Here's where I've been the last week and a half. Jealous much?
That's my mom's garden in the background (well, part of it, anyway--there's like another acre and a half of it to either side). And that's me, wearing the prototype for my newest design, Irma, the pattern for which is in the works and almost ready for test-knitting.
I got to enjoy a full week of abundant solitude, peace and quiet at my parents' place up here in the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. During that time, I decompressed from a really intense week-long conference at UCLA, and got more or less caught up on email and some shamefully overdue committee tasks. Yay, me. I also poked around in some of the local antique malls, where I picked up a frickin' sweet Pyrex dish (with matching lid--score!), some vintage hankies (I got run-down during that conference, which I think helped trigger an allergy attack, and you can never have too many clean hankies on hand when your nose is running on and off all day), and a terrifically classy knitting pattern booklet from Montgomery Ward, circa late 1940s? Early 1950s? I'm guesstimating based on hats and hemlines...
That pleasant afternoon of prowling through old stuff was capped off nicely when, on the way back to my car, I happened across the recently-opened LYS just around the corner. Cabled Fiber Studio had a sign out front reading "Yes, you DO need more yarn! (And rods and reels.)" Ah, I thought, I am once more at home among my people...knitters and enablers! (Dear Hubby: If you're reading this, don't sweat it that you don't fish. I also spotted a shop on the way home called The Dragon's Something-or-Other that sells Warhammer fantasy miniatures, so you're covered on the reciprocal-indulgence-of-hobbies front. Who loves ya, baby?) I was also pleased to see that they'd yarnbombed the public art on the sidewalk outside the shop, bringing a much-needed touch of color and pizzazz to the small-town street. Two of the proprietors, Mary Sue and Beth, were in the shop that afternoon, along with a couple of local knitters who were settling in for the weekly knit night, and they all made me feel very welcome indeed!
Cabled Fiber just opened a few months ago, and I'm rooting for them to make a real go of it. They've not only created a beautiful and inviting retail space, with a focus on locally-sourced and hand-dyed yarns, tools, and roving; they've also coordinated a great lineup of classes, and they've jumped right in as supporters of the local arts scene and community events, too. When I stopped by, they were working on assembling little mini-skeins of yarn for a hand-dyeing workshop at the upcoming arts weekend, and Beth was tinkering with an old knitting machine they had so she could experiment with a pattern she'd found for machine-knitted slippers. She and Mary Sue showed me around their shop, and we chatted about my visit to the Knit Picks headquarters a couple of years ago. Cabled Fiber stocks the Knit Picks needles and tools, and they're close enough to the Portland area to go down for a visit to the Crafts Americana group themselves. I walked out determined to come back for their knit night the following week, and was so fired up by meeting them that I cast on for one new project that night when I got home, and made sketches and notes for two others, in addition to friending them all on Ravelry!
I just love it when I get to travel and experience LYSes like this. There's really no such thing as a big-box yarn shop, after all, or fiber franchises. (Ha! Can you imagine a yarn shop with a drive-thru window? "I'd like a Brooklyn Tweed hat kit in charcoal gray, two ounces of BFL roving, and a side of stitch markers, please." "You want needles with that?") My experiences with many of these small businesses in the U.S., Canada, and Europe suggests that they're really reflective of the people behind them. Their tastes, temperaments, and talents are as much on display as their inventory. And there are so many little differences between them--one shop might carry the exact same yarn lines as another, but organize by color, fiber content, or weight instead of by manufacturer or brand. There'll be more books and magazines in one shop, a bigger worktable or more comfortable chairs in another. And of course the customers and staff contribute mightily to the vibe, too. I think you could blindfold me and plop me in the middle of any yarn shop in the world and I could probably guess where I am just by hearing the customers chattering with the staff. Like I said--these are my people!
Before I left, Mary Sue and Beth offered me one of their nifty business-card-and-stitch-marker packets. There's a needle inventory chart on the back of the card, something I've been needing for a while--another score!--and a couple of buttons with the Cabled Fiber Studio logo and slogan: "Not your mother's yarn shop!" At that, I had to laugh--because, strictly speaking, being 2.7 miles closer to her house than A Dropped Stitch over in Sequim, Cabled Fiber Studio IS my mother's yarn shop. For this two weeks, at least, I'm happy that it's been mine, too. I'll see you at the Thursday Knit Night this week, Olympic Peninsula knitters!