Now that the cool weather is circling around us, my thoughts turn to which sweater to knit. Not that I don’t have a large variety of unfinished projects, from skirts to vests to summer tops to baby blankets, but I don’t have a sweater on the go, which for me, is the most satisfying project to knit when autumn comes. Last year I knit Pam Allen’s “Larch,” from her book Plain & Simple. This year I have pulled a selection: “Whole Weekend,” by von Hinterim Stein is right up my alley—attractive details at the cuffs and turtleneck collar, i-cord bind offs, raglan sleeves—simple, but enough flair to make it stand out. Then there’s the “Essential Sweater Dress” from Anna Cohen for Imperial Stock Ranch. Once again, turtleneck, but loose like a cowl, with an interesting wide garter stitch band down the front to mid-thigh. Yet, I am drawn to another Pam Allen, this time a cardigan, “Chestnut,” which has an overall cable pattern, the decreases occurring in the side stockinette band. Another cardigan under consideration is “Emma” in Julie Weisenberger’s Cocoknits Sweater Workshop. This open, long, and loose cardigan is perfect for throwing on in when the temperature’s drop in the evening. I like the extension of the ribbing up the back of the arms and the fabric side pocket construction. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try to the Cocoknits Method for a Tailored Yoke. That may be what sways my decision (and the fact that it is knit in bulky yarn on size 11 needles) but for now, I’m still reading over the patterns and wandering around the store looking at yarns.
Jane, the Colonial house manager, had not been a knitter, but she spent many hours on the sidewalk outside the yarn shop while we were knitting and spinning, chit-chatting. Ann spun most days we could sit outside, so hours were pleasantly passed, talking to passers by commenting on traffic, weather, politics, health, family, you name it. About a week after Ann passed away, Jane said she received a “divine unction” to become a knitter. “One knitter dies, a new knitter is born,” she said. Divine unction: that’s a lot to live up to, Jane—called out of the world for holy work, “the unction comes to make you useful. It will be like an odour that is not to be hidden: it fills all the room. You will be a prophet to teach, shedding light by your example. You will be a priest, to offer the sacrifice of praise. You will be a king, having rule over your own spirit.” It sounds like you’ll be following in Ann’s footsteps, that the odor is lavender, and I’m sure she is smiling.
In the town I have my business, there was no recreation program for children. It’s understandable. There are so many unknowns with getting people together right now. We see the result of bars opening, beaches opening, etc. More people infected by Covid-19 and more deaths. It’s not to be taken lightly, no matter how one would like to pretend we can get back to normal. You only need to talk to a nurse or doctor in a Covid unit to know this. People are dying. Yet, we are chomping at the bit to get back to socializing. We are social animals. So I arranged some sessions for kids in Bethlehem. I am teaching fiber-related crafts, and there are sessions in French, storytelling, singing, and most popular, golf. I sent an email out to business owners mainly. The response was poor. Many people are not ready to put themselves at risk. It isn’t worth it. I understand. In fact, the number of kids signing up is low—except for golf. I understand. No one wants to increase the number of sick people in our area. So it is with caution that we offer these classes. Everyone needs to see each other, to be in contact, and we do it sensibly…with masks, with fresh air, following guidelines, because more that needing to be with each other, we need to take care of each other.
Casual observance indicates that people are getting more lax with mask-wearing and social distancing. We are blessed with a beautiful, rural environment that has allowed us to get out and enjoy nature without meeting too many people. In our towns, we see people out walking regularly—alone or with their family members—and there is no need to wear a mask. Our restaurants have been providing curbside take-out to keep themselves afloat and we have been enjoying some semblance of normalcy by supporting them. As things begin to loosen up with New Hampshire’s Governor’s 2.0 announcement, retail shops are able to re-open on May 11th if they follow guidelines. Like many of you, I have people in my life who are vulnerable and I do not want to unwittingly transmit the virus to them. So I will open up the shop doors for people to come in, following the guidelines that make sense in my small space. Starting May 14th, I will open the doors on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 10:30 to 5:00, requesting that traveling companions wait outside on the bench or in the car, that patrons wear a mask, that we have no more than two customers at a time browsing while maintaining our social distancing. To protect my customers, I will wear a mask, wash my hands between transactions, and provide hand-sanitizer. However, I will also still provide curbside pick-up, phone, on-line, and email ordering. I will also accommodate individuals Monday through Wednesday by appointment and continue to schedule Zoom Yarn Tastings and classes. We have kept the cases in northern New Hampshire low by following the rules. Let’s continue to protect each other through our vigilance: stay safe by social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and yes, wearing masks.
Why do I feel like I should be driving around in an open-top Ford Fairlane, cruising into the local car hop? Something about the slower pace as I parked to pick up curbside a Jigsaw puzzle, then crossed the street to the market to pick up some meat, made me feel a little out-of-time, a little back-to-the-future-ish. The yarn shop is definitely an amalgam of the old world and the new. You can’t get more “tribal,” as a friend described it, than knitting. Archeologists recently unearthed yarn dating from 41,000 to 52,000 years ago (3 ply, apparently). Yet, we are meeting and I am teaching knitting on Zoom—quite effectively. So here we are. I’m teaching a mukluks class this Thursday, beginning knitting on Saturday mornings, a lace top next Thursday. We are having Yarn Tastings (sharing projects) and book club. I am taking orders and offering curbside pickups on Thursdays and Saturdays from 12-4. Check out the class schedule on loveyarnshop.com or on Loveyarnshop’s Facebook events.
I must say, the lack of traffic on the street and in the air, and the more people out walking, is a pleasant change to our hurry-up, I-want-it-yesterday lifestyle. I hope that our adherence to new restrictions is having the desired affect of “flattening out the curve” of the Covid-19 virus. My shop is closed—but don’t worry—only as long as necessary. I’m trying not to be offended that I am considered a “non-essential” business. Ouch. I understand that non-knitters and non-crocheters don’t understand how essential a small business like mine is; we know the only way we can survive this pandemic is if we have the next project lined up. That being said, I am doing my part to keep us connected. I have a Zoom Yarn Tasting on April 3rd at 5:00 (first Friday of the month due to Good Friday on the second Friday). I am available for private lessons with Zoom, and, of course, I will talk you through via phone any knitting or crocheting trouble you are having. I will also mail anything you need. I know the online store can be frustrating, especially on a phone, so sometimes a call is quicker: 603-869-2600 or 603-616-9249. If I don’t pick up, please leave a message. The online store does not keep patterns and needles and some of the yarns that have resale restrictions on them, so a phone call is needed for those. Let’s keep in touch and spend this precious time cultivating a healthy lifestyle that may change our priorities for the rest of our lives.
No March Madness? No Premier League? No cruise? No trip to Italy? No visiting my husband in the nursing home? No visiting my elderly parents? No concert? No fundraiser? The list of cancellations grows every day. As the efforts to prevent Covid-19 from spreading like it did in China and Italy, we are undergoing a paradigm shift—a radical change in the way we view our lives and our activities. Restaurants are offering curbside pick-up, meetings are via Skype, people are staying home and pulling out the jigsaw puzzles or binging on “The Crown” or another series they were formerly too busy to watch. All of a sudden people have time for what had been previously neglected. “I guess I’ll go through those old pictures,” my sister-in-law said. “I’ll work on those electrical outlets,” my husband said. One friend noted that this is perfect for introverts: no need to make excuses for staying at home and reading a book. No need to feel guilty for missing that fundraising dinner. Everyone understands. For us knitters and crocheters, we’ve been given a pass to settle into a project: old project, new project, design for a project, arranging yarns for a project. It’s all good. And although this is the season many usually travel due to mud season in the north and school breaks all over the world, this is also a good season to sit back and take stock. The snow has receded, but the ground is still too hard to rake, so no point in worrying about the yard for a few weeks. The refreshingly long days give you hours to think about who you are, what you are doing, and what you want to do—once everything returns to normal. So take a deep breath, pull a book off the shelf or your knitting from the basket, and take advantage of this temporary shift in your life. Oh, and the yarn shop is still open and I’m ready to teach you to knit.
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!