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!!