is not a lazy designer.  It wasn’t difficult or hard, it wasn’t tiny yarn that took forever, it was worsted (but not heavy).  It clipped right along, growing all the time.  It was ever changing and not boring.  She even told you how to block it out.

So many things are left to the knitter with some patterns.  Some of the projects look great, some don’t.  If you follow Shannon’s directions, there is no reason why your shawl shouldn’t look great too!

So, my favorite things:

  • Worsted – so it clips along, but Shelter….so it’s not heavy or bulky
  • Three colors and varied stitches, so it’s not boring
  • How to cast on, how to knit all the stitches, how to bind off, and how to block
  • Photos so you can see just how to wear it, many different ways
  • A friendly responsive designer that feels like your new best friend
  • A great new shawl to add to the wardrobe (or a damn impressive gift)

I follow Churchmouse Yarns & Teas and Shannon Cook on Instagram!

Wear On Earth

Well, hello again!  We here at America’s Knitting like to celebrate the brick and mortar business of the local yarn shop!  As most of you may already know, America’s Knitting is celebrating 10 years this year.  Ten years of helping knitters find local yarn shops wherever they may be in the United States.  Are they traveling for business, pleasure, family obligation or possibly relocating?  We pride ourselves on having not only a complete listing of shops, but an accurate listing of shops.  We routinely check in on shops just to make sure they are still owned by the same people and in the same place.  We also have peeps out there informing us of updates all the time.

America’s Knitting also has a Facebook page, we are on Instagram, and yes, we even have a Ravelry group.  Our Ravelry group is moderated by Diana Cripe.  Diana recently took a trip to Lynden, Washington.  YES, there is a yarn shop in Lynden, Washington; it’s called Wear On Earth!  Here is what Diana had to say about the business, and here are her photos…

Wear On Earth has the cutest little classroom setting for classes, and does a lot of great things, like a group that knits scarves for veterans.  The business has a website that has a lot of information about this.  It is a great place because it is also a clothing consignment shop and the motto of the shop is: Save on Clothes, Splurge on Yarn!

The owners name is Elva Fisel and she was very nice and informative.  She even yarn bombed the pillar in the front of the store, outside.

Thank you Diana for thinking of America’s Knitting while you were in Lynden, Washington!

If you have a yarn shop in your town, we’d love to know more about it, and see some pictures of the store.  Please feel free to take a few snaps, write a few lines and email them over to me.  I will post a short story right here.  Stay tuned for our new website coming in 2018!

** remember, you can always click on any of these photos taken by Diana Cripe to see their larger forms **

Paradise Fibers

One of my very favorite things to do, is go to a yarn shop.  That’s why I started America’s Knitting.  I wanted all the yarn shops to be in one place, where the database of shops could be updated in real time, be correct and complete.  I wanted knitters to know who the yarn shops are, and where they are located.  I can always remember traveling (before cell phones) and being in a hotel room, and turning to the back of the local phone book yellow pages, so I could look under ‘yarn’ for a local yarn shop.  I always remember being so excited if I found one, and of course, we had to make time to track it down.  It was challenging, in an unfamiliar town with possibly, just a map.  I love GPS.

So, I finally got to visit Paradise Fibers in Spokane, Washington.  I had heard of Paradise Fibers (who am I kidding, I hear of all the yarn shops), but hadn’t made it by yet.  Actually, I have property in Spokane and this was the reason for our trip east.  It was my husbands birthday that actually fell on the weekend, so we took a drive across the mountains, looked in on the property, visited Paradise Fibers and went out for a really nice dinner and stayed over in a hotel.  All of it was delightful, and all was good with the property!

I’m not all that familiar with Spokane…my husband more so than me, but even he didn’t know where it was.  So, I pulled out my phone and went onto America’s Knitting and looked it up.  All shops are connected to Google Maps, so away we went and we were there in 15 minutes.  When we “arrived at our destination”, we see this sizable brick building, that looked OLD!  I didn’t really know what to expect; but my husband took the dog on a stroll around the neighborhood, and I went inside.

Old hardwood floors, and brick walls everywhere.  It was an old building for sure, but it didn’t smell old, and a lovely young lady greeted me.  I introduced myself and asked it I could snoop around and take some pictures.  She said that would be fine.  She was working, and helping some customers, and then she joined me, and gave me a tour.  I told her how surprised I was by the size of the building and the range of inventory that they had.  It was then, that she told me of their online presence.  Then it all made more sense.  They do occasionally have a knit night or a class, and they are thinking of expanding on those ideas.  They also had a few specialty dyes from Ancient Arts, out of Canada, created just for them.  That excited me because I had heard of Ancient Arts, but had never knit with it, so I did purchase a skein of sock yarn as a treat.  I wanted both, but it was expensive yarn, and I’ll have an opportunity next time to pick up the other one.

I saw lots of yarn that I would have loved to purchase.  It’s really too bad that my stash is so extensive.  You really do feel like a kid in a candy store.  Makes me wish I were one of those fast knitters!  Thank you Hannah for showing me around and being so nice to me, and letting me take pictures.  It was fun!!

** remember you can always click on any of these photos to see their larger form **

Fall Is Cape Weather

My dearest friend Lynn, is an accomplished knitter!  She moved away some years back, but thank goodness for texting, cell phones and pictures…so we can keep in touch.  Here is her latest knit.

Meet Indigo Frost by Isabell Kraemer.  Lynn is always cold.  She’s the gal with the fleece lined jeans, fleece sheets on her bed, and a new coat every for every season.  It makes perfect sense that she would knit this cape a little longer for added warmth.  Lynn used a bulk worsted alpaca that she had purchased at a fiber market some years back.

Great job Lynn!  Enjoy fall in Missouri, and I’ll see you in December in Seattle!!

Knit City 2017

Where can you go, where you run into The Grocery Girls around every corner, see The Yarn Harlot going out for a run, or see Stephen West crossing the street? Where could you go to have breakfast with Andrea Rangel?  Where would you have the opportunity to talk with Shannon Cook or Jane Richmond, or take a class from Felicia Lo, or have the opportunity to meet and talk with Julie Asselin?  Well, you have to go to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and attend Knit City.

I had heard of this event before, but I had never attended.  This year, a good friend of mine sent me a text as suggested we go.  She booked the hotel, and it’s a good thing, because it quickly sold out.

The vendor lineup for the marketplace was beyond imaginable.  The class list was impressive, the hotel was so close with the event not even a block away, and a Starbucks a block away in the other direction.  Complimentary breakfast in the hotel with a bar right next door.  The event even invited food trucks parked right out from with a great selection of food for our convenience.

As we stood outside in line to get into the market place on Saturday morning, bright and early, everywhere you look, are knitters wearing their hand knitted wears.  Everybody in a great moods and happy to meet you.  My friend and I are from the Kitsap Peninsula, located in western Washington, but we met people from Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, tons on Canadians, and there was even a lady from Iceland.  Those are just some that I met.  It was a well attended event.

Whenever you walked into the hotel, there were knitters knitting in a sitting room off the lobby.  There were knitters in the elevator, and in the bar next door.  We totally took over the place.  I didn’t take a class, but my friend did.  I’m so busy working, running America’s Knitting and babysitting my grandson, that I just wanted time to hang out and knit, and shop.  That is exactly what I did.  I knit a fingerless mitt while I was there, and I bought yarn that I don’t have access to in my neck of the woods.

 

I’m so glad that my friend suggest we go.  We had a blast hanging out, laughing, knitting, going to happy hour, eating out, knitting in our room at night while watching podcasts, going out for coffee, and shopping for yarn and taking pictures.  I really needed a vacation.  Thanks Vancouver, it was SO fun…I hope to be back next year~

**  please click on any photo to see it larger form **

*Happy Anniversary to CHURCHMOUSE YARNS & TEAS*

Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, located on beautiful Bainbridge Island, in the state of Washington, is celebrating 17 years in business!  The store started out as an up-scale yarn shop, and they have grown to a destination yarn shop visited by knitters and designers from around the world.  In addition to their lovely store, and fabulous selection of yarns, they have a fine line of patterns that are sold in yarn shops far and near.  The store teaches knitting along with lots of other classes.  They have trunk shows, events and retreats, and hold a sizable on-line presence.

Their style is classic, and tasteful simplicity!  Their patterns are timeless and ageless (except for their wee ones line).  Their staff is sweet and knowledgeable, and their brand…..inspiring!

Living in western Washington myself, I have access to lots of fine yarn shops…all different.  Fortunately, for me, getting to Churchmouse Yarns & Teas is an easy 25 minute drive for me.  Those of us frequent patrons have simple names for the business.  Lots of us, simply say Churchmouse, others fondly refer to the store as ‘the Mouse’.  And we further refer to the employees as ‘mice’.

This success, didn’t just happen — the store started with a business plan, works very hard, and hasn’t stagnated – they’ve grown.  Last weekend was their latest pattern launch, and this weekend, they celebrated their anniversary.  Churchmouse has a facebook page, and they also a Ravelry group, and are on all forms of social media.  I encourage you to follow them on their journey, and I hope that you are lucky enough to be able to visit their lovely store some day soon.  Congratulations to Kit & John, and all the mice, on your anniversary.

Here’s to 17 more years!!

Hurricane Harvey – Labor Day Weekend – Back To School

There’s so much going on! As I watch the aftermath of Harvey, and see hospitals evacuating because they don’t have any potable water, and wells breaking down, and families being held up in make shift shelters in convention centers.  My head swirls with the good fortune at every turn; the grocery chain HEB sending convoys of trucks with food to serve everyone, Anheuser-Busch pausing their beer production to send bottled water to Harvey victims, and neighbors helping neighbors to evacuate even the pets.

The same holds true within our own knitting community.  There are three yarn shops in Houston, with two more within a 24-mile radiance, not to mention the yarn shops affected in Louisiana!  I’ve seen a couple of fine offers coming from the knitting community to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  Here is a letter from Lauren & Trey of Lolo Did It I’m sorry this offer ran out….I’ve been experiencing computer and internet issues and couldn’t get this out any sooner – I AM SO SORRY!  Please follow Lolo Did It on Instagram, to get to know her lovely products.

Huge Thank You To Everyone

I realized this evening that I have quite a few people who do not follow me on social media, so I wanted to make sure to tell you everything that’s been going on over here.

Sunday night Trey and I decided we wanted to do something that had more of an impact on the relief effort than we could do all by ourselves. So we are dyeing a surprise colorway and all proceeds are going to the American Red Cross for the Hurricane Harvey relief effort in Texas and Louisiana. We have had an amazing response from our beautiful fiber arts community and I’m so proud and thankful to be a part of it!

Click “Shop Specials” for the Hurricane Harvey colorway, there is a link in the listing if you would like to donate directly to the Red Cross instead of purchasing a colorway. There are tons of local charities and relief projects to donate to directly as well. The sale of this colorway will end on Thursday 8/31 at 10pm PST. I have left the quantities unlimited except for 2 yarn bases, which I have completely run out of and can’t get re-supplied in time. Everything will be shipped by 9/18 – wish us luck dyeing it all for you next week! We are so ready and excited to take on the challenge for a good cause!

There are other amazing makers in this community who are also giving their time, donating proceeds, and making items for those in needs. Every little bit counts! Money isn’t everything, as always: a smile, a word, a gesture, a post, or a small gift will help someone whose life has been torn apart by this tragedy. I have had people tell me they will be knitting Roxie the Hippo and other stuffed toys for kids, which is just crazy generous! So don’t think you can’t make an impact if you can’t give money, make a donation, or make a purchase. All of our hands can make a difference!

Thank you all again!

Love, Lauren and Trey

Also, another offer in from WEBSOur hearts are with all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Through 9/4/17, WEBS will donate 5% of sales to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief (up to $20,000). 

This is from their facebook page, and there is also a note on their website.  Speaking of facebook, they are also matching funds donated through their site to the Red Cross I believe.

Please consider helping out, and don’t worry, helping will be going on for quite some time.  The problem in Texas will take a long time to recover from.

While, we have our own problems, like computer and internet issues, and things coming up in our lives, with kids going back to school, and as we enjoy the long holiday weekend of Labor Day, please remember our friends in Texas & Louisiana. They will be needing lots of help to get back onto their feet for quite some time to come.  Texas, and Louisiana, you are in our hearts!

Town Square Fabric & Yarn

I’ve been on a ‘StayCation’ of sorts all this week.  My husband and I are both self employed and work together.  Wes was off on a kayaking trip up in the Broken Islands, so I took the week off, to just enjoy being at home with our dog.  Well, this is why people go away, because while you are at home, you really aren’t on vacation.  With that, Monday, I had to go pick up material for one of our jobs (bathroom remodel).  So, I thought….darn it, I’m going to check out a yarn shop I have never been to before.

Town Square Fabric & Yarn, is located in Burien, Washington!  I know people, who have visited this shop before, and now I have visited this shop.  It’s a quaint shop, located in a sweet part of town with lots of small businesses around, and parking on the street.  You’ll notice, in their name that ‘Fabric’ has top billing, when in fact, the store is probably 80% yarn.  The owner, Cindy, was in, and we had the opportunity to visit, and I had the opportunity to wander about and take some pitcures.

Like most yarn shops, lots of samples and displays, but what drew my attention was her stock of Lopi yarn, and patterns.  I’ve been looking for this, and you don’t always see that brand in my area.  Other notable brands I saw; Heritage Yarns, Kauni, Alegria, Cascade Yarns, Queensland, Imperial and Raven Frog Fibers.  The store has a nice table too,  where you can sit and go through patterns, and put a project together or attend a class.

The store was preparing for a class on shadow knitting with Bobbi Daniels out of Alaska.  See the ’12’ scarf to the right?  That is shadow knitting, and this scarf doesn’t just have the number 12 on it, it’s a Seattle Seahawk scarf. The number 12 signifies the 12th man on the field, the fan!  Did I just geek out that much??  Back to yarn…. I did purchase a Lopi pattern book and some Lopi yarn for a sweater.    It was fun to sit at Cindy’s table and browse through the Lopi patterns and look at Lopi colors.  It’s a highly recommended practice while on vacation or staycation.

In closing, Cindy told me that she is considering phasing out the fabric to make room for MORE yarn.  Yarn is where it’s at, so I guess knitting is alive and well in Burien!  Town Square Fabric & Yarn is on facebook, and as with all of our photos, please click on any of them to see their larger forms.

If you are traveling for work or pleasure, please use our website to locate a yarn shop near you.  All of the shops are connected to Google Maps, so you can have direction to any shop.  Our website is mobile friendly, so you can use our website in your car and on all of your devices.  You can visit a shops website from our listings, and you can also call the store from our website.

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Also, if you would like to see a spotlight of your LYS, please contact me!  We would love to shine a light on their business.  Happy travels and happy knitting~