We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Needles for Nothin' and Your Yarn for Free

The next line to this ditty would be: "I want my LYS."

The yarn store, where I've worked for nearly nine months now, is closing. Have I mentioned this? Today is our last day open.

It is, in the long run, as they say, a good thing.


It is.

I know most of you (those who haven't already, with your super-intense Jack Bauer-like abilities, sensed that there's been a sale going for three weeks now) are probably thinking, "A yarn store closing? How could a yarn store be closing?" You are probably saying to yourself, "How is that possible, a yarn store, the most sacred of places, would be going out of business?"

It's money, y'all. Not enough money in the town to keep our little shop afloat.

You gasp, I know. You say to yourself, "No! That can't be true! Anyone with a yarn store would have to be a millionaire, how could they not? I know what I spend on a monthly/weekly/daily basis in my LYS. I know what my friends spend in our LYS. I know there's got to be a reason my VISA weeps softly every time I pull it out of my purse. I know I must be bringing something home, there's a mountain of yarn in my house right now, in fact, I've not seen Fuffly since that last trip to my LYS when all the wool was marked down 20%, but even if she is stuck behind that wall of gorgeous fiber, she's got to be happy, for goodness's sake there's Cascade, Brown Sheep, and some really nice hand-dyed in there!"

You take a deep breath. You calm down. You remember your own fabulous stash. That feeling of dreamy contentment sets in. And then you continue musing. "So how could a store go out of business? I'd be a millionaire! There'd be so much business I'd be beating the customers away with a stick. Cash money, baby!

"Well maybe not a millionaire, I mean I'd have to buy some yarn for myself and that would eat a little into my profit, but mainly, except for that yarn- and that yarn- and that- and that- I'd make a prof- no, that one too- and- HEY, YOU, GET AWAY FROM MY YARN!!!"

More deep breathing. Maybe some thoughts on those slick new Addi Turbos you bought last week, and you'd realize, yarn store owning is a slippery slope. One minute you're pushing free point protectors on a friend you've know since grade school, the next you've barricaded yourself into your downtown shop, patterns books strapped to your body, Lantern Moons in each hand, acid-free yarn dye swabbed across your face, yelling, "FREEEEEEEEDDDOM" at anyone who happens to be crossing the street.

Not that that is what happened in this case.

Here's what I think is the truth: there aren't that many people crafting these days.

You gasp. You're bewildered. Harriet knits. Donna knits. Polly crochets, your mother turns out afghans like it's the eighties and she's a top-selling cocaine producer, Jane, Hillary, Lisa- all knitters!

I think, as knitters, we're a little deluded- No, not deluded, sorry, wrong word. I would never call a knitter deluded. I know you're going to make all eighteen sweaters you've bought yarn for, neatly bagged and organized in your craft/guest bedroom (hey Miz Knotty!) and I know those eight- oh, ten, now? that's right you're doing Clapotis. Oh, and you cast-on another pair of socks? which ones? oo, Baudelaire, I LOVE those- what kind of yarn are you- hold on- what we were talking about? Oh, OK, unfinished projects. Sorry. I know those ten U.F.O.s you're going to finish any day now. Really! We knitters are a sensible, rational group who only make thoughtful, reasonable decisions, always factoring money, time, and the possession of only two hands into the equation.

So it's not deluded exactly. I think we're choosy, that's the word. We tend to surround ourselves with others who share our passion. I mean, it makes sense right? If you're an alcoholic, where do you go, the local hardware store? No! You go to a bar! Knitters are the same way. When we could be shopping for groceries, working on our gardens, cleaning our homes, feeding our families, are we? No! We're at the local yarn store, right where we belong. Because that's sensible.

Whether you're a person who loves miles and miles of garter stitch scarves, living a "when I run out of yarn, I'm done" rules-to-the wind type life (hey Mum Knitter!) or you're not satisfied unless you're working a pair of Magic Loop, two-at-once, toe-up, Fair Isle, with a few pattern variations because you felt the short-row heel worked much better than the heel flap called for by the pattern author, socks (hey Knitty Yoda!) you gravitate towards others who share similar characteristics, namely a pair of needles or a hook in hand.

My point? We spend so much time with the three or five or fifty others who share our love of fiber, we forget that three or five or fifty does not an entire world make. And until we can bring more people over to the fold (or the path or the dark side- whatever you like to call it), we're still vastly outnumbered.

And this, as we wind out way back to the point, makes it difficult for a little store such as my LYS to stay in business. And while we have a base of hearty, never-fear-there's-always-more-yarn-to-buy knitters (some are reading this very blog- hey y'all!), they can't, though they try, keep us in business.

So our store closes, the store owner takes a deep breath of relief and sadness and our local knitters lose their temple.

I beseech you, wherever you may be, stop by your yarn store and let them know you care. Pick out that pattern book you've wanted forever, grab a box of stitch markers, maybe that flash pair of rosewood needles you've wanted, a bit of yarn and start something new. Do it for The Needle Works. Do it for your LYS. Do it for- Hang on, am I trying to give knitters a reason to go buy yarn? Oh for God's sake. You stopped reading hours ago, didn't you? I mentioned a sale, and you grabbed your bag and headed out the door. HANG ON! There's more!

When you've put together those items, I ask you, I beseech you, I implore you- find a good friend, an aunt, a neighbor, that woman there on the street- and teach her to knit. Or crochet. Or quilt. Or sew. And, hey, it doesn't have to be a woman. It's time the men start pulling their weight in this game we call crafting. Catch a group (a sporting event is the best place to find them) and assure them, all men are knitting, those football players, oh, sure, OF COURSE, they knit, just not on the field, it might be dangerous, and the yarn would get muddy. Now, here's a beer. And your remote. Let me show you a long-tail cast-on. See? You'd have those needles flying. I think you see my point. It's time we take action, beyond trying to single-handedly keep our local stores in business. We've got to get others involved, get moving, make fliers, start groups-

You're already knitting aren't you? You've stopped reading, you're knitting, you've got Knitty Gritty going in the background.

Well. I tried.



Blogger Ms. Knotty said...

I love it! You did try and you tried your darndest!! Thank you for all you effort and emotional energy.

If you ever find yourself in need of a "fix" I think I got cha covered! I plan to reorganize my stash tonight and take a photo of all of it. YIKES!


3:20 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Awww...that's kind of sad...I'm feeling for all the local knitters in your town right now. My LYS is five minutes from my house, but I rarely get there these days. My child is a major yarn hugger and for some reason, the ladies who work there frown on that :( There loss, I say- he puts a little magic into it with each squeeze :) They're just plain weird people in Miami...except for me of course, I'm strange.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I think I'm still in denial. I'm sure that on Tuesday or Thursday next week B, F, and I will head on over there and chat with you while winding yarn.
Whatever will we do? Wherever will we go?

I can't wait to see Renee's stash pic. I think she'll need a panoramic lens. ;)

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well hon, Burlington has always been notorious for lack of folk interested in the hand arts, maybe because until recently, it has always basically been a textile town. Maybe they worked with it all day long, they don't want to work with it(sewing,cutting,knitting machines,etc) again when they get home and they have housework and dinner and homework with the kids when they get home from work too ;),there have been a quilt shop,paint shops, and various other individual craft shops,(the cross stitch shop still exists) Basically, I think Burlington is dead for major serious hand craft folk,quilting,knitting, etc. We just have to go else where now as we did before to get the good stuff. There needs to be new blood in the customer section in order to keep a good craft shop here. Since I have been in the area '81, and even though there has been an influx of folk from out of the state, the growth for serious textile handcrafts has been way too SLOW! Hope to see u in a yarn store somewhere, someday! Terry T.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

By the way, Bruce really enjoys it when you put pictures of the dogs up. We haven't seen any lately and he's getting a little anxious!

8:26 AM  

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