In Case of Yarn Emergency, call Fiberworks!

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Bye-bye, PA, and hello OH! Pin #6 has dropped into the Dayton area at 1350A North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek, where you’ll find Fiberworks!

FF&WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

FW: You may be sorry you asked! My current shop took a long time coming to be. I had planned to spend my life teaching French in a small college somewhere, but a 3-day workshop in spinning and natural dyeing led me down a different path. When we moved to Albuquerque the following year, I connected with Las Arañas Spinners and Weavers, and I joined a cooperative of painters, potters, silversmiths, and weavers who operated a shop in Santa Fé. After finding that my handspun yarns were a big success, I helped form Textile Crafts Cooperative, a shop in Albuquerque’s Old Town. When we moved to Omaha, it seemed natural to find a group of fiber artists, stained glass artists, painters, potters, and woodworkers and open Twenty Talents Gallery to sell our work. I also had a home studio where I was spinning, teaching, and selling spinning wheels, fibers, and related books and equipment.

When we moved to the Dayton area five years later, we purposely bought a house that had a large room with direct access from the outside that could serve as a studio/shop. I continued selling my handspun yarn at arts festivals and to knitting shops around the country, and began to carry more brands of carding and spinning equipment, dyes, and wooden knitting needles and crochet hooks. It was wonderful to be able to be home with my children when they were young, but I began daydreaming about having a “real store”.

One Sunday when I was 59, in an adult ed. session, I heard a psychologist speak about “following your dreams”. On my way home, I passed a storefront with a “FOR RENT” sign in the window, stopped, wrote down the phone number, and called the next day. When I discovered that I could afford the rent and no lease was required, I was in seventh heaven. I figured I would turn 60 whether I took a chance or not.

It was fun to create a cozy space where knitters could congregate and enjoy “kindred spirits”, especially on Tuesday and Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights for Knit ‘N’ Knibble. It quickly became obvious that stocking only my handspun yarns in addition to spinning supplies was not feasible, so I began meeting with yarn reps and succumbing to the charms of gorgeous yarns.

After 4 years at that location when we couldn’t possibly have stuffed in another skein of yarn, the city decided to widen the street in front of the shop, taking away our entire parking lot. Our new location, at the crossroads of the two major streets in Beavercreek, is twice the size (but four times the rent) and required a two-year lease (which was beyond scary). Now, almost seven years later, we have expanded into the shop next door, which we have devoted primarily to spinning, dyeing, and felting supplies. Our main room is brimming with yarns from Araucania, Cascade, Crystal Palace, Debbie Bliss, Ella Rae, Hi-Koo, Jojoland, Juniper Moon Farm, Louisa Harding, Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Misti, Noro, Opal, Queensland, Schoppel Wolle, Sirdar, Universal, and Wonderland, as well as notions, books, patterns, and needles galore. We’ve recently added several styles of Fair Trade African Market Baskets-perfect for transporting every size project.

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FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?

FW: We are open 7 days a week and try to provide a comfortable home away from home with a wide variety of everything a knitter, crocheter, spinner, or felter could want. Deb K., who is here every weekday, provides expert help with every aspect of knitting and crochet, and has a soft spot in her heart for the well-behaved pets who sometimes visit our shop. Her fingers are never still, and she knits most of the shop models. Arlene loves to addict willing victims to spinning, using a variety of spindles and wheels, aided by the lure of luscious hand-dyed fibers (from Frabjous Fibers, of course).

FF&WY: What do you love about your town?

FW: Being close to I-75 and I-70, we receive many visitors travelling both north-south and east-west. Many stop here in the Dayton area to visit sites important to aviation history. Some come because it is the home of Esther Price candy.  Our shop is located between two large malls, the Mall at Fairfield Commons, and the Greene, both with many upscale stores and boutiques, and many dining options. One of the best things about the Greater Dayton area is its support of fibers. If you visit the websites of the Dayton Knitting Guild, the Miami Valley Knitting Guild, the Greater Dayton Crochet Guild, and the Weavers Guild of Miami Valley, you will find meetings, workshops, meet-ups, and knit-ins almost every day of the week. There are no fewer than seven yarn shops in the area, and all are thriving. If you come on the third weekend in September, you can add to your stash at A Wool Gathering, a large (but still manageable) fiber festival north of Yellow Springs.

FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs?

FW: We have “Knit Knite” on the 4th Friday of the month (or a week earlier, if too close to a holiday) with a pot luck dinner starting around 6:30, and lasting until the last person leaves. A “Lunch Bunch” come regularly on Thursdays to knit, chat, and order lunch. Sunday afternoons are also a popular time for knitters to gather here.

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FF&WY: What’s your best “Yarn Emergency” story?

FW: Since I know what it’s like to have broken a needle or run out of yarn when the LYS is closed, I have my cell phone number listed on the front door under “In Case of Yarn Emergency,” and it’s on the answering machine’s message as well. I live only 7 minutes from the shop, and am happy to help out in emergencies. One year during the first week in January when we close to count everything in the shop, I got a call from a woman who was traveling through the area, had run out of yarn for a shawl she was knitting, and saw on the yarn company’s website that we carried that yarn. She was almost in tears when she arrived and discovered that we were closed for inventory, but ecstatic when I opened the door and she found that we even had the same dye lot.

And THIS (omg, Arlene just sent me this message to add to best-ever yarn emergency, and it’s pretty good): We just had an “interesting” yarn emergency. My son and I were at the shop tonight after closing at 5 to try to organize and price a large shipment of needles seemingly packed by gorillas, when we received an urgent phone call to see if we were open. I said ” come on down” since we would be there for quite a while longer. It turned out to be a very pregnant customer who was already three centimeters dilated and wanted to finish a beautiful shawl. With only five rows to go, she had run out of Malabrigo sock yarn. Needless to say, I wound that skein into a ball in record time!

FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?

FW: The Eyelet Shawl pattern has been very popular in the Cheshire Cat mini-skeins and the Eyelet Cowl pattern in March Hare. We all know that the most popular colors are the ones used in the model garments. 😀

FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand?

FW: That would be like having to name my favorite child! My favorite brand is always one that uses high-quality natural fibers and has a marvelously “squishy” feel. (That sounds suspiciously like Wonderland Yarn, doesn’t it?)

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FF&WY: We love hilarious, heartbreaking or hilarious AND heartbreaking knitting stories. Entertain us!

FW: Sorry, this knitting story is only heartbreaking…..One of our customers went to a great deal of effort and expense to knit a beautiful afghan for her brother and sister-in-law. When she went to visit, she was somewhat upset not to see it in the living room or family room. The real blow came when she found that it was being used as their dog’s bed!!

Wow, thank you so much Arlene! So far, your yarn emergency stories take the cake. And readers, you all know what to do when you’re in the Dayton area: visit Fiberworks!

Next week, we’ll be visiting Yarn It and Haberdashery in Grandview Heights. Hope to see you there!

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Pulling in at Main Street Yarn!

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Today, we’ve landed in Rebersburg, PA, at Main Street Yarn, located at 121 E Main St.

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FF & WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

MSY: Main Street Yarn will be celebrating its 3rd anniversary on April 11. We are partnered with my husband’s shop, Forefathers Books Shop, in a former brick bank building in Rebersburg, PA, which is a very small town in Centre County — definitely a destination stop. Keith and I have kept the integrity of the building from the high pressed tin ceiling and gorgeous bank vault in the book shop area to the crash bar bank door which is the entry from the parking lot to Main Street Yarn. We looked for several years for an appropriate location that would be large enough for both shops and sturdy enough to hold over 30,000 hardback books. We work together in the business, although Keith is there much more than I, because I continue to work fulltime for U.S. Senator Bob Casey in a regional office in Bellefonte, PA. Keith or one of his staff handles yarn shop business when I am not available. Over the years there have been a few texts or quick telephone calls to clarify something. Fortunately, I have very understanding customers.
I learned to knit at age 4 and stopped at age 6! I picked it up again in college in the early ’70s but moved to counted cross stitch for 20 years. During a break in University employment I went to work in a local yarn shop and loved it. I learned so much — including how to knit socks, which are my knitting passion. I haven’t stopped knitting and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Kim and Charlie
FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?
MSY: My portion of the building was renovated with white walls and natural ceiling lighting to show off the colors of the yarn. I try to keep the atmosphere homey from the electric fireplace to coffee and snacks which are always available on Saturdays. I am an avid fan of hand-dyed yarns and I estimate at least 60% of my inventory is hand-dyed fingering weight yarns with a bit of DK and Worsted tossed in for variety. Some of my customers favorite dyers are Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns (mini skein sets are growing in popularity); KnitMona; Unplanned Peacock; Meadowcroft; Nooch Fibers; and Wandering Wool. The latter was the first hand-dyed in the shop and it will always be a staple (along with Wonderland Yarns, of course!)
Getting known is difficult in a rural area, so I started setting up at local/regional fiber shows. I love meeting new people, “selling” my yarns, and building a customer base. Each is a different venue and often different people, but I’ve never had a bad time at a fiber show! My newsletter is  gaining readership as is the Facebook page. If someone wants to sign up for the newsletter go to the website and register. Also, for those who are on the internet but do not have a personal Facebook page, my shop page scrolls in the middle of the website, so you can keep up with the latest.
This year I hope to do 5 shows and the first is tomorrow — For The Love of Fiber in Bellefonte, PA. It is hosted by the Centre County Knitting Guild and is a very nice event. I have some new items for shoppers and lots of mini-skein sets. I will be displaying WIP samples to provide ideas and insight into how to work with a mini-skein set. I recently wrote a post on my blog Sock-Crazy and several shops have shared it.
I will again be doing a Knit in Public event this summer and hope to see growth from last year. We have lots of fun and as always, there are door prizes.
FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs?
MSY: The Penns Valley Area Knitters, a group I formed 10 years ago, meets in the shop two Saturdays a month. It is a very casual group and not a dues collecting organization. We share projects, offer help to each other, and snack. I always make sure there are goodies for everyone. They can range from cookies and punch in warmer weather to dip and crackers along with soup in the winter. I have my first KAL planned but can’t reveal quite yet (however it does involve yarn from your company!) We strongly believe in charity knitting and annually donate at least 100 hats, scarfs, mitts, mittens, lap robes, etc. to the local community outreach center. They are distributed with the Christmas food baskets and are so appreciate. It warms our hearts knowing we are helping others ward off cold temperatures.
FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?
MSY: The majority of my customers are sock and shawl knitters so fingering weight yarns are a large percentage of my inventory. Superwash merino with a nylon additive and great yardage makes them smile each time they look at a new indie dyer product. Many are also hat and cowl knitters and like more commercial yarns for those projects, although the multi-color worsted weight yarn I recently purchased from Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns is very popular.  I carry a nice selection of commercial yarns from Berroco, Plymouth and Universal yarn companies. These are good, solid basics which everyone needs at some point in their knitting.
I continue to knit shop models which help people with ideas. I have learned that creativity needs a little push sometimes and I am trying to help people with color combination and pattern choices.
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FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand (yes, this is a trick question)? 🙂 
MSY: Personally, I’m hooked on your Mini Skein Packs in Cheshire Cat fingering. I also really like yarns from KnitMona and Wandering Wool.
Thank you so much, Kim!
Next stop, as we knit on down the road is: Natural Stitches in Pittsburg, PA.