If you haven’t joined us in Bethlehem for Christmas in Bethlehem, you are in for a treat. Old-fashioned and family-oriented, this is the way to celebrate the holiday season. What does Christmas mean to you? We hope it is caroling, drinking hot chocolate, making ornaments, talking to Mr. and Mrs. Claus, listening to music, enjoying a bonfire with family and friends. Spend an hour or spend the day, but please, come into our small town and slip into a season of celebration.
Hi, My name is Paula and I’m a Yarnaholic.
I like to think of my yarn shop as a haven for fiber lovers. You can come in and be among friends. When you tell me, “I have more yarn in my stash than you have in your store,”… I believe you. I have seen some stashes in my time. Whole attics lined with plastic bins, whole walls filled with skeins of yarn. It is beautiful. So the first thing I want to tell you is do not be shamed by your stash. You are a beautiful, creative, fiber artist. You are as God made you. Be proud. Be creative. Don’t be cowed by the “tsk, tsk” of a friend or partner. That being said, I am going to help you deal with your stash, especially if it weighs you down, makes you feel slightly guilty, or if, in fact, you are downsizing and can’t use your stash as extra insulation around the walls (it is an idea worth considering though).
The first thing you need to do is divide your stash into two categories. Yarn I Love and Yarn I’m Not Sure How I Acquired. (The Yarn I’m Not Sure How I Acquired is a fun pile to make because you put one skein in it, then another skein, and you go to put another skein in and you notice how great the first two look together and take them out again. Don’t worry, take baby steps with this pile.) I’m going to tackle the Yarn I Love category first, because that is the largest pile and probably, for many of you, the only pile; after all, you are a yarnaholic and love your yarn. You will probably request it line your coffin like an Egyptian pharoah’s grave goods. It is precious. You are precious. It’s all good.
How to Use the Yarn I Love.
As Decoration. Yarn is beautiful, lovely to look at and touch. It should not be hidden in bins away from the light of day (well, maybe it should be away from direct light as that will fade it). Use it as decoration. Ball up seasonally coordinated yarns and put them in a decorative bowl on a table or shelf. Or several decorative glass vases. This actually serves two purposes: it justifies your yarn addiction and your bowl addiction. Both put to good use. You can rotate the seasonal collection multiple times a year—warm fall browns and oranges, Christmas greens and reds, cool blues and whites for winter, Easter pastels of pink and yellow, spring greens and purples…you get the idea.
As a Collection. Display your yarn in beautifully hand-made glass-doored cabinets. Or on bookshelves (you’ve read the books, you haven’t used the yarn yet). Hang the skeins on your wall. Get rid of those school pictures of your adult children when they were in second grade. They only embarrass them every time they come to visit. Stack your yarn up in attractive pyramids. Convert a bedroom to a craft room (I know, you’ve done that already), build a studio, or she-shed, transform your garage or basement to a yarn shop. In other words, spread out!
Knit Stash Projects. Stash projects are designed to use up stash (especially partial skeins of Yarn I Love that you already knit or crocheted into a gorgeous garment). Knit rectangles or squares of the same size and seam them into a scarf, put several scarves together for a throw or blanket. Put yarns of the same color family together, but not the same weight, and use a large needle to make a Thneed or Phat Hat and Scarf. Make a 10 Stitch Twist out of 100% wool and felt it for a baby mat or throw rug. Stash projects are fun and quick, with the added bonus of mixing all those yummy yarns together, allowing you to go from one to the other and back again.
Knit for Charity. Hats are quick and there are many places that need them. Baby hats for hospitals. Adult hats and scarves for homeless shelters. Hats and mittens and scarves for your local elementary school where children show up every day under dressed. You can hang handmade items on posts and fences with tags on them that say, Please Take Me, I’m Yours.
How to Give Away The Yarn I Don’t Know How I Acquired.
Give It To Organizations. You can often donate yarn to groups of knitters and crocheters at assisted living or nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools, and Girl Scout troops. You can always drop yarn off at charity shops, like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, or even your local second-hand store, where they will appreciate the donation.
Give it to the Young. Young knitters and crocheters often can not afford $6 skeins of yarn, not to mention $30 skeins of yarn. There are many cash-strapped knitters and crocheters out there who love yarn as much as you do, but have not spent a lifetime acquiring it, because they are still young and are just beginning their journey. If you don’t know any blossoming fiber artists, then you need to pay more attention to other people. Go to your local yarn store and ask if they will gift yarn to young people they know. Go to the local library. Put a basket on the sidewalk with a Free to Young Fiber Artists sign. You could even tuck in some appropriate sized needles or hooks from your stash, and start paring that down. Why not throw in a pattern or magazine, too? How fun! Remember giving is receiving and you will receive enormous pleasure when you give away yarn to young knitters and crocheters.
I hope I have inspired you to dig out that stash and give it the attention it deserves. Don’t forget that buying yarn and using yarn are two different hobbies, so please, come into the shop and add to your stash!
I know it may seem early, but for knitters and crocheters, if we are going to give handmade gifts, we need to start thinking now. My plan is quick and easy: hats with pom poms, fingerless gloves, mittens in chunky weight, headbands—you know—items I might actually finish by Christmas. Maybe an ornament? Socks are definitely out by now, but perhaps slippers in chunky weight? That sweater I wanted to start? On hold until January. That afghan? Binned forever (or maybe that is just a baby blanket? Car seat size?). So much yarn. So many projects. It can get overwhelming. The good news is, no one knows what my plans were. No one knows they received a bottle of wine instead of a felted wine coozie or a pair of machined alpaca socks from Imperial Yarns—very nice, by the way—instead of homemade socks, or Joseph Thomas coasters instead of hand crocheted coasters (also available at the shop). Ah, us knitters, we begin the holiday season way before Walmart, don’t we?
We are looking for uplift in our lives: some of us by joining a political campaign and attending speeches with like-minded people, some of us by posting and re-posting funny or touching stories on social media, some of us by playing music together or attending live musical events. I came across this piece about geese and the lessons we can learn from their social behavior. https://www.theflockjwr.com/lessons-from-the-geese.html. I hope by sharing it, you feel the uplift of being part of a flock.
My uplift comes from nature, yarn, and the people with whom I knit. The colors right now are vibrant and varied and will continue to be so for several more weeks. They remind me that we live in a beautifully complex and fascinating world that is forever on the move. My knitting project, the log cabin blanket, reflects my celebration of color and flow. My only decision is, “which color next?” There will be time for neutrals soon enough when winter puts so much of nature to sleep, but for now, gone are the greys, whites, and blacks that are trending in interior design. Colors are bursting out everywhere and they lift my spirits.
This Saturday at Love.Yarn.Shop., we’ll be on the sidewalk knitting, crocheting, “intel-sharing,” and watching the people and parade go by. Join us! The best part of being in a little town is the easy come and go, wandering around, poking your head in the shops, sitting on the park benches that line the street, visiting the pool and playground, listening to music at the gazebo while checking out the vendors, catching lunch at Rek Lis, Cold Mountain, or Maia Papaya. You’ll be able to do all that on Saturday. In addition to the events listed below, there’s a pool party at 5:00 at the town pool. Here’s the schedule of the other events and for a clearer picture, a link.
The 4th Annual Great Northern Yarn Haul begins Friday, July 12th and ends August 4th. With 23 yarn shops participating, a number of new ones, this is a fun way for knitters to explore not just new shops, but new towns and areas in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Day-tripping, or staying overnight, knitters receive give-aways from the shops, get to meet other knitters, and are introduced to new yarns, patterns, and products. The Yarn Haul celebrates the fiber arts and promotes a culture of sharing. Love.Yarn.Shop. will kick-off the Haul on Friday, the 12th from 5-7 with door prizes and nibbles and sips.
Having a yarn shop next to the artistic gardening of Lars Shick at Yonder Mountain on Main Street in Bethlehem, makes everyday in the summer both a joy and education. One day he’s putting in a new stone wall, tucking in chunks of Peach Citrine he recently acquired. The next day he’s poking little succulents into a rock garden. Then this morning, on the way to the shop, I spot curved iron rods spanning from the house to the shed, getting ready to support some climbing plants (maybe Hardy Kiwi or Honeysuckle?). Then the plants! The native Showy Lady Slipper; an unusual Chinese hydrangea, Deinanthe Caerulea; native Twisted Stalk (Varigated Streptopus); the intersectional Peony, Itoh Peony, a cross between a Tree Peony and a Herbaceous Peony. Lars is into edibles, also: he has American Chestnuts, fruit trees, Skirret (a sweet white root crop that was popular in Tudor England), Hardy Kiwis, amongst others. The rock gardens, the ponds, the chicken coop, even the old bus, make exploring his gardens a requisite when visiting Bethlehem. So if you are my customer, I’ll be asking, “Have you been next door?”
Partnering with Quince & Co. to carry their yarns has been one of my goals since opening LYS. I had already fallen in love with the simple, wearable designs of Pam Allen, so when she founded Quince & Co with values I shared—maintaining a low carbon footprint by sourcing wool and spinning it locally, encouraging quality and sustainability over quantity and disposability—I knew I wanted their yarns in my shop. I was able to carry their linen at first, and after three years, I am now able to carry their other yarns. I have started out with Lark, Owl, and Puffin. Lark is 100% wool, worsted weight, with good definition…perfect for a piece which is rich in stitch texture. Owl is 50% alpaca and 50% wool, and also worsted weight. The colors have an added depth from being dyed over one of the darker naturals. Puffin is a single-ply bulky; warm and squishy, it makes great winter garments and accessories. At the Yarn Tasting on February 8th from 5-7, we’ll be knitting with Puffin, then on Saturday at 10:30, I’ll be teaching a class on a simple brioche cowl using Puffin. Customers will receive a 20% discount on Puffin and the class on Friday night. Come in the shop to feel and admire these fabulous yarns.
Read more about Quince & Co.’s story here.
I am a shop that specializes in New England and American yarns. I use what little purchasing power I have (as a 500-square foot shop) to support and promote the yarn industry here. But I have an admission to make. I ordered Noro’s Kureyon from Japan. Some yarns have no domestic competitors and Kureyon is one, so when we scheduled a class on the Syncopation bag, which looks best with Kureyon, I gave in and ordered it. Do I feel guilty? A little. Can I wait to knit with it? Absolutely not! Kureyon is not everyone’s favorite yarn. It can be rough, it can break (which is annoying), and worst of all, it can sometimes have knots (naughty, naughty). But the color combinations and changes have won over the hearts of many knitters. So if you want to check it out, come on in.