On The Road With Ben

I think that is it fitting my journey ends at the local yarn shop that started my knitting adventures. In August of 2018, I was wandering around historic Port Gamble, WA and I walked into The Artful Ewe for the first time. I was just walking from shop to shop, and I did not know what the shop was when I entered. When I walked in, and realized it was a yarn shop, all I could say was, “Wow!” I was immediately greeted by two dogs and a lady that was winding yarn into a ball.  She greeted me and told me that the owner of the shop is sitting in the cozy corner if I wanted to talk to her. I Found the shop owner, Heidi, and four of her friends sitting and knitting. Introduced myself to her and she asked me if I knit and I said that I crochet. She invited me to sit and talk with them. I talked with them for about 15 minutes and when I got up to leave Heidi told me that if I want to learn how to knit that I can come back and she will teach me. I said, “Okay!” and returned the next week to learn. After coming back for a few weeks I had become part of Heidi’s village.

Ben with Heidi

The Artful Ewe opened in 2007 after Heidi had a successful pop-up shop in Port Gamble. She is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday because during the rest of the week she is at home dyeing yarn and fiber!  Almost all of the yarn and fiber she sells is her own hand dyed. Each week when I walked into her shop there was always something new and fun to see and feel. The cozy corner is usually filled with friends that are sitting and knitting, and maybe a dog or two! Heidi has three Whippets that come to her shop, Grace, Semmy, and Greta. Her shop has a very welcoming environment that makes you want to sit and knit for hours.

 After a few weeks of knitting, Heidi challenged me and helped me start a sweater!  She was so nice and helped me a lot with it! I have spent countless hours sitting in the cozy corner, talking with Heidi and other friends that come to knit. The Artful Ewe is a wonderful community that has changed my life. I have made so many great friends sitting and knitting there.

When I returned last week, Heidi invited people to come to the shop for a welcome back Ben day.  Walking back into her shop felt like I was coming back home. Through The Artful Ewe, I was able to see great friends again and meet some new ones like Mary, the owner of America’s Knitting!  No matter how many yarn shops I go to, The Artful Ewe will always be my favorite. Heidi and her shop are very special to me. The Artful Ewe truly is a destination yarn shop.

Blazing Needles, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the yarn shop I had heard the most about when I began my journey. I was very excited to visit this shop and I had a good reason to be excited.

It so happened that I joined them on a knit night and it was a really fun time!  When I walked in the door I was greeted by Cynthia, the owner, and asked if I was here for their knit night. She then showed me to the group and introduced me to them. Cynthia was not knitting with us, she was floating around and occasionally would come in and ask if anyone needed anything.

She has always been the owner of the shop. The shop has been around for 11 years now, and she cultivated a deep community. Cynthia did not always want to start a yarn shop.  For years she managed a local shopping center. She went back home to Portland, OR and saw the community a yarn shop could make, and that inspired her to start one. She very much views the shop as a business that she can have a close community at the same time. The shop is set up in a very beautiful and particular way. Decorating is not her strong suit so she has someone come in and organize for her. Seeing the yarn is very important and it should be done in a beautiful way.

Their knit nights are Thursday nights and they offer free knitting and crochet lessons on Saturdays. Since the shop is in a house it has a very cozy atmosphere. During the summer they love to have BBQs outside on the back porch and during the winter they turn on their fireplace. Cynthia loves the fact that her shop is a place for someone having a good or bad day. Her shop is a place that people can enjoy and feel welcomed.

 The yarn I got from her is a 100% American Merino Wool from sheep raised in Utah by Brooklyn Tweed.

 I really enjoyed knitting, and talking to Cynthia and the other knitters. Cynthia is running a phenomenal yarn shop. She has a thriving business and community!

The yarn shops I have visited on this trip have been in existence from anywhere from 2 months to 15 years but The Wool Cabin tops all of them. The Wool Cabin, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been in existence for almost 40 years!

It has not been the same owner the whole time. The current owner, KayeLynn, has owned the shop for 3 years. She learned how to knit at the age of 15 but really got back into it when she was 22.  After graduating from college, she knew she wanted to buy a book store, or a tea shop or a knitting shop, but she did not immediately. She worked as a nurse for many years, but when it was almost time for her to retire the shop became available and she bought it!  She did not really how many knitters were in the area but when she made a place for them, people showed up. She now gets to enjoy running a yarn shop and the joys that go with it. KayeLynn views this yarn shop as a privilege. She is able to talk with people and hear their stories and encourage them. She loves for her shop to be a safe place for people that come in. There was a lady that was having an awful day once and she came in and said that all she wants to do is be here and knit, and when she left she felt better because she was able to relax and be with supporting people. She was very welcoming to me. When I walked in she came up to me and greeted me and began a conversation with me. KayeLynn is a loving and caring individual. She had a personal connection with each person that came into her shop while I was there. By talking to her, I realized how much she loves bringing people joy through her shop.

The shop motto is “Fine Fibers & Good Friends” which is a perfect way to describe The Wool Cabin.

Being invited to knit with a group is a wonderful feeling. My travels led me to Knittin’ Pretty in West Jordan, Utah. Immediately when I walked in the door I was asked if I wanted to knit with them. I sat down and started knitting with them and it was a very nice time!

The owner, Lauren, was not there but her mother, Sheila, and friend, Pat, were running the shop for her. They say that they pay to work there. They explained it to me, as they do not get paid but they get a discount on yarn. They could not be happier and more cheerful about it. They get to do what they love and spend time with wonderful people. Knittin’ Pretty has been in business for 7 years and Lauren started the shop when she was 22 years old! She has created a very nice shop with a good group of knitters. Lauren also met her husband through the shop! He came in looking for knitting needles and found more than that!

The yarn I got from them is a 75% sw Merino 25% Nylon fingering weight from a local dyer called the Yarnbrary.

Shelia explained to me that they want everyone to be welcome in their shop. They want people to feel welcome to sit and knit. They were so quick to welcome me and take me in as their own. I had a really fun afternoon knitting with them!

When I go to a yarn shop I usually have no expectations. When I pulled up to Willow Hill Yarn Company, I was delightfully surprised to find it is located in a little village!  Located in West Jordan, Utah, Willow Hill Yarn Company is in the lovely Gardner Village. While I was walking around this village I met into a lady named Georgia and began talking to her.  She is the mother in law of the owner of this village! She and her friend were shopping in the village and told me about the village. Twenty five or thirty years ago, the area had an old flour mill. It was run down and falling apart but there was a lady by the name of Nancy that loved old things and had a vision for it.  She saw that it could be a cute community of locally run shops. Her then-husband did not believe her and did not think that she could do it, but Nancy was ambitious and she knew what she could do. She worked hard and now it is a beautiful thriving area!  It is a beautiful community and it feels like you have stepped back in time.  Two of her kids now run the village.

Now to the yarn shop. This yarn shop matches the rest of the town with it being small and cute.  The owner, Emily, has owned the shop for 3 years but it has been there for 12 years.  She learned how to knit about 10 years ago, and has been going strong ever since. She was so friendly and while I was there she was teaching two little girls how to knit.  She really has a heart for teaching others the craft of knitting.  She had a wonderful selection of locally dyed yarns.  Some of the year, she hand dyes herself!  She loves to make mini skeins.

 The yarn I got from her is a 75% 25% sw merino and nylon sock weight that she hand dyed herself.

 Willow Hill Yarn Company was a really nice surprise for me.  Gardner Village was such a nice surprise also.  I was not expecting to find a village and community that I would love so much.  Please click on any photo to see it’s larger form!

@bw.lange

 

 

 

 

Yarn and coffee are a very good combination!  Lamb Shoppe in Denver, Colorado has a wide selection of yarns, and they also have a coffee bar!

 It is a great touch to their shop. When I visited, it happened to be a knit night!  There were many ladies seated at the different tables they had in their shop. It was a very fun atmosphere in the shop! It really reflected the owner, Mary Carol Jehn.  She is very excited and has a fun attitude about life. I asked her why she wanted to start a yarn shop with that she smiled and replied, “I don’t know!”  She had had this shop for 12 years and it started as a knitting group with a few of her friends. They decided that they needed a yarn shop in their area because they did not have one. A few days later, one of her friends showed her this space that, as she put it, “looked like a hazmat suit area”. But Mary Carol took her friend seriously and within a few days, she started the process to purchase the space. Now it is a beautiful shop with tall shelves on walls. They offer many different classes and the teachers are very kind and patient. I was talking to one of them about purling while knitting continental and she was kind enough to teach me a new purling technique! I stayed at this shop for 2 hours because I really enjoyed the knitting company and fun people!

The yarn I got from this shop is a 100% sw merino fingering weight by CowGirl Blues. It is not unique to the area but it is unique to the store. This yarn is from South Africa and this is the only shop in the USA that sells it.

 This shop was a loose and fun shop to join for a knit night.

What do vacuum cleaners and yarn shops have in common? Anything? Well, there is one thing and that is Blazing Star Ranch. This shop is in the Englewood, CO area, but it is the most unique location of all of the shops I have visited. Why? Because it is in the back of a vacuum cleaner store!

 My first question to Karen, the shop owner, was “why a vacuum cleaner store?” She replied, “The rent was right!” She began her shop in 2012 and has been there ever since. She did not begin as a yarn shop owner, she began as an alpaca farm! From her farm, then she started her yarn shop. She started in the back of this vacuum cleaner shop and she still loves it today!  Hung up around her shop are many ribbons from showing her alpacas. She has been very successful in her alpaca showings. Because she raises alpacas for their fiber, her shop is very spinning focused. Because it is a smaller shop, this shop has a very close and cozy community. While I was there she was teaching a spinning class and it was fun to talk to them about their spinning. A lot of the things that she sells are her own handspun or fiber to spin yourself. This was a fun and unique shop to visit!

Ben, actually spent quite a bit of time in Colorado, before driving on to the state of Utah…here was his next stop…

Colorful Yarns lives up to its name! They are located on the south side of Denver, Colorado. I was very impressed with all of the yarn they had packed in their shop! Their front table holds their yarn of the month, and this month it is a beautiful deep purple. They have a very large place and they are using every inch of room. They are one of the biggest yarn shops in the area and they have been open for 15 years! Tiffany Smith, the shop owner, was not there when I visited but the employees that were there were so friendly and helpful. They told me all about her and how much she loves this shop. She will work during the evenings and before she leaves she might move things around to display the yarn in a better way. I explained to them that I am visiting different yarn shops and one of them immediately hopped up to get me one of their stitch markers and buttons. They were so kind and helped me with the many questions I had.

 I got a mini skein of a 100% sw merino fingering weight from a local dyer called KNERD STRING.

 This was a lovely shop with a very personable staff and a wonderful selection of yarn.

Sunday Afternoons should be a really relaxing time and even more relaxing if you are knitting! I found that Sunday afternoons are very popular at Ewe and Me. Located in the beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, Ewe and Me is a gorgeous shop that has a very relaxing environment. When I walked in I was very surprised to see the size of this shop. It is a very large and open space with multiple rooms. When you enter the main room, they have a long table with 26 chairs around it, and it was over half full when I was there! I began to look around a bit when one of the ladies at the table greeted me and she invited me to sit and knit. I sat down and started talking to her when another lady overheard my introduction and announced to the whole table, “This is Ben and he is traveling through” and then they all responded by saying hi to me. They were so welcoming to me and I felt at home. A few minutes later one of the ladies brought out a large bag with pattern books and magazines and said that she is no longer wants them and they need new homes. Without me even saying anything, she walked over to me and hands me a magazine and says, “This is the only one I have that has patterns for men”. It was so thoughtful of her to think of a complete stranger that had just walked in a few minutes ago.

 I walked around and talked to a few of the other knitters in the room and everyone was so kind! I began talking to Mary, who is one of the five employees there, and she told me about the shop. The owners, Debbie and Gary, are married and run the shop together. The shop has been open for 6 years but they have only been in this location for 1 year.  It is a huge shop and they still wish they had more room! But they use every inch of the space they have. Debbie and Gary’s vision for the shop is, that all hours the shop is open, are knit time. They want people to feel welcome to sit and be there all day! They have classes from knitting, to weaving and spinning. They will have movie nights occasionally in the space to build community in other ways than just knitting. Debbie and Gary have built this yarn shop based on love and community and it really shows. Everyone there was so kind and knew how to enjoy a Sunday afternoon knitting. I was in there for 2 and a half hours without even realizing it because I felt so welcomed and it felt like home.

The yarn I got from them is a 75% sw wool and 15% Nylon fingering weight from a local indie dyer called Andromeda Sock Yarn. The color-way is her Garden of the Gods color-way which I went to right after I left their shop. I was able to take pictures of the Garden of the Gods color-way AT the Garden of the Gods!

 I have always said, the yarn shop reflects the owner, and even though I was not able to meet Debbie and Gary, Ewe and Me is a wonderful reflection of them. They have created a wonderful community inside their yarn shop. Follow Ben on Instagram @bw.lange

Names of yarn shops are fun in the fact that they can be a play on words or a have a deep meaning to them. When I saw the name of this yarn shop I just had to go to it because the name is so unique. Two Unraveled Chicks and a Llama, located in Norman, Oklahoma, is the most unique yarn shop name I have seen. When I walked into this shop, one of the first things I asked was about the name. The owner, Teresa, explained to me that she and her friend wanted to have a yarn truck together. They wanted to be able to be mobile and pop up at events. When they looked into it they realized that it was too expensive because of the city’s fees. They found that if they had a yarn shop as the base of their business and then have a truck as a satellite they would not have to pay as much in fees. They were also wanting to start a yarn shop because the other local yarn shop had closed and it left a yarn shop void. The beginning of the name came about because it was two chicks that wanted to start a yarn shop together. They knew they wanted it to be Two Unraveled Chicks but they knew they needed something else. One of them jokingly said to add and a Llama on the end but it stuck! Teresa says that her husband is the llama and he fully accepts and loves the nickname. Teresa’s friend had to back out of the shop but the shop name stayed!

 With the shop only opening up two months ago they have already gained a good following. Teresa wants to be welcoming to everyone who comes in and makes them feel like they can stay and knit all day. She invited me to sit and knit and before I knew it, over an hour and a half had flown by! She has done a great job making a welcoming atmosphere in her shop. She still loves taking the yarn truck (whose name is Ellie) to different festivals and community events. When she does this the community is able to see that she is an active part of their community. She also has bins at the front of her store for people to donate hand made items to charities. She said that they are always filling up!

 The yarn I got from them is a 100% sw Merino fingering weight yarn from a local indie dyer, A Chick That Knitz.

 

Something I really enjoy about yarn shops is the layout of their shop! Yarnatopia in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has a very large and welcoming layout. It is located in a shopping center, and they take advantage of all of the space that they have. They have been open for two years and during the first year, they only had half of the space… but in the past year, they knocked down a wall to make it even more spacious. Mary, one of the owners, told me that when the opened their shop they wanted it to be as open and bright as possible. They have achieved this goal by having the biggest knitting circle that I have ever seen in a yarn shop. It was a large circle with a knitted or crocheted piece on the back of each chair. There was only one lady that was sitting and knitting while I was there but I am sure that the circle fills up. With focusing on being bright and roomy, they are not falling short on a variety of yarns. They had a very wide variety of yarns. From indie dyed to commercially dyed to acrylic, they have it all!

The owners Mary and Tricia were so kind to everyone that walked in. While I was there, a lady walked in asking for advice on needles. They quickly and cheerfully helped her with what she needed. They really love helping others and wanting people to feel welcome. The two of them make a really good pair, Mary prefers crocheting and Tricia prefers knitting. They also love helping their community. While I was there they were helping a lady fund a mission trip to Puerto Rico by selling her hand made stitch markers.

 The yarn I got from them is a 85% sw Merino 15% Nylon fingering weight yarn from a local indie dyer, Moon Drake.

 Mary and Tricia make a really good team and provide a wonderful space to build a loving fiber arts community.


Located in scenic Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Knit Unto Others was a lovely first yarn shop on my journey.  It was a little out of my way but when I walked in the door it was all worth it.

Knit Unto Others, Arkadelphia, Arkansas

I walked in and I was promptly greeted by the owner, Claire.  She was so kind, and welcomed me and began to show me around her lovely shop.  Claire was telling me that the building was not always a yarn shop. Claire shared with me that the building used to be owned by a man that worked with college students in the area.  The building was his house and he lived there with his wife.  Later they started a book store in their home.  He eventually passed away and the building sat empty.

Claire Gehrki

Claire and her family moved to Arkadelphia in 1984 and she was an adjunct English professor at Henderson State University. Claire says that she was not a very good knitter but she happened to walk into a yarn shop with her family and saw something very unique.  She saw that there were all types and ages of people that sit around and knitting together.  They were working on a charity project for a local children’s hospital. Claire saw two things that she loved: community and charity.  From then on, she had a yearning to start a yarn shop, and with some encouragement from family and close friends in 2007, she opened Knit Unto Others.  She told me that she wanted the name to be a reflection of what she envisioned her shop being.  She wanted her shop to be a place where there could be a community for anyone, and a place where they can work on projects for different charities. She saw the name on a blog and with permission, she named the shop Knit Unto Others.

Today she has a wonderful shop that has a very cozy atmosphere. With beautiful yarn in every room of the house, it would be very easy to spend hours there. I stopped by in the morning when it opened so there was not anyone there, but Claire assured me that after lunch the place would be filled with people knitting and building community.  This is something that I see in each yarn shop I have visited, is that the shop reflects the owner and Knit Unto Others reflected Claire’s passion for community and charity.

I did buy a skein of yarn, it is a fingering weight 75% sw merino and 25% nylon.  It is from a local indie dyer called Colored by Kristi.  Claire loves Manos Del Uruguay’s yarn and she loves that they are fair trade and supports their workers.

If you are in the Arkadelphia area, stop in and tell Claire and her community hello!

To see any photo in it’s larger form, just click on the photo!  Ben is on Instagram @bw.lange ~

 

Who’s Ben?  Well…he’s going to tell you!  Basically, I met Ben on social media – yep!  But pretty soon, I’m going to meet him in person – – why?  Because he’s driving across the country, from Alabama to Washington state.  He’ll reside in the same county as me, and we’ll meet face to face.  He’s decided to share his journey across the country with us.  He set out today and wrote this little bio about himself.

Hello! My name is Ben Lange and I will be writing about some of the yarn shops I visit!

Ben with one of Heidi’s Whippets

I am from Mobile, AL where I was born and raised. I attended Grace Christian University where I received my Bachelors of Science in Biblical Studies, with a Concentration in Pastoral Ministry. During the summer/fall of 2018 as a part of my degree program at GCU, I did a six-month pastoral internship at Grace Bible Church in Port Orchard, WA.  Now that I have graduated,  I have felt God’s call to return to Grace Bible Church, as an associate pastor apprentice.  I am very excited to return to the Pacific Northwest, and see what God has planned for me.

Now for the fiber arts portion of my story!  When I was 10, there was a lady at my church who taught my sister how to crochet. I saw her crocheting and I asked her to teach me. From then on, I spent hours reading the crochet today magazine and learning new crochet techniques. Living in Alabama I would only crochet when it was cold outside.  In 2017 I started to crochet much more, and I would crochet during my classes because it helped me focus.  This past August, during my internship in Washington, I was walking around Port Gamble and I wandered into The Artful Ewe.  I met Heidi and the whippets, and I fell in love.  Heidi asked me if I knit and I said, “No, I crochet” and she responded with, “If you want to learn, come back and I will teach you”.  So I did!  I went back at least once a week for the rest of my time in Washington.  Heidi taught me how to knit and spin.  I really enjoyed sitting and knitting with the village, at The Artful Ewe.  I fell in love with knitting and working with natural fibers.

Ben with Heidi, proprietor of The Artful Ewe, Port Gamble, Washington

Now, whenever I travel, I always stop and visit local yarn shops.  I will be driving from Mobile, AL to Port Orchard, WA and Mary asked me to write about the shops that I will visit!  I am excited to embark on these new journey, and I hope you will be able to enjoy my experiences too!

Thank you Ben!  I can’t wait to see your journey, and hear all about it, in your words. Stay tuned…

The Bubble Sweater by Stephen West

13 thoughts on “On The Road With Ben

  1. Pamela

    Sounds like Ben is going to be an interesting person to know! I am excited to see his ‘reporting’.

    Reply
  2. Lucy

    Looking forward to seeing where God takes Ben. I know wherever he goes, people will be in for a treat. Ben is so much fun.

    Reply
  3. Lynne Ruggles

    Ben, when you get settled, you should check out Allyn Knit Shop & Spinning Supply in Allyn, Washington. My friend, Lois Henderson, owns and operates this wonderful store, and you would love the women who knit there, including Lois’ mom, Jo. Tell them, “hi” for me!
    Lynne Ruggles
    Laramie, WY

    Reply
  4. Diana Cripe

    I love the name” Two Unraveled Chicks and a Llama! What a wonderful shop and Ben, you are killing me with the yarns you are getting. Such pretty colors.

    Reply

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