Fidalgo Artisan Yarn

Back in April, my husband and I went to Orcas Island to visit my Step-Mom for the weekend!  As the name suggests, it’s an island, so you have to take a ferry boat to get there.  The ferry departs from a town called Anacortes!  As it happens, Anacortes has a yarn shop.  The name of the store is Fidalgo Artisan Yarn.

This store is so unique!!!!!  When I arrived Emily was working.  She was busy winding yarn for a customer, but was so welcoming and happy.  Who could not be happy working in a store full of yarn, fiber and clothes.  Yes, clothes….we’ll talk about that in a bit.

The store is easy to find, it’s right downtown.  We parked on the street, and there are all sorts of fun shops all around, and restaurants too.  This store is “FULL” of hand dyed yarn by owner Lori.  The only brand names you will see in this store is needles and notions and patterns.  Everything in this store is crafted by hand, right down to the Spectator Hats – we’ll get there in a moment.

There is so much to take in, you just can’t be in a hurry!  There is alpaca, silk, wool, bamboo, mohair, even camel.  All weights will be found at Fidalgo Artisan Yarn.  The colors are so beautiful, from clean brights, to neutrals, to soft colors.  Owner Lori came in while I was there, so I was able to meet her.  She is pictured below in the turquoise shirt.  She truly has a gift for color and dying yarn.

There are hand crafted wood bowls for yarn that are crafted locally, hand made jewelry, artisan clothing hand made and those fun spectator hats.  I also found fiber for all the spinners out there and some patterns by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Fidalgo Artisan Yarn is on Instagram, so follow along, and remember they ship!

I had made up my mind prior to walking in that I needed a pair of sock blockers.  I did get my sock blockers, and also some yarn for a shawl.  if you are headed up to the San Juan Islands, get up there early, so you can get into Fidalgo Artisan Yarn and tell them Mary from America’s Knitting sent you in!

*you can click on any photo to see it’s larger form

Fiber Arts Fine Yarns

When I started America’s Knitting, I wanted all the nations yarn shops all in one place online for everyone’s convenience.  How boring, it wasn’t enough.  I wanted to know all the yarn shops and talk about all the yarn shops.  So I started doing spotlights on yarn shops every chance I got.

Of course I started local…ones I could get out to for a visit – take some pictures!  Well, I live in Washington – NOW WHAT?  Well, I went down to Oregon and visited some shops in Portland and did spotlights, and my girlfriend Dawn took a trip back home to Connecticut, and shared a visit to a yarn shop for me.  Then I started getting contacted by yarn shops themselves and did a few yarn shops…Maine, California, Montana.  Then some of my readers started traveling and sending me photos and a few lines and I posted those spotlights…Arizona, Alaska!

Well my girlfriend Libbie just relocated to Florida for her husbands work.  She visited a yarn shop called Fiber Arts Fine Yarns in Odessa!  I asked her if she could take some pictures for me…and she did.  Here is what she had to say about the store:

The owner was there and was super friendly. They were  showcasing customers finished projects. Good parking. A little coffee shop cafe in the same strip mall as well as a brew pub next door. (Darin appreciates that!). He was able to taste a few local brews and grab a growler while I bought some locally dyed yarn.  That all being said, I haven’t been back. But, I haven’t really been knitting. In a rut.

Libbie needs to meet some knitters and join a knitting group!  I always say, you’ll meet your best friend at the yarn shop.  All that being said, Libbie & Darin are still getting settled in and are building a house.  Libbie needs her knitting mojo back!!  Thank you Libbie for taking the pictures and getting them to me.  I hope you get back to knitting SOON~

Oregon Knitting Co.

At America’s Knitting, we love to spotlight yarn shops across the nation.  We are based out of the pacific northwest, so of course we are better able to show more west coast yarn shops.  I get photos and stories from knitters, and I also do spotlights myself when I’m out and about.  This story and these photos come from our moderator over in our Ravelry group, Diana Cripe.

Diana, lives in Washington, but was traveling to a retreat in Oregon for the weekend.  Doesn’t that sound like heaven….a retreat?  I would love a weekend where I could just hang out and knit; no phones, no cooking or gardening, no work, just knitting.  Sounds relaxing!  Anyway…here is what Diana had to say:

On my way to a retreat on the Oregon coast, my friend Amy and I stopped at the Oregon Knitting Company in McMinnville, Oregon on the way.  This was the day before LYS Day.  This cute shop was located inside a little indoor mall type building.  The shop is not very big, but has a lot of yarns to offer.  The woman working there, sorry I did not get her name, was very nice, and funny and helpful.  When I found the wall of Findley, I was mesmerized.  I found so many colors I could not decide and was not sure what I would do with it.  I got a photo of one woman working at the table, don’t worry I always ask for permission and tell people what it is for before taking a photo.  After the retreat, and deciding what I would make with that yarn, we stopped again on our way home.  Before leaving the retreat my friend Amy was told by another friend to NOT let me buy purple!  I got this gorgeous teal, and plan to make Jared Flood’s Rock Island Shawl one day. 

The shop was beautiful and if  money was no object, I would have bought a lot more!

Just a little inside baseball, Diana loves purple and has lots of purple yarn in her stash.  I say “you can never have enough purple yarn….or teal”!!  Thank you Diana for checking out this yarn shop and taking these photos.  I can’t wait to visit some day myself.

If you want to see your LYS here in a spotlight…take some photos and send them to me.  I would love to see a spotlight from Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota, Maine – work with me people!!

The Nifty Knitter

In January, I visited The Nifty Knitter.  The Nifty Knitter is located in the state of Washington, in a small town called Issaquah.  This store is set into the quaint Gilman Village.  Although the whole village is quaint, so is The Nifty Knitter.

The layout of the store is small, yet full of yarn, notions, bags, and inspiration.  There is a table in the back where they hold classes, but it’s also available for fixing mistakes, choosing yarns and colors, or just plain old knitting.  This store took me by surprise with it’s resident piano — that is something that you don’t see every day.  The gal that was working there told me that the owner is a musician, and he is the one that plays the piano.  How fun is that?

The store is very current with all their yarns, with notables such as Anzula, Baa Ram Ewe, Dream In Color, Erika Knight, Rowan, Shibui, and Wollmeise to name a few.

When I was there, there was a gal getting help in the back at the table.  That is always nice to see.  You can’t get that personal attention at a fiber fair, or some of these large venues.  Taking a class at a large venue also costs a great deal of money.  It’s nice to get help in real time when you need it on the project that you are currently working on.  I think you remember things better that way when it’s practically applied in person with a real human being in the environment where all the tools are available for purchase if need be.

The next time you are in Issaquah, please stop into The Nifty Knitter and shop.  I know they will have just what you are looking for~

Yarn Bar

Kathie Malcher, a regular contributor for America’s Knitting, roving report if you will…..covered this store on her travels through Montana!  I can never thank Kathie enough for all she does for us.  I’m still working full time, and don’t travel as much as I would like to, and frankly, not everyone is comfortable asking and taking pictures, and the time it takes to email them all over to me, so I am able to spotlight local yarn shops, so THANK YOU KATHIE!!  I think that was the longest run-on sentence in history.

Anyway, here is what Kathie had to say about this store — Yarn Bar, Billings, Montana:

Owned by Linda and Sue – in the picture is Linda on the left and Sue on the right – store opened August 1, 2017 – it is a regular drop off point for Knitted Knockers.  They carry Mountain Meadow Wool (which I purchased), it is a Montana yarn and the gal searched hard and long for a mill to mill her yarn.  They also carry Blue Sky Fibers, Cestari, Erika Knight, Kelbourne Woolens, Madtosh, Polka Dot Sheep (MT yarn).  Their shop is small but jam packed with great yarn, but plenty of room to get around and see everything.  They have lots of samples and the lighting is good – they were very nice – warm and welcoming.  Definitely a place to stop in to see if ever in Billings, MT

Ok, there you have it!  I think the store looks very creative and cute!  Like always, if you want to cover a store for America’s Knitting, please email over your digital photos and a brief write up and I will post it right here.  You can click on any photo to see it’s larger form~

Tolt

My friend Jana & I kicked off the new year right, with a visit to Tolt!  Yep, I’m just now getting around to covering this store, and getting my spotlight up.  I’m a busy gal…knitting, designing kitchens, keeping up my house, hiking and watching my grandson!!  ANYWAY — Jana and I really wanted to go and see Shannon Cook aka Very Shannon!  She had just released her Valley of the Moon series, and was to be at Tolt for a launching.  So, of course we had to go; it’s just a ferry boat and car ride away…and, it’s just how we roll!

The weather was dreadful out — January in the pacific northwest can be that way.  Dark, wet, cold and windy BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP US! We arrived and was greeted by Shannon herself.  It wasn’t that busy yet, so we got to have a lovely chat with her.  She showed us her new designs and the yarn that she used (WOOLFOLK) for the projects.  It started getting a bit busy, so we decided to shop.  Then, we were invited to sit and knit a bit.  They had a lovely large wood table in the back with some chairs, and there were other ladies (locals) knitting.  There was room and we did have our knitting with us, so we decided we would.  Smiles all around.  The store is so friendly, we felt like locals ourselves.  It was a Saturday morning, and it was so fun to see what the other ladies were knitting.

Behind us, was another knitting spot…some comfy chairs by a wood stove.  There were other gals gathered ’round, chatting and knitting.  It was very cool and relaxed feeling.  Nobody was in a hurry at all (Tolt is in the country), there were young moms with their babies, women with their husbands, locals, and then us that came through from a distance, and then Shannon from Canada.

While we were sitting there, knitting and visiting, we took some pictures, and thought of other things we wanted to buy, that we had forgotten about, with VeryShannon on the brain.  After some time, we used the restroom, and got in line to make our purchases.  We then took off to brave the weather and head back home.

You know, I know people who never venture very far from home, but heading out to Carnation for the day, sort of felt like a mini vaca, even if it was just for a day in January~

*If you ever think to take some snaps of yarn shops on your travels, please share by emailing me and remember you can see these pictures in their larger form, by clicking on them*

 

 

 

Knit This Purl That

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.

Kathie (frogsalot) and I met up in February while she was Nana Bonding (can’t say baby sitting when he’s 16 years old) with her grandson while his parents (her daughter and SIL) where on a cruise. Kathie is from Issaquah, WA and I’m from San Jose, CA and we met in Pleasanton CA for coffee and a chat. 
After a couple of hours of chitchat we made our way to Knit This, Purl That, a local yarn shop. Kathie had been there earlier in the week for daytime social knitting and she might have mentioned they were having a sale!! After we arrived I remembered I’d been there but it was at least 10 years ago. We met up with the owner, Sandy, who has been the owner the past 7 years. The shop has been in existence for 20 years and she is the 3rd owner. I thought it was interesting that she came to the shop originally as a customer wanting to learn to knit. She said she took every class they offered for 5 years!! She said her goal this year is to become more involved in the community. She has already done several events the past few months including an arts and crafts show at beautiful Alden Lane Nursery. She plans to have events in her shop, at Inklings Coffee and Tea and at the Chamber of Commerce in town.
She carries a nice variety of yarns; Shibui, Madeline Tosh, Plymouth Alpaca, Cascade, Mrs Crosby and many more. She has two yarn clubs with exclusive patterns and yarns from two companies. She was busy packing up to take her shop to go to Stitches West in Santa Clara next week but stopped long enough to show us some of the kits she had made up. The picture of the blanket she’s holding in one that will be available at Stitches. 
I would say that if you have the opportunity to meet up with a fellow Raveler and if there is a LYS nearby, spend a few hours together and have fun!!
The ladies mentioned that the store was compact, but so well organized and comfortable.  They loved how there was even a table and chairs outside to knit at.  Thank you so much Yvonne & Kathie!  I really appreciate the time it took to put all of this together for America’s Knitting!  Love you guys, and I’m so glad that you are apart of America’s Knitting.

Apple Yarns

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**

Diana Cripe~

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!!