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