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

2018 Year End Report

Hello EVERYBODY,

Cashmere Cottage Yarn, Closed 2015

It’s that time of year again where I produce my year end report.  As you know, America’s Knitting went live in August of 2007.  It took me a year to get my bearings start reports, and keep numbers.

Creative Beginnings, closed 2015

After that first year I started a mailer that went out to all the yarn shops every September.  This mailer gives me a chance to ask for monetary support from the shops, but it also allows me to also clean up the map and data base during the 4th quarter of every year.

Beach Basket Yarns & Gifts, closed 2016

During the course of the year, people notify me of new shops opening up, and stores closing.  Some of this data I find on Facebook, some come from customers, and some of it comes from the shop owners themselves, and then the mailer.

Local Yarn Shop, closed 2016

So here we go…here are this years numbers for 2018!  We started the year out with 970 stores across the United States.  As of today, we have 937 stores.  This brings us down another 33 stores.

Yarnhouse Studio, closed 2017

While the economy is much better than it has been, still, knitters are doing a great deal of purchasing online to businesses that don’t have a brick and mortar presence.   All I can do is track the shops, do the math and bring you my findings.  But you know what’s going on.  It’s up to the consumer to decide where and how to spend their discretionary income.

Yarn shops have to keep up and work hard for your business, they have to earn it!   I thank all of you out there who support the small business of the local yarn shop.  I can’t help but wonder what it will be like with fewer yarn shops.  It’s true that you can’t feel fiber and see true color through the computer or phone, but more than that, it’s the community lost.  The personal contact, the friendships made, the relationships.

Yours in knitting,
Mary*

America’s Knitting….well, so is Canada!!

Whenever I travel anywhere, I always find a yarn shop to visit.  Also, while traveling, I always have my camera.  Well, in September, I went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  AND, I found a yarn shop, 88 Stitches!

My friend Jana and I were traveling up to Vancouver, BC to attend Knit City.  It’s an annual event held up there in late September.  We always call it our west coast Rhinebeck.  It really is the perfect venue.  It’s just the right size, not small, but not huge.  It’s got tons of celebrities, or as I like to call them ‘Kniteratti’!  There are tons of booths full of yummies, and tons of classes with all the famous people, and an all around good time.

Jana knows me well, and had heard about 88 Stitches on the Grocery Girls podcast.  Last year, we had visited Baad Anna’s, which was located very close to our hotel.  This year it was 88 Stitches in Langley.  Honestly, it was the first thing we did — even before checking into our hotel!

It was a lovely early fall day, we found the shop with the help of some GPS, then parked the car.  When we went inside, the two lovely gals working, were happy to see us and eager to help.  It was clear that they were busy working, putting up new inventory.  We just wanted to look around, touch and feel, and take some pictures.  I was however, looking for a needle.

Leila (I think) was helping me with my needle situation, while Jana was looking around.  Then I started looking around, and found a rad basket and cute notions pouch and tape measure.  I totally get sucked in.  I made my purchase and took my pictures.  They had a wonderful selection of yarns including Sweet Fiber Yarns, Baa Ram Ewe, Berroco, and Lettlopi to name just a few!

As we finished up, we asked Marilyn for a few lunch suggestions before heading on into Vancouver.  She gave us three suggestions, and exceptional directions into Langley proper.  What an amazing town!!  The shops were amazing and the restaurants, and bakeries, and candy shops all looked wonderful.  We ended up at a brewery called Trading Post Brewing.  The place was rustic on the inside with an amazing covered patio out back with blankets and a gas fireplace.  The beer was good and we had fried chicken sandwiches that were dreamy!

Thank you Marilyn for the great directions, thank you Leila for the help with my purchase.  I still love my basket and bag.  I want to visit Langley again soon!

As always, if you want your LYS featured send us some digital pictures and a few lines and we’ll get them up right away.  Click on any photo to see it’s larger form.

 

Hurricane Harvey – Labor Day Weekend – Back To School

There’s so much going on! As I watch the aftermath of Harvey, and see hospitals evacuating because they don’t have any potable water, and wells breaking down, and families being held up in make shift shelters in convention centers.  My head swirls with the good fortune at every turn; the grocery chain HEB sending convoys of trucks with food to serve everyone, Anheuser-Busch pausing their beer production to send bottled water to Harvey victims, and neighbors helping neighbors to evacuate even the pets.

The same holds true within our own knitting community.  There are three yarn shops in Houston, with two more within a 24-mile radiance, not to mention the yarn shops affected in Louisiana!  I’ve seen a couple of fine offers coming from the knitting community to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  Here is a letter from Lauren & Trey of Lolo Did It I’m sorry this offer ran out….I’ve been experiencing computer and internet issues and couldn’t get this out any sooner – I AM SO SORRY!  Please follow Lolo Did It on Instagram, to get to know her lovely products.

Huge Thank You To Everyone

I realized this evening that I have quite a few people who do not follow me on social media, so I wanted to make sure to tell you everything that’s been going on over here.

Sunday night Trey and I decided we wanted to do something that had more of an impact on the relief effort than we could do all by ourselves. So we are dyeing a surprise colorway and all proceeds are going to the American Red Cross for the Hurricane Harvey relief effort in Texas and Louisiana. We have had an amazing response from our beautiful fiber arts community and I’m so proud and thankful to be a part of it!

Click “Shop Specials” for the Hurricane Harvey colorway, there is a link in the listing if you would like to donate directly to the Red Cross instead of purchasing a colorway. There are tons of local charities and relief projects to donate to directly as well. The sale of this colorway will end on Thursday 8/31 at 10pm PST. I have left the quantities unlimited except for 2 yarn bases, which I have completely run out of and can’t get re-supplied in time. Everything will be shipped by 9/18 – wish us luck dyeing it all for you next week! We are so ready and excited to take on the challenge for a good cause!

There are other amazing makers in this community who are also giving their time, donating proceeds, and making items for those in needs. Every little bit counts! Money isn’t everything, as always: a smile, a word, a gesture, a post, or a small gift will help someone whose life has been torn apart by this tragedy. I have had people tell me they will be knitting Roxie the Hippo and other stuffed toys for kids, which is just crazy generous! So don’t think you can’t make an impact if you can’t give money, make a donation, or make a purchase. All of our hands can make a difference!

Thank you all again!

Love, Lauren and Trey

Also, another offer in from WEBSOur hearts are with all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Through 9/4/17, WEBS will donate 5% of sales to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief (up to $20,000). 

This is from their facebook page, and there is also a note on their website.  Speaking of facebook, they are also matching funds donated through their site to the Red Cross I believe.

Please consider helping out, and don’t worry, helping will be going on for quite some time.  The problem in Texas will take a long time to recover from.

While, we have our own problems, like computer and internet issues, and things coming up in our lives, with kids going back to school, and as we enjoy the long holiday weekend of Labor Day, please remember our friends in Texas & Louisiana. They will be needing lots of help to get back onto their feet for quite some time to come.  Texas, and Louisiana, you are in our hearts!

Yarnhouse Studio

Kathie Malcher, one of our roving reporters, traveled to Alabama in October of this year.  Here is what she sent me:

Mary –

I was in Auburn, Alabama the last weekend in October. On Saturday, the 29th, I stopped into the Yarnhouse Studio in Opelika.  It serves Opelika and Auburn.  The owner, Jan, said that it was the only yarn shop for 90 miles.  It is located in beautiful, historic downtown Opelika.  It is owned by 2 sisters and they have over 100 years of combined knitting experience. The day that I visited, Jan was working so I got to meet her.  She is the person in the picture that you see. 
The store looks like it is small when you come to their front door, but, believe me, it is not – the store has 3 large rooms and they dye their own yarn right in the store.  I believe that their hand dyed yarn came in all weights.  There is no other indie dyer in the area.  Yarn lines that they carry are – Cascade, Berroco, Brown Sheep, Baah, Blue Heron, Cestari, Classic Elite, Done Roving, Juniper Moon, Malabrigo, Shibui and others – a great selection of quality yarns.  They cater to knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers and felters.
A delightful shop – great lighting – and friendly people.  Stop by if you are ever in the area.
Thanks,
Kathie
20161029_130504Thank you Kathie — you are always so good to remember America’s Knitting, and help us out with a peek into yarn shops around the country.  I used to live in Montgomery, Alabama when I was a child.  I loved the south, the people are so warm.  You did a great job, and this shop looks right up my alley!  Click on any of these photo to take a closer look. Please support our local yarn shops~ 20161029_130537

Beyond The USA

Patrece1I have a friend named Patrece – and she is a little fireball!  She’s happy & fun – she loves to knit and she also loves to travel.  She travels locally, across our nation, and also abroad…what’s next Patrece ?? parts unknown??  She was very kind to share her latest travels with me, and want to share her photos with you. Patrece4

This time, Patrece travels to British Columbia, Canada!  I know we are America’s Knitting, but Canada truly is our neighbor.  You won’t find these places on our map, but here you can take a peek inside with Patrece!

Patrece3Patrece started her personalized shop hop with Button Button in downtown Vancouver, BC.  That is Patrece in the mirror – she’s so cute!  I think buttons can certainly make or break your project.  It’s really important to have a great selection to choose from and this shop looks like it fits that bill.

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Patrece5Then, Patrece jumped over to Granvillew Island for the Maiwa School of Textiles.  Granville Island is the cutest must see in Vancouver.  It’s a shoppers and tourists paradise.  I’ve been many times and love the honey vendor and the baker that makes the macrons. Patrece11

Patrece met some knitters at our Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat that is always held every February in Tacoma, Washington.  These gals were from Vancouver BC, and study with Jean Wong.  Patrece also studies with Jean Wong.  They were able to meet up for a hot beverage and then they all hit up Urban Yarns together.Patrece6

Patrece7Patrece bid them a farewell, and jumped to Gina Brown’s Yarn to see what was happening over there.  Wool Is Not Enough was not open, but she took a picture of their store and peeked in the window.

Patrece9 While she was in Button Button, she ran into the owners of Three Bags Full, so she had to check out this store.  All in all, a great trip, wonderful exercise and socializing.Patrece10

Until next time Vancouver! Thank you Patrece for sharing your wanderings with America’s Knitting, we love our neighbors to the north and always enjoy what they have going on.

If you click on any of these phots, you will see the large version of it.  Also, if you want to be a roving reporter for America’s Knitting, take some snaps, write a few lines and email it all over to me and I will create a posting for everyone to enjoy~

Down For 7 Consecutive Years

FullSizeRender (21)America’s Knitting has been tracking yarn shops across the nation since August of 2007!  Every year around Labor Day we do a mass mailer out to all the yarn shops.  Once a year, we garner financial support from the yarn shops with minor monetary donation – this keeps us going throughout the year, doing what we do.FullSizeRender (22)

Our goal is to support the LYS from the islands of Hawaii to the glaciers of Alaska, to the Dakotas and the Carolinas, from my home state of Washington all the way across the nation to New York and beyond.  I really feel that the local yarn shop truly is the heart beat of our craft, be it knitting, crochet, spinning, or weaving.  It’s a place where learning happens and community happens.

FullSizeRender (24)The mailer does garner some support, but it also serves as a useful tool.  All the shops that have closed or moved, those mailers get returned to me for investigation.  As we keep up with these shops throughout the year through facebook, website and telephone, this final act finishes the job.  I believe America’s Knitting is the most accurate listing out there in real time.  I hear from knitters and yarn shop owners on a daily basis, as shops open up, close and move locations.

Having said all of this, having any small business is a challenge.  For the last 7 years, our LYS number has decreased with this year being no different.  We started 2015 with 1177 yarn shops, and as of today January 6, 2016 there are now 1,090; that is a deficit of 87 yarn shops.FullSizeRender (20)

Please support your LYS, or an LYS on your travels.  They are doing everything they can with on-line support, classes and long hours, some 7 days a week to be there for you.  Every sale really does make a difference.  All of the beautiful pictures you see in this post are from Myra Garcia of Fancy Image Yarn, in Shelton, Washington, one of my many shops that support America’s Knitting!

FullSizeRender (23)Here’s to another great year of knitting~

Follow us on Facebook and join our Ravelry group!

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Sunday’s at the Yarn Shop

It’s the weekend; time off…..time to get caught up, on sleep, chores, and also, you want to squeeze in a little fun.

Rainy Day Yarns

What is fun; shopping with the girls, going on a hike with the dog, date night with the husband, taking the family out to the movies?  Time off, it’s needed to decompress, unwind, cook the meals you’ve been wanting to make from Pinterest, go to or have celebrations, do our crafts.  I went on the PNW Yarn Crawl this weekend — that’s what I did for fun!

 

Yep, there were eight shops, and my friends really only wanted to do four.

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So, four we did!  The weather was perfect.  We started at Starbucks for coffee – that was perfect.  Then we hit the road — did 3 shops, then stopped for lunch at Smokin’ Mo’s (that was perfect).  At our second stop, we visited The Black Sheep Yarn Shop in Olympia.  It’s a new shop that we hadn’t been to before.  Michelle Cohen is the owner, and the store was busy for the crawl.  She had her children there helping, which was awesome.  They were learning sales and entrepreneurialism.  Michelle had lots of other helps too, but it really brings it home that these yarn shops are definitely small businesses.

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What is it like for the small business?  A lot of shops, now days, are open 7 days a week.  When I started America’s Knitting in 2007, most shops were closed on Sundays and Mondays.  As time went on, shops decided to be closed only on Sundays. Then shops decided to be open all weekend and closed on Mondays.  They are all different, but you have to have time off…for your other life.

Free Pattern from Allyn Knit Shop

Free Pattern from Allyn Knit Shop

It’s Sunday here in Silverdale, Washington this morning, and the sun is shining.  It’s 52* and a little breezy outside, fall.  I’m thinking about church, and when that starts.  My husband had to work today, because today was the only day that the plumber could make it out to our job.  Yep, we are contractors, small business people as is the plumber.  With the bad economy, many people went out of business; now there aren’t as many plumbers as there once was.  Business picks up, and the plumbers that are in business can’t get it all done.  The trade has sort of fallen off with no work, so they can’t even really hire anybody, so they are working on Sundays, so is my husband today.  It’s ok, it’s time to be grateful for the work, and people are happy to work!

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As I am home on this Sunday enjoying a little peace and quiet, I wonder what is going through the minds of yarn shop owners across the nation today.  They have to go open the store, maybe they are thinking about the family at home, possibly feeling left out, wanting a real weekend themselves.  Maybe the family will stop in and say hello.  If it’s slow, they are  probably getting caught up on bookwork, bills, taxes.  If they are busy, they are enjoying the sales of the day, seeing their customers and what they are planning to make, or seeing their finished items.  They are wanting a profitable day – maybe it’s a class day at the store and knitters are in, learning new techniques, learning to knit.  Is it all worth it?  I’m sure, every one of the shop owners feel they are living the dream, love, and enjoy every day of having their own business.  Working very hard to put their own stamp on it.

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I absolutely LUV yarn shops, as I’m sure you do.  If you are put off, or you weren’t feelin it…give it another try.  The local yarn shops is a great community, you’ll meet your knitting friends there.  You are missing out, by not knowing these wonderful people.  They do sometimes have a bad day, just like you.  Calling all yarn shops, send me photos of your store, your events, your town, your knitters.  I want to talk about your store.  If you are a knitter that loves photography, take some snaps of your LYS and email them over with a few lines.

-happy weekend, happy fall

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America’s Knitting

25010273.pngThis is such a busy time of year.  What most of you probably don’t know, is that America’s Knitting does a mailer/fundraiser out to all the shops once a year.  Yep, I ask the yarn shops to support the website if they like the website and are glad that we are here.

I start in July gathering all my supplies for the mailer.  I get the mailer itself printed, order envelopes, buy labels, ink & stamps and I print out labels for all the shops.  My daughter in-law Kim & I sit down in August, and label envelopes, fold & stuff the mailer and stamp them all (a little wine may be involved).  All the mailers get mailed the first of September.  Then it begins.IMG_4477

All the stores that have moved…those mailers get returned to me unable to forward.  They need to be investigated as to where they moved to; then the database gets changed and so does the map.  The shops that closed, they get returned to me as well, marked not deliverable as addressed.  Those get a follow up just to make sure they are closed and then those stores get deleted.  Also, a little money comes in and that gets deposited, and the website sustains itself.

AKBlog 008Throughout the year, I get emails from knitters and crocheters that a shop is opening in their town, or that a shop has closed.  Sometimes I will get an email from the shop itself that they are closing or opening.  Just a little peek into what we do, to keep the listing accurate, up to date and complete. It’s a big task that is ongoing, but we do take it very seriously.  I’ve been running the numbers and keeping track of yarn shops since August of 2007 when the website went live.

Just a little trivia…in August of 2007 when the website went live, there were 1,447 yarn shops — as of today September 29th, 2015, there are 1,127 yarn shops; with 53 stores closing just this year (so far).  I love yarn shops and could go on and on, why I do what I do, but in short, I liken it to the high school band.  What would a high school football game on Friday night be without the band — BORING!  The LYS is the heartbeat of the craft.  We need them and we want them, trust me.Lambshoppe3

Know that when you log onto America’s Knitting on your pc, your tablet or your smart phone, you not only find an accurate listing of the nations yarn shops, but you are supporting small business.  Get to know your LYS, shop at your LYS, and visit yarn shops on your travels (I know you do).

SONY DSCIf you want me to feature your yarn shop, take some pictures and email them over to me and I will.  I’d be happy to support your LYS – tell your friends to book mark America’s Knitting, and look for us on Ravelry and Facebook~

Mary*

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Beach Basket Yarns

SONY DSCWhat else do you do on a very rainy Saturday in January?  You go on a custom routed LYS shop hoppy, that’s what!

The holiday’s have come and gone, the days are short, the kids are back in school, and HELLO, it’s winter. Libbie & Mary Libbie & I hit the road for a custom planned shop hop of 6 stores.  America’s Knitting has all the yarn shops in the country listed on the ‘Yarn Shops’ tab of the website, all 1,174 of them.  I estimate that a strong 2/3rds of these stores have their own websites and most of them can be found on Facebook.

Beach Basket Yarns, in Birch Bay (Blaine) Washington is one of the shops that I would call ‘old school’.  They don’t have a website, but they do have a Facebook page.  I think in todays world, that may be all you need??  Not everyone is on Facebook, not everyone is on Ravelry…seems hard to imagine, but it’s true, not everyone has a cell phone, not everyone has a smart phone.

SONY DSCMary, the owner of Beach Basket Yarns, was quite surprised when Libbie & I showed up.  We didn’t give her a heads up, we just made a plan and took to the road.  After we were in the store for a minute, Mary says….”if I knew you were coming, I’d a baked you a cake”…..and we all started laughing!  I would describe the store as beachy eclectic.  She has yarn everywhere literally with a good selection, or as Libbie would say, “something for everyone”!  The store has cute little canvas projects page with the store name on them, she has custom photograph cards from a local photographer that are amazing and Beach Basket Yarns offers beginning knitting every Saturday morning for an hour before the store opens FOR FREE!  I think this is a brilliant idea, because beginners need everything — they don’t have any yarn, they don’t own needles, and they haven’t acquired any patterns or books or notions.  So the free lesson is just is what is needed to  get them off and going.SONY DSC

SONY DSCI picked up some Cascade Yarns Cascade Kid Seta in the most gorgeous shade of blue, and Libbie treated herself to some Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky, fresh out of the box; Mary hadn’t even had a chance to get it priced and out on the shelf yet.  There is a shop dog named Mindy Sue that is beyond adorable and can do a ‘high five’…..cute!SONY DSC  The store had, what I would call a steady stream of customers, and we did our best to take a few pics to try and capture the essence of the store for you.  It was so rainy and dreadful that day, that we didn’t make it to the beach.  But, I may just grab my doggie and take another trip up on the first gorgeously warm spring day, just to visit Birch Bay, Mary, Mindy Sue and Beach Basket Yarns~

 

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