I just love how things go sometimes. The knitting community is so accepting, fearless, and sociable. As many of you may know, in addition to this great website that has all the yarn shops in the country at your fingertips, we also have a facebook page, and a Ravelry group. Two ladies that are members of our Ravelry group, met up in California during the month of February. Anyway, here’s how it went.
Last October, Diana, the gal that heads up our Ravelry group, visited Apple Yarns in Bellingham, Washington! Bellingham has three yarn shops. Sounds like a town/city that gets a lot of knitting done.
Bellingham is also a college town, and the home to Western Washington University! Apple Yarns, however is located in what Diana would call auto row amongst several auto dealerships and similar industry businesses.
When Diana was there for her visit, there were two different ladies working, Claudia Barbo, and Francine Heaton. Francine is the lady on the left and Claudia is the lady on the right in the photo. Claudia designed both scarves that the ladies are wearing. While Diana was there, and visiting with Claudia & Francine, they mentioned that knitters drop of their cars to be serviced, and then pop in and knit a while, and wait there versus waiting and knitting at the dealership. I just wonder how many people have learned to knit at Apple Yarns whilst waiting for their car. I wonder if Apple Yarns does any targeted advertisement over there HAHA!
Diana loved the classes room area very much! Thank you so much Claudia and Francine for spending time with Diana and allowing her to take some pictures. So, whether you are a college student, waiting to get your car fixed, or are mainly a resident of Bellingham, or a visitor, stop into Apple Yarns, and take a class or just hang out and work on your knitting, so you can get on to the business of shopping for that next project!
**You may click on any of these photos to see their larger forms**
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!
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.
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!!
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 **
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 **
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!!
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.
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~
Every year, Stitches is held in various parts of the country. Stitches is a huge knitting event full of classes and a vendor market. We have one here on the west coast, and someday, I will attend. In the mean while, Yvonne, a regular contributor attended this years event, and here is what she has to share with us!
I love yarn shops — HELLO — that’s why I’m America’s Knitting. I’m all about the yarn shop. So, a couple posts back, I visited Loose Ends Fiber Arts. They had asked when I was coming to Centralia, and I finally went. Well that’s like a two and half hour drive for me. My husband kept me company, and we brought our dog Mae. We started off with coffee, made a pit stop, and had lunch after visiting the yarn shop. Wes walked the dog while I was shopping in the yarn shop, and taking pictures.
Well, not even half an hour down the road is a town called Chehalis. There is a yarn shop there too, and it’s called Ewe And I. How could I drive all that way, and not slide into that store?
It has a super fun back story, and unique too! So, There are two businesses really inside the store; Ewe And I ‘yarn shop’, and Black Sheep ‘Creamery’! Meg Gregory with her husband Brad Gregory have a farm, and they have sheep, lots of sheep. So, with the sheep, they get milk and make cheese. They also get wool, and make yarn. It’s a going concern, they’ve won awards and you can find their cheese other places besides the yarn shop! You HAVE to check out their website to really see it all.
The yarn shop is very nice, they carry lots of yarn, and brands you know. Notables that I saw… Rowan, Knitted Wit, Jamiesons, Opal, Brown Sheep and of course their own yarn in the natural shades of the sheep. I did purchase some Knitted Wit, as I have never owned or knit with that yarn and it felt like a special treat. The store is what I would call full service, in that, they sell yarn and knit, but they also spin and weave.
The ladies were very nice and told me all about the store. I encourage you to check out their website and of course, the creamery website too. They are on Facebook as well, so you can keep up even if you can’t make a visit. Thanks for showing me around Meg and allowing me to take some pictures … I’ll be back~ **you can click on any photo to see it’s larger version**