*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!!

Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor & Charity Knitting at the Churchmouse

Last week Arbor was released by Brooklyn Tweed!  It was everywhere on social media, and I was curious.  Worsted spun construction, what does this mean…I’d never heard of it before.  I had seen the color selection, and in the photos, the yarn looked soft.  Is that possible for something to look soft.  Well anyway, fortunately for me a local yarn shop, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, carries the full Brooklyn Tweed collection — so I decided to take my camera, and drive to Bainbridge Island and check out this yarn for myself.

I love that Jared’s yarn is made in the United States.  It really means a lot to me.  I’ve enjoyed the Shelter, Loft & Quarry.  I have never knit with Plains (yet).  So, dk weight, I wondered if it would have the same construction as the others, but no.  There are 30 colors from which to choose, and it breaks down like this: 50 grams | 145 yards | DK weight

  • 100% Montana & South Dakota-grown Targhee wool
  • Dyed in Saco, Maine. Spun in Springvale, Maine

Here is where the story shifts a bit… while I was there at Churchmouse, there was a large gathering at the table.  These women where very busy.  There was a real cohesiveness about this group; it wasn’t like a class.  They were a happy collective, working together in a focused fashion to an end goal.  There, I’ve described what I saw.  This was the Charity Knitting Group.  Churchmouse has a charity knitting group that meets every third Thursday of every month!  In chatting with Carrie Trapp, Churchmouse employee and group leader, she told me that the group started in 2002, and has become very philanthropic.  They disburse items to probably three different groups at any given time; from men’s and women’s shelters in Seattle, to the street people.  They were busy knitting hats and felted bags, but I believe they knit different things at different times.  They do the knitting, and there are others that help with the disbursement.  In the little felted bags, they even include toiletries.

I was amazed and humbled.  The fruit of their generosity is abundant.  During this time of harvest and thanksgiving, these women are to be applauded!  Thank you to the Churchmouse for sowing the seed of charity.

In closing, I didn’t purchase any Arbor yet — as you all know, it’s the year of the baby for me, and I have a grandson to knit for!  You can click on any of the photos to see a larger version~

 

Glamping With The Plucky Knitter

Being a gal from the Pacific Northwest, I love the play on words the Plucky Knitter used on her ‘Glamping’ retreat held this last weekend, in my neck of the woods (hee)!  We consider ourselves outdoorsy people here in the Northwest.  This retreat weekend was held in a truly unique venue, that speaks to a northwest style with lots of wood and big timbers; Island Wood located on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Washington.  I can totally see how the play on words comes in with ‘glamping’ as the campers had their own cabins and meals served catered style in a community mess hall.  This event included classes, shopping, friendship bracelets, fine dining and s’mores of course.

The Plucky Knitter aka Sarah Dimond and her lovely yarns, fall into the ‘exclusive’ category, in that they are extremely popular and sought after.  She works with luxury fibers, and of course her colors are custom.  You will find merino, cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, camel, alpaca and even yak fiber in her line of fine yarns.  As soon as she dyes up batches and gets them ‘on-line’ they are sold out.

Yep, I said on-line.  But, America’s Knitting is all about the yarn shop!!  Yes, that’s true — but I didn’t want anyone thinking that I am out of the loop.  I try to know what’s going on all around the knitting industry.  Especially, when things happen in my back yard, I must go and investigate.

For the most part, I, (and I hope all of you) purchase yarn and notions from your local yarn shop.  Whenever I travel, I take my knitting (that goes without saying), and I always look up and see where the local yarn shops are (on America’s Knitting of course).  I look at what I have going, and try and squeeze in a trip to a LYS.  BUT, sometimes…someone gives you yarn from their stash, or gifts it to you.  Sometimes you are buying craft yarn because the recipient isn’t going to take care of it or you are on an extreme budget, but must cast on.  I’ve even heard stories of yarn on sale in the catalogs that was the perfect color purchased in the middle of the night.  You see where I’m going with this — we are addicts.

There’s so much out there from booths at venues such as Rhinebeck, the Stitches events, the Vogue Knitting LIVE events, the catalogs, the on-lines….and then there’s our trusty LYS that is always there for us.  They are open often times, 7 days a week, all day.  They furiously and tirelessly knitting up shop samples, and plan schedules of classes and in-store events, from holiday open houses, to fashion shows, trunk shows, book signings, sales and the list goes on.  These shops pay local county taxes, state taxes and federal taxes, and they are there for us, and provide most of all, technique and community.

The Plucky Knitter works very hard too; her online presence is always up to date, she has a successful Ravelry group, gorgeous photography, fun and current pattern support, and playful swag that’s always good for a smile.  The Plucky Knitter is a family owned business out of Michigan; and Sarah and her sister Hayley are the face of the brand.  There is NOTHING not to like there, I love their yarn….just wish it was a little more available in your LYS.  But, one could say made in USA, except I’m not sure of the sourcing of their yarn.

Plucky Knitter does occasionally have trunk shows at yarn shops — they were seen at Knit On Pearl Yarn Shop in Jackson Wyoming, and Wool & Honey yarn shop in Cedar, Michigan, and their custom dyed excusive yarn colorways for Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  So, if Plucky yarn is on your radar, follow Sarah on any number of social media venues, and maybe she’ll land at a yarn shop near you!  The Plucky Knitter also participates in Stitches South and has their own Shindig annual event~

 

What Makes For A Good Yarn Shop?

I may be the owner and operator of America’s Knitting, but first and foremost, I am a knitter, through and through!

What makes for a good yarn shop?  The answer…SO many things.  Not every hero wears a cape.  Churchmouse Yarns & Teas has this in spades…

At the top of the list – it has to be inspiration.  What brings you back to your LYS time and time again.  Here in western Washington, we have so many yarn shops, that it’s pretty competitive.  What if you don’t need anything?  You have lots of yarn, you’ve got needles in every size, books and books of patterns, not to mention the internet.  What is it that makes you, ‘just want to go’?

Who is there; maybe your favorite employee, that has become a friend of sorts or knitting friends that you know possibly?  The yarn that is on your mind, that you just have to go visit it.  Maybe it’s a pattern, that is on your mind, the next in the queue of projects.  I know, you’ve had a week, and you are thinking of treating yourself.  OR, somebody earlier bought something, and you just have to see it for yourself.  The shop pattern you can’t get out of your head!

Ok, let’s veer off and talk specifics – great lighting, free parking and plenty of it.  Classroom space, great classes that always work out.  Here you go….enough yarn to knit a bedspread or a sweater for a huge man (come on….we’ve all been to those shops that only have enough yarn to knit a scarf or a hat or mitts, socks).  Friendly and knowledgeable staff, it’s a must!!  All these things contribute to a great yarn shop.

Lots of knitters, and yarn shops nationwide are familiar with Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Their patterns are sold throughout the country, and probably over seas.  If you’ve ever knit a Churchmouse pattern, you will know, that their attention to detail is spot on.  We’ve all had those patterns, where for the life of us, we don’t know what they are talking about – you practically need an interpreter.  OR, the designer assumes that you are a long time knitter and know everything – why do you even need a pattern.  How about those patterns that after you’ve knit them once — forget about it — it is never knit again by anyone.

Churchmouse patterns are classics for one thing, and so easy to understand, just let go and trust what you are readingWell, the store is no different!  Classic, friendly, happy, well lit, plenty of yarn on the floor and in the back, knowledgeable employees, great communicators, they are open 7 days a week, they work super hard, and it shows!  The displays are tasteful, quaint, and simply lovely.  The store is ALWAYS clean.  Thanks for leading the way, being a class act, teaching the craft and your knowledge of tea, and sharing your patterns with us Churchmouse!

I was at their latest pattern launch with some friends.  If you aren’t familiar with Churchmouse knitting patterns, please take a moment and check out their website – it’s worth it~