Update: This is a very long post. And I am not sure how well-writ­ten it will be, as it was hard to write, espe­cial­ly near the end.

As many of you know, I love to knit and play with yarn. Well…I love just about ANY crafty thing that lets me cre­ate, like: sewing, scrap­book­ing, paint­ing, sketch­ing, cro­chet­ing, bead­ing, and prob­a­bly many more.

I found out some dev­as­tat­ing news today…my local yarn store is not renew­ing their lease this fall. Which means it will be gone in a mat­ter of a month unless some­one buys it and car­ries the torch. (If I had the mon­ey, I’d do it in a heart beat). I have lots to say about this, but I should give some backstory:

I don’t remem­ber how old I was when I first saw my mom knit­ting. I just remem­bered I want­ed her to teach me. I think I was 6 or 7. She start­ed me out with a scarf, in garter stitch, and as any knit­ter knows, while it’s an easy thing to do, it’s tedious. I quick­ly gave up.

But I still want­ed to learn some­thing. So she taught me how to crochet…A scarf. But at least with cro­chet, it went faster. So I was hap­py. But after three scarves, I was done.

Fast for­ward years lat­er to when I was in high school. I took up cro­chet­ing again. More scarfs. And a few blan­kets. Plain old double-crochet.

Over the years I would stop and start cro­chet­ing. I made basic baby blan­kets for each of my chil­dren, but it was­n’t any­thing that I felt the need to do every­day. And I NEVER did it in pub­lic. As a kid who got picked on a LOT in school (since first grade all the way to my senior year) I was very self-con­scious about what I did and where.

Around 2010, I want­ed to take up cro­chet­ing again and make some per­son­al­ized things for me. Things like a nice beanie hat, a nice scarf, maybe some gloves, some­thing. So I picked up cro­chet hook, found a site called Rav­el­ry and found a pat­tern that I thought looked easy enough to try (I have NEVER worked with pat­terns before). As a cro­cheter would say…I was “hooked”.

I pro­ceed­ed to knit 4 pairs of fin­ger­less gloves, 4 Luna Love­g­ood Scarves (from Har­ry Pot­ter), 5 Shawls, 2 chok­ers, 2 water bot­tle cozies, and a match­ing beanie and scarf set. (All of which can be seen below.) While I was enjoy­ing myself, some­thing was missing…

I kept look­ing back at a few of the projects I had made for me and I was­n’t hap­py with them. The stitch­es were too “fat” and I want­ed some­thing that did­n’t real­ly look so “hand-made”. So I searched.

I ven­tured into look­ing into knit­ting pat­terns and there I found pat­terns for EXACTLY what I was look­ing for. I was bound and deter­mine to start knit­ting. I read up and did a few projects that seemed easy enough and through the pow­er of youtube I taught myself what K2tog, SSK, sskpsso, and CO and BO meant.

But then my trou­bles start­ed. I was hav­ing a very hard time find­ing the right nee­dles. While Michaels had plen­ty of straight nee­dles, most of my projects need­ed cir­cu­lar nee­dles and they had a very lim­it­ed sup­ply. I could find the size, but not the length, or vice-versa.

I had seen the Dou­ble Ewe Yarn store in my com­mu­ni­ty for a few years. But, like small local scrap­book shops, I had a feel­ing that it would have its own “com­mu­ni­ty” of women, and what would they think of a “guy” walk­ing in “their” store to buy yarn? Was he a stalk­er? What was his “REAL” inten­tions? So I avoid­ed it. But, after a few months of frustration…I fig­ured I had no oth­er option.

So I gath­ered up my courage and ven­tured in on a Sat­ur­day after­noon all by myself…of course, as I feared.…there was a class or some­thing going on and there were lots of women there.…I almost walked right back out of the store. I was nervous.

Luck­i­ly the store was walled in sec­tions, so I stayed right in the front and bare­ly moved three feet in any direc­tion so that they would­n’t see me. I don’t know how long I stood near the front counter and just stared at the wall of notions, but I did­n’t dare ven­ture out of that spot. I can prob­a­bly still tell you exact­ly what notions were on that wall, I prac­ti­cal­ly had them memorized.

Final­ly I saw a bright red yarn on the oth­er­side of the shop (still in the front though) and moved over to it. It was beau­ti­ful­ly soft and I was in love. And then I met Kelly.

She had heard the door chimes and came out to see who was in and if I need­ed any help. I explained that I was recent­ly new to knit­ting and I need­ed some nee­dles. While I had­n’t brought my actu­al pat­terns with me, I did have the info writ­ten down.

She asked me what brand I preferred.…

Say what? there are more than just “susan bates” brand??? I asked her what her pref­er­ence was and she explained the brands she had and how she felt about each one. She asked me great ques­tions about how I knit and direct­ed me to the “cadil­lac” of nee­dle brand, the Addi’s (even though I know noth­ing about cars, my dad owns a ’57 Cadil­lac, so I was all over that reference).

When she pulled out that iPad with the Square Pay­ment app to swipe my cred­it card, I knew I had found the right store. How lit­tle I actu­al­ly knew. It turns out not only was she knowl­edgable about yarn, and knew good tech when she saw it…she was a gamer too…a fel­low “geek” like me!

And that is when my love affair with the store began. My bi-week­ly allowance from my pay­check prompt­ly went into that store. My yarn stash and knit­ting know­eldge grew thanks to Kel­ly and the Dou­ble Ewe. I would joke with Kel­ly that I was­n’t buy­ing yarn, I was buy­ing “shares” in her store. We would add up my receipts for her gift cer­tifi­cate pro­gram and you would quick­ly see the obscene amounts of mon­ey I had spent there in a mat­ter of mere months.

After being com­fort­able with the store and Kel­ly (who I felt like I had known for­ev­er!), I thought I would try a class or some­thing. There were still tech­niques I want­ed to learn and I real­ly want­ed to tack­le a sweater!

The month­ly “Knit­ter­ven­tion” seemed like a great way to dip my toe in the water and meet the com­mu­ni­ty that flocked to this store. But I could­n’t do it alone. I insist­ed my moth­er come with me (who had­n’t knit in years). She reluc­tant­ly came with.…and we pro­ceed­ed to “have a ball”.

The women were won­der­ful, and would inquire to what I was work­ing on and we would lis­ten to each oth­er’s sto­ries. That first night my moth­er and I were hooked. We went the next month and brought my youngest daugh­ter along who also want­ed to learn to knit…and crochet…and hand knit.…she just would­n’t stop!

I was amazed that many of the women remem­bered my name and what project I was work­ing on the last time. Gone was the self-con­scious­ness about being the only guy knit­ter in a sea of women. They took me in as one oth­er own and made me feel welcome.

My life changed from them on. I had a place that I could go and escape and de-stress for a while, peo­ple that I could talk to, ask ques­tions, get their opin­ions on things and just gos­sip with. And Knit­ter­ven­tion has become a way for three Gen­er­a­tions of Jones’ (my mom, me and my daugh­ter) to spend time with each oth­er and share this love of fiber.)

And when Kel­ly put togeth­er an auc­tion bas­ket for my PTA’s silent auc­tion (and I won it with my super bid­ding) I got hooked on mon­sters and became known as the “mon­ster guy”–and no funky, extrav­a­gant yarn was safe from my clutches!

It even changed my work life. A fel­low co-work­er that also knit­ted, that I rarely ever talked to, found out I was a knit­ter and we began shar­ing projects and yarns we found. While she lived in St. Paul, she had heard of the Dou­ble Ewe and had want­ed to vis­it it. After my encourge­ments, she final­ly did and loved it. She had been to many stores in St. Paul and nev­er felt wel­comed by the store’s “com­mu­ni­ty” or the store itself had much to be desired, some were even down­right rude! She would con­tin­u­al­ly tell me how lucky I was that my first store I ven­tured into was such a wel­com­ing place.

She quick­ly became a part of the Dou­ble Ewe com­mu­ni­ty as well. She would go to the Wednes­day open-class with me and we would ask our ques­tions and not feel like they were dumb ques­tions. We would share projects and laughs with oth­er class attendees.

Just last Fri­day I taught one of my best friends how to knit at the Dou­ble Ewe. I was hop­ing to be able to induct her into this won­der­ful com­mu­ni­ty of knitters/crocheters.

While I under­stand the rea­sons the own­er is not renew­ing the lease, fam­i­ly and per­son­al time should come first, I am dev­as­tat­ed and heart­bro­ken. I feel like I am loos­ing a fam­i­ly mem­ber. I even got a lit­tle emo­tion­al on the dri­ve in to work tonight as it real­ly start­ed sink­ing in.

It took me so long to even ven­ture into the store and find this com­mu­ni­ty of such wel­com­ing peo­ple, that I don’t think I can go through that all again.  From the hor­ror sto­ries I have heard about oth­er stores, I don’t think I can put myself back into those “self-con­sious” shoes and try to find anoth­er store.

But I don’t want to loose con­tact with this com­mu­ni­ty. This store has become such a part of our lives that I don’t know what I’ll do. I know I’ll prob­a­bly just start order­ing yarn online (although I won’t know what it feels like until I get it), but what do I do to con­tin­ue this com­mu­ni­ty of knit­ters? Will I ever see Kel­ly again? Will I ever hear Emi­ly (her daugh­ter) say “bert, bert, bert, bert” when­ev­er I am in the store? Will I ever get to hear more of Rita’s great south­ern quotes–like ‘I tore myself into crazy!’ Even if the store is bought by some­one else, will I have to actu­al­ly pull out my cred­it card to pay?*

Options keep run­ning through my head. What about a “coop” store? What about the com­mu­ni­ty “share-host­ing” knit­ter­ven­tion so we can all still meet togeth­er? An online “group” to stay in touch? I pray that there is some­way that the com­mu­ni­ty can stay con­nect­ed and still meet once a month to knit and chat.

But most of all, I’ll miss Kel­ly and that store. I wish Kel­ly luck in her future ende­vors and I pray that this is not good­bye. And I thank her from the bot­tom of my heart for all that patience, time and knowl­edge that she has bestowed upon me, and the friend­ships that she has helped cul­ti­vate, even if she did­n’t know it.

She and this store has been a shin­ing gem in this com­mu­ni­ty and more impor­tant­ly in my life and will be great­ly missed.

So thank you Kel­ly, for every­thing. I guess it’s final­ly time to bind off…

…Until the next project.

*Because Kel­ly uses the Square App, my iPhone can just “open a tab” and my name just pops up on her list of pay­ment options and she can just click on my name to charge my pur­chas­es, I don’t have to even pull out my wallet.

If you want to fol­low me and keep in touch, you can find most of my online con­tact infor­ma­tion at http://about.me/tiggermn or on Rav­el­ry at http://www.ravelry.com/people/Taphaba

And please, make sure to check out the com­ments at the end of this post, past all these pho­tos below.

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6 thoughts on “A Guy. Some Yarn. A Store. A life changed.

  1. Thank you, Bert, for writ­ing so beau­ti­ful­ly what all of us are think­ing. I only met you once. Dou­ble Ewe is my sec­ond home I’m there so often but just hap­pen to be there at dif­fer­ent times than you. We’re all going to be lost sheep (ewes) with­out Kel­ly and Dou­ble Ewe.

  2. Bert, I just met you last Fri­day at Dou­ble Ewe, but had heard about your love of knit­ting before. Thank you for the fine things you said about Dou­ble Ewe and my daugh­ter, Kel­ly. I am also sad about her clos­ing shop but sup­port her deci­sion. She has touched many lives and hearts the past 6 years and I know she will miss her con­nec­tion with those as well as they will miss her, but hope­ful­ly you will all stay con­nect­ed somehow.

    1. Thank you. And if no one pur­chas­es the shop, at least Knit­ter­ven­tion will live on. I talked to Kel­ly today about tak­ing over the host­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties of that and I have a near­by venue that I can host it at, so at least the store’s com­mu­ni­ty would have that to con­tin­ue to stay in touch with each other.

  3. Bert,
    I just met you two weeks ago at Dou­ble Ewe, and was hap­py to meet a new knit­ting friend. Read­ing this made me teary.… you cap­tured it well. Wish­ing Kel­ly so well as she moves on to her next chap­ter- she is to me, just as you described- and I too felt like I’d heard about the death of a loved one. Love your ideas- co-op etc., hap­py to hear about Knit­ter­ven­tion liv­ing on! Hope to see you tomor­row at knitting!

  4. Since I have been at a total loss for words to describe what I am feel­ing, I am grate­ful that you were able to do it so well. I will miss Kel­ly (and the shop) more than words can say.

  5. Bert,
    I could­n’t have put it bet­ter myself. I think I have been in a “state of shock” and read­ing your wise words have helped me to grieve. I have lost a friend, fam­i­ly mem­ber and enabler all in one fell swoop. Thanks.

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