Spud says (the blog)

Archive for ‘Featured Shops’

July 25, 2013

Interview with Knitche

Today, dear readers, our LYS interview takes us a bit closer to home in the good ol’ Midwestern U. S.! We are visiting Knitche, which is located in Downers Grove, a suburb just west of Chicago, Illinois.

Knitche Storefront

Here we are, right outside Knitche! Love the chocolate brown and aqua colors! Photo © Knitche

Let’s check in with Kathy Ticho, owner of Knitche! Here she is (second from the right) with the rest of the staff at Knitche, all poised and ready to help you find your knitting (k)ni(t)che!

Knitche Staff

From left to right: Janet, Edie, Anne, Kathy, and Tracey! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: Kathy, thanks so much for being here today! *enthusiastically shakes her hand* I am excited to get started, as we’ve got a lot of fun ground to cover today. I love your shop name, it’s so clever!

Kathy: Thanks! The by-line for our name reads “…find yours in Downers Grove,” which alludes to the word play we intended for our shop name. ;)

Neighbor Jillian: So cute. How long has Knitche been open?

Kathy: Knitche opened in July 2004 on Main Street here in Downers Grove, though last August we got the “7-year Knitche” and moved across the street to our current location, an historic stand-alone building that was originally a saddle and harness shop in 1897. We’ve maintained a few equestrian-themed fixtures, like our carousel horse mascot Black Purlie, in homage to the building’s past.

Black Purlie

Knitche’s shop mascot is a carousel horse named Black Purlie! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: That is very cool. *stage whisper* I see Black Purlie is even doing a bit of marketing work, serving as a sturdy hanger for colorful projects! :D Tell me more about your shop and the types of options I would fine upon entering.

Kathy: Well, we strive to create a “niche” for all fiber enthusiasts, providing an oasis of color, texture, sound, smell, and taste. In addition to being a full-service yarn shop offering instruction in hand knitting, spinning, and crochet, we also have an in-house espresso bar and serve light sweet and savory fare.

Neighbor Jillian: *eyes get wide* Wait. I don’t mean to gloss over all the bits about yarn crafts, but did you just tell me you have an espresso bar inside your shop??

Kathy: I sure did!

Intelligentsia Coffee Shop

Not only does Knitche carry all of the Spud & Chloë lines, they have an espresso bar inside the shop. (Can I move in?) Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: Indeed, there it is! Imagine how speedy I would be with a bit of espresso before starting a project! I’d be done in no time!

Kathy: Haha, yes! Sometimes that little kick of energy is helpful.

Neighbor Jillian: Let’s talk a bit about how you arrived at this point. How did your interest in yarn and yarn crafts develop, and how did your passion for these activities lead you to opening a shop?

Kathy: After my second child arrived, I took a break from my job as an air pollution enforcement officer with the U.S. EPA to spend more time with my son and daughter. I taught myself to knit, thinking it would be the perfect activity to do while waiting in the school pick-up line and at various activities that the kids became involved in. I liked feeling productive and creative while still being able to interact and participate in my childrens’ lives. I frequently met with other moms at a local coffee shop to knit during music and sporting events. It was then that I started to think that perhaps I could create a similar coffee shop atmosphere, but one that catered specifically to the hand knitting enthusiast by merging these symbiotic passions. Although I am the first in my family to become directly involved in fiber arts, my mother is a graphic artist (she designs all the shop’s logos) and probably passed her love of color and design on to me.

Knitche Logo

Knitche’s shop logo! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: Absolutely! You and your mom seem to have the same loves, they just express themselves in a different way, whether it’s through yarn or graphics.

Kathy: And even before I showed the slightest inclination in this area, my grandmother willed her antique Finnish spinning wheel to me, possibly predicting that I’d head down this path someday. I keep the wheel at the shop on permanent display.

Neighbor Jillian: What a fortuitous gift! Do you have much time for knitting for your own enjoyment these days?

Kathy: Although sometimes I’d love to just be a customer in my own shop rather than do all the myriad tasks necessary to keep a small business running smoothly, I do enjoy helping someone find the perfect project or yarn, witnessing the excitement of a grandparent-to-be picking out a sweet baby sweater, and playing a small role in the warm and lasting relationships forged around the Knitche farmhouse table.

Knitche Interior

Inside Knitche! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: I bet you play a bigger role in forging those relationships than you realize, as I am sure your shop is an integral part of the crafting community in your area.

Kathy: Definitely. I feel that our store truly functions as a community service center in that we teach new skills, provide social interaction, offer counseling (not really, but it seems that way), and beautify our surroundings, one f.o. at a time!

Neighbor Jillian: Absolutely! How about you? Who was most influential for you along this journey?

Kathy: I’ve met so many helpful people in this business and have swapped and shared ideas with them. I feel that the vast majority of folks involved in the fiber arts want to see everyone succeed and are very generous with their time and advice. In particular, when I was first doing research to open my shop nine years ago, I remember reaching out to Kit and John at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas in Washington, who were incredibly supportive and informative. I have since been asked for similar input by other would-be shop owners and I hope I have been able to “pay it forward.” I had the pleasure of seeing Kit again at a recent yarn trade show and she’s just as kind-hearted and inspirational as ever!

Neighbor Jillian: I have also experienced a feeling of camaraderie with fellow knitters and believe that we do all want each other to succeed and share in this hobby that gives us such joy. We like passing that joy on to others! Let’s talk about the activities that help to forge friendships within your shop! I hear you are doing some neat things with the Seeing Stars Blanket?

Kathy: We carry practically the full line of Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas yarns and patterns, but I have to admit that I hadn’t personally worked with the Sweater yarn much until we decided to offer the Seeing Stars Blanket as a class here at Knitche. Now it’s one of my favorite yarns and we carry the full 29-color range. So soft in the hand, the perfect weight, year-round wearability and, oh, the colors!

Spud & Chloë Wall

The Spud & Chloë wall (that’s right–a whole wall!) inside Knitche! Photo © Knitche

Kathy: I’ve always loved the crazy, colorful look of a patchwork throw and this blanket has struck the right balance between kitschy and classy. It’s so fun to see everyone’s strategies play out, some opting for a more subdued palette of limited colors in a systematic formation and others, like myself, throwing caution to the wind and letting chance play a starring role. The join-as-you-go hexagons are simple enough for even a beginning level crocheter and the project has broad appeal because you don’t necessarily have to commit to a certain size when you start. Some students have opted to make it a table runner, while others get really motivated and want a full bedspread. My only problem is that now I have this unrealistic urge to redo my bedroom entirely in white so that this blanket would be an amazing focal point!

Spud & Chloë Seeing Stars Blanket Class

A picture from the Spud & Chloë Seeing Stars Blanket class! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: Yes! Modular yarn crafting is a lot of fun because you can start out small and then go as big as you want! When you combine that with all the color choices of Spud & Chloë Sweater, it makes for a grand time of experimentation and exploration. I bet some class-goers surprised themselves with how far they took their project! So, we know you own a yarn shop, but do you have a personal collection of yarns, fabrics, textiles, other crafty-type things?

Kathy: I believe my collection is probably my shop itself. I take a lot of care in sourcing yarns, books, patterns, and accessories, often times picking up new lines during my travels abroad. Your question reminds me of an encounter I had several years back with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. A few of us from the shop had gone to see the Yarn Harlot speak at a local bookstore. At the end of her presentation, we all went up to meet her and the discussion turned to stash. As everyone was shamefully admitting the generous size of their personal yarn stash, I piped in, “I really don’t have much of a stash,” to which my friend remarked, “Kathy, you own a yarn shop!” Stephanie astutely noted, “Honey, you are in complete denial!”

Seeing Stars Hexagons

Just a few of the colorful “stars” made during the Seeing Stars class at Knitche! Photo © Knitche

Neighbor Jillian: Hehe, that is pretty funny! It is fun when others add a perspective you had never considered before! Let’s close today with a couple fun tidbits. If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Kathy: Who has time to read? I’m too busy knitting! But, I suppose I wouldn’t mind being Lucy Honeychurch from E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View. Being lost in Florence without a guidebook sounds very appealing, as long as I have my knitting bag in tow!

Neighbor Jillian: Indeed! As long as we have our knitting, there is no adventure too big for us! And, speaking of adventure, if you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Kathy: I think I’d like to be a superhero of my own making—some sort of octopus-like creature that has eight sets of arms to knit or crochet eight different projects at the same time, coupled with advanced brain power to keep track of all of them and the ability to morph back into a normal two-armed human being at will, so that no one would be the wiser and everyone would be amazed at my output!

Neighbor Jillian: Hehehe, I think a lot of knitters, including Cousin Katie, could relate to the desire to have more arms for more projects!

Octo-Kathy

Able to complete dozens of projects in a single evening… it’s Octo-Kathy!!

Neighbor Jillian: Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with me! It was a lot of fun to interview you and get to know you better, and it’s made even more fun by the fact that we got to meet you at TNNA this year!

Kathy in Moscow Coat

Kathy tried on the Blue Sky Alpacas Moscow Coat at TNNA this year! Photo © Knitche

This is Neighbor Jillian, signing off on another interactive and delightful interview! Dear readers, even if you don’t live near Knitche, you can keep up with this spunky shop by liking them on Facebook, heading to their website, following them on Twitter, and joining their Ravelry group. (And if you are an octopus, you can keep up with all those places at the same time!)

Window Decor for Spring

What a cool display for summer! (That is some big knitting on big needles!) Photo © Knitche


The Details

Pattern: Seeing Stars Blanket
Designer: Lindsay Ingram
Size: Width: 55 (70, 75, 85)
• Length: 56½ (90½, 90½, 90½)
Needle: Size G (4mm) hook, or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn: Spud & Chloë Sweater
Pattern available at the Spud & Chloë Pattern Store

May 30, 2013

Interview with Clay Wood & Cotton

Logo

Clay Wood & Cotton logo. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

For this interview, we’re headed over to Beacon, New York, near the Hudson River to talk to Kristy from Clay Wood & Cotton! This whole area has a long and fascinating history, especially surrounding the Revolutionary War, which is not surprising since  Beacon is a very old area of New York, founded in the early 1700s. (Originally, it was actually two villages, but they were merged exactly a century ago; coincidentally, two weeks ago marked the centennial of the town!)

Beacon Falls

Falls on Fishkill Creek. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Kristy, thanks so much for being here today!

Kristy: Absolutely, it’s my pleasure!

Kristy

Kristy from Clay Wood & Cotton! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Let’s get started, as I have a feeling this will be a fun interview. :) But first… I must ask…

Street View

Standing right outside Clay Wood & Cotton. What awaits us inside?? Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: What’s that I see in the lower left corner next to the Spud & Chloë sign? Is that… an enormous pair of knitting needles? *squints*

Kristy: It sure is! :D

Giant Knitting Needles

Love the quirky giant needles! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Haha, excellent attention-grabbing for the front window! So, we talked a bit about Beacon above, but tell me more about your shop’s neighborhood and how you chose it.

Kristy: Beacon is a small town in New York’s Hudson Valley that has really reinvented itself in the past decade or so. It used to be extremely economically depressed and overrun with drugs. Then, artists starting moving up from the city and small galleries started opening up. When the Dia:Beacon (a contemporary art museum) opened up in an old factory, many more artists moved here, more galleries opened, and the tourists started coming, too! Now there are young families, as well as artists, moving here, and the row of galleries up Main Street is being broken up by more shops and new restaurants. We feel like Clay Wood & Cotton is the perfect shop for Beacon, since what we sell is essentially functional art.

Entrance

Shop entrance. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Great segue, as I was just about to ask you to go into detail about what your shop sells, as its name tells me it is probably a varied selection!

Kristy: When we opened our shop in the Fall of 2009, the name was a way to reference the products we opened the shop with: ceramics, kitchen textiles, and wooden cutting boards. We’ve since grown a lot to include handmade jewelry, greeting cards, and wool. Last year we moved down the block to a space double the previous size. The move let us bring in yarn, patterns, and kits.

Interior

Shop interior. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: It sounds like there is something for everyone, especially for people who appreciate and enjoy handcrafted, unique items!

Kristy: With the exception of the yarn and craft supplies, nearly every item we sell at Clay Wood & Cotton is made by hand. When you buy handmade, you’re supporting an independent artist and you are receiving something that has been made with love and care from start to finish. Your money doesn’t go to a huge corporation, it goes directly to the artisan or craftperson who created your new mug, scarf, napkin, or print. Buying handmade allows these artists to continue to thoughtfully create one-of-a-kind goods. Additionally, many handmade artists use recycled, repurposed, or eco-friendly materials, which makes buying handmade items good for the planet, too.

Flying Cat

A place for handmade! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Absolutely! Since yarn and patterns are a new addition to your shop, tell us about the fun activities you did to introduce Spud & Chloë! I saw an adorable flier you guys made, as well as an announcement on your web site. What made you decide to bring Spud & Chloë into your shop?

S&C Window Display Exterior

Spud & Chloë front window display as seen from the exterior! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Kristy: When we brought in yarn last year, Blue Sky Alpacas was at the top of our list. We love having it here and thought hosting a Spud & Chloë yarn tasting would be the perfect way to introduce those yarns to the area. And the beginning of Spring seemed like the perfect time to introduce the wool/cotton blend and, of course, the bright new colors are just what everyone wants after a cold, drab winter. We turned the front display into all Spud & Chloë and held a yarn tasting with treats and passed out project bags with some goodies inside. It was a hit! We had a great turnout and definitely created a few new Spud & Chloë addicts. (In fact, the other night at our knit circle, I glanced up and noticed that EVERY SINGLE person was either knitting with Blue Sky Alpacas or Spud & Chloë yarn. Made me smile!)

S&C Window Display Interior

Spud & Chloë front window display as seen from the interior! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: Haha, that is excellent! We love to hear that. Is the knit circle held at the shop?

Kristy: Actually, we’re now right next door to the coffeehouse, and that is where we meet up on Monday nights to knit/crochet and hang out.

Jillian: That sounds fun!

Kristy: Yes, my husband recently learned to knit so he could join in on the fun (though it helps that the coffeehouse also serves beer…)!

Jillian: Hmm… maybe that’s how I can get my husband to try knitting or crochet: just add beer! XD Speaking of knitting and crocheting, how did you become interested in yarn and yarn crafts?

Kristy: Well, I’ve always made things! In fact, I received my first sewing machine the Christmas I was five. But, I didn’t knit or crochet until after I moved to New York after art school in my early twenties. Growing up in Texas, I had never needed a scarf or winter coat before, but I suddenly found myself in need of not just a scarf and winter coat, but hats, mittens, and warm socks! So, of course I had to learn how to knit! I taught myself over a long weekend, and then a few years later taught myself how to crochet when I was commuting daily on the train (crochet seemed less intrusive to my seatmates). A decade later, a day doesn’t go by without some needle or hook time. Or both.

Knit Flowers

Knit flowers. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: We here at Spud & Chloë can relate! Cousin Katie and I definitely have needle and/or hook time as part of our daily routines. :) How did your passion for these activities lead you to opening a shop?

Kristy: The shop came about after I met my kindred spirit Kristen Couse in 2008. We met when we were both making and selling our work on the New York City craft fair circuit. She recently left to focus on her family, but she helped build a solid foundation of supporting and promoting handmade. Our backgrounds and experience as artists and crafters helped us set up an environment that focused on the needs of the independent makers whose work fills the shop.

Jillian: That is so cool! It is fun and inspiring to find a partner who has the same vision you do. Before we end our talk today, I just wanted to talk more about other interests you might have. Through our talks while planning this interview, you mentioned you were busy baking a strawberry pie! Sounds delish! Do you bake a lot?

Homemade Strawberry Pie

Kristy’s homemade strawberry pie! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Kristy: Oh, yes, I love to bake and cook. I actually have an annual pie party/cookout at my house in the Fall (this year will be the sixth year). We end up with over 20 pies! You can imagine the reputation I have around town. (Plus, that’s the only way I can get my friends down in NYC to take the train up to visit—bribe them with pie.)

Jillian: The pie party sounds amaaazing!! What fun! :D I would totally travel long and far to experience that, so I’m not surprised your friends are willing to! Let’s continue the fun: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Kristy: Anne of Green Gables! It’s been years since I watched the mini-series, it’s probably time for a rewatch. Puffed sleeves and raspberry cordial and Gilbert Blythe… *sigh*

Knit Strawberries

Speaking of strawberries, these knit strawberries look good enough to eat! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: *also gives a dreamy sigh* Haha, oh, gosh, the raspberry cordial! XD One of the funniest scenes ever. Anne of Green Gables is actually one of my favorite fictional characters, too. She is so spunky and strong-minded. Definitely one-of-a-kind! I smiled when you mentioned that Kristen is a kindred spirit because that is so something Ann-with-an-E of Green Gables would say! One last question before we close for today: If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Kristy: Hmmmm… this is a tough one… Maybe the ability to not have to sleep! Just imagine all the additional crafting time! Oh, yeah, and doing good deeds.

Interior

Look at all the colors and yarn! So pretty! Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

Jillian: *laughs* There’s a superpower I can relate to! If I didn’t have to devote so many hours to sleep, I could tackle even more crafty things! Kristy, I had such a good time talking with you! Thank you for being here and telling us all about you and your shop.

And thanks to our dear readers for being here today! If you want to learn more about Clay Wood & Cotton but aren’t close enough to visit in person, you can visit their website, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, check out their pins, and read their blog.

And, remember, if you own or visit a local yarn shop that is doing fun activities with Spud & Chloë yarns, let us know by emailing info@spudandchloe.com. We are always looking for more stores to interview!

 

Clay Wood & Cotton Sign

Shop sign. Photo © Clay Wood & Cotton

April 4, 2013

Interview with Yarnover Truck

Here I am, back in California for the third subject in our shop interview series! Usually, I like more variety in terms of locations, but I simply could not pass up the timely opportunity to write about this most unusual shop, which has just held its grand opening and may be traveling (you read that right: traveling!) to a town near you.

Yarnover Truck Logo

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Readers who are similar in age to me may remember the Bookmobile from our youth, which drove around local neighborhoods, lending books to children. I found many favorite paperbacks as a preteen scouring the Bookmobile’s shelves. Some years later, this idea seemed to have been applied to restaurants, and food trucks began to spring up all over, especially in downtown areas. I worked in Downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago, and at lunch time during the warmer months there were lines nearly a block long to buy food from some of these trucks! Well, buckle your seatbelt, because two intrepid women have taken this idea another step further, creating Yarnover Truck:

Yarnover Truck is your local yarn store on wheels, implementing the food truck business model and applying it to a mobile yarn store. The truck will make appearances at a variety of local events … throughout Southern California. Our goal is not only to sell yarn, but to increase awareness and provide needlearts education, with a focus on knitting and crocheting.

Curious? Me, too. Let’s put the pedal to the metal, and speed on over as quickly as we can so Maridee and Barbra can tell us how this incredible idea came to fruition!

Wait, wait, though. First we should get in the mood… how about Venice Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Southern California (I can see why!)?

Venice Beach

Photo © http://www.scottyphotos.com

Ahhhhhh… Okay, now we’re ready for adventure!

Neighbor Jillian: *knocks on Yarnover Truck door, then steps back a bit* Helloooooo?? Neighbor Jillian here to interview you for the Spud & Chloë blog!

The door pops open, and out come Maridee and Barbra, both waving at me to come on in!

Maridee and Barbra

Maridee is on the left, Barbra is on the right! Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: *mouth agape* Ladies, this is so fantastic! Gosh, I can hardly wait to talk to you about all of this. Let’s start at the beginning with your knitting histories.

Maridee: My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 12 years old. My first project was a set of granny square Christmas stockings that were black and pink instead of red and green! (I was a bit of a rebel, even at age 12.) Then, several years ago, I picked up the craft again and then discovered Ravelry. Oh, the joys of digital pattern downloads!! Through Ravelry I found a knit/crochet group that met near my home and that is how I met Barbra. Since joining the group, I have also learned to knit with their help and have been asked to show some of my coworkers how to do it.

Yarnover Truck Exterior

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Barbra: I taught myself to knit 11 years ago. Knitting had always been around while I was growing up, as my grandmother was an avid knitter. Although my grandmother is no longer with us, I am sure she is watching to make sure I don’t drop too many stitches. :)

Neighbor Jillian: Now we know how you met! And, while your story is all over your website and Ravelry group, I’m hoping you can go into more detail about how all this came about or perhaps share any other neat inside details?

Maridee: The idea came about because I was thinking about opening a yarn store. I had come up with a great name for the shop if I could find a spot in Hollywood to have it: Yarn Over Hollywood! I thought it would be great to decorate the shop using many of the photos of actresses knitting while on set. I mentioned my idea to Barbra because I knew she was already working with many LYS’s in our area, helping them with their social media. Barbra mentioned to her knitting group at work that I was looking into opening a store and one of them suggested we use a truck. Well, Barbra then went searching on Google to explore other mobile retail trucks and sent me a very long email, and later that day we went to a little truck event to see one of the local retail trucks. That night, we became business partners and decided Yarn Over Hollywood would become Yarnover Truck. (We decided to make “yarn over” into one word because it looked better in our logo design!)

Yarnover Truck Interior

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: Well, I just got chills because that is such a cool story of how your partnership developed. Now that you knew you were going to have a truck, where did you find one to turn into Yarnover Truck and how did the renovations go?

Barbra: We found our truck on Craig’s List! She was a former Little Debbie delivery truck, and before that transported uniform laundry. We were very lucky in getting the truck renovated, as one of my brothers works in construction and did all the renovations for us! My other brother (they are twins) designed our logo and truck wrap. We like keeping it all in the family.

Neighbor Jillian: That is so cool. I would imagine the truck itself is like family now, too. Does she have a name?

Maridee: We LOVE that she was a Little Debbie delivery truck, and have eaten way too many Swiss Rolls in celebration, so we named her Debbie in honor of her past life!

Neighbor Jillian: So cute! Tell me about the launch party!

Barbra: The launch party was held in a park near where we both live, just behind the studio where “The Tonight Show” used to be filmed in Burbank, California. We sold tickets initially through our Indiegogo Campaign for those who wanted to be the “first” to see and shop in the truck. Then, once that campaign ended, we continued to sell tickets and in the end sold close to 100 of them! We had many of our friends and supporters there, plus people we had never met come and cheer us on. Everyone loved the truck and we received many compliments on her design and inventory of great yarns that we chose to sell!

Yarnover Truck Launch Party

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Maridee: The afternoon was a resounding success and many people spent several hours with us in the park knitting and crocheting with new and old friends. We had a great gift bag for all who came, fun drawings throughout the afternoon, and light food and drinks—including Little Debbie snacks in honor of our truck! There are a bunch of photos from the event up on our Facebook page and more continue to get posted as the days pass. We keep getting messages from people who came and just had a wonderful time. It was a great way for us to launch our business!

Neighbor Jillian: It sounds like a fun time was had by all, especially these ladies, who got Yarnover Makeovers!

Yarnover Makeovers

Photo © Yarnover Truck

More Yarnover Makeovers

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: We’ve covered how Yarnover Truck came to be, but what exactly is inside it? Obviously, it carries yarn, including our very own Spud & Chloë, but do you sell knitting needles and other implements so that if someone wants to buy yarn but didn’t bring items to start working right away you have them covered?

Barbra: Yes, we carry knitting needles and crochet hooks. Even though space is limited and we are not carrying a very big variety, if someone does fall in love with a wonderful yarn and wants to start a project immediately, we have the tools to help them do just that! We also believe that at some of the larger community events and festivals, we will have people coming to the truck who have never knitted or crocheted anything before. We will be their first exposure to these wonderful crafts and we want to help them get started right away and hopefully fall in love with it like we both have!

Decisions, Decisions

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: Excellent! It sounds like you ladies have thought of everything. How did you decide to bring Spud & Chloë onboard as part of your stock?

Maridee: We have both used Spud & Chloe for several projects and really fell in love with the yarn. For me, I have to admit that, as a crocheter, yarn that is fine intimidates me a bit, but Spud & Chloë Fine has become one of my favorites! I love that the pieces I have made are easy to care for. That is very important to me!

Neighbor Jillian: Spud & Chloë Fine is one of my favorites also! :) Earlier you touched a bit on going to larger community events and festivals, and I noticed you have put a handy calendar up on your site so shoppers know where to find you! Can you talk more about your plans for where people can find Yarnover Truck in the coming months?

Shoppers

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Maridee: We had created a list of events we felt we should check out when we were writing up our business plan, but since our launch and article in the Los Angeles Times, many people have reached out to us with suggestions for places to visit and events to attend. We are going through that very LONG list right now and will be mapping out our plans for the next several months.

Neighbor Jillian: I know that you have stated that you plan to go up and down the coast of Southern California, but is there any chance you would take Yarnover Truck on the road for a true roadtrip? Saaaaaaaaay, to Minnesota, which is the location of Spud & Chloë World Headquarters? :D

Barbra: Maridee is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota so you are not the first to ask this question!! We have requests to bring the truck all over the country. While nothing is set yet, we might consider a road trip or two—we just need to work out the logistics (and hope that the price of gas stays where it is or gets lower!).

Neighbor Jillian: So, we know where Debbie will go, but now the question is… who gets to drive??

Maridee: We both drive Debbie, and the other follows in their car filled with back-up stock and supplies. There is only so much we can fit on Debbie :)

Always a Line

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: It is a bit of a yarn caravan while you are on the road! I know you ladies are so busy and I am so grateful for all the time you spent with me today. I’ll let you go, but first I have a fun question to close with: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Barbra: I would be any of the companions from Doctor Who—I am a big Doctor Who nerd! :)

Maridee: I would like to be Elizabeth Bennet. I have always loved Jane Austen, and I think Elizabeth is a very interesting character with lots of layers.

Neighbor Jillian: Great answers! Thank you so much for your time ladies, we appreciate it! We here at Spud & Chloë are so excited about your venture and wish you the very best as you set out.

As the sun sets, I exit Yarnover Truck and come back to reality. Leaving California behind, I daydream of yarn and beaches…

Santa Monica Beach

Photo © http://www.pbase.com

Follow Yarnover Truck (figuratively, not literally!) by going to their website, liking their Facebook page, finding them on Twitter, signing up for their mailing list, or joining their group on Ravelry!

If you own or visit a local yarn shop that is doing fun activities with Spud & Chloë yarns, let us know by emailing info@spudandchloe.com. We are always looking for more stores to interview!

February 20, 2013

Interview with Needles & Niceties

Here we are in Upland, California, just 45 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles! It is a balmy day as we stand on the doorstep of our latest subject in the shop interview series: Needles & Niceties. If I turn to look behind me, I can see the snow-capped-in-winter San Gabriel mountains. *gazes for a while*

Shop Front

Let’s see what’s waiting for us inside! Photo © Needles & Niceties

Well, I think it must be quite an adventure inside, so let’s go on in and see what’s waiting for us!

*opens door*

*is immediately greeted by an enthusiastic poodle*

Sophie

Sophie is the shop’s official mascot! Photo © Needles & Niceties

Neighbor Jillian: Hi, sweet one! *pats her* Are your mom and dad around? I am here to interview them for the blog. Ah, here they are!

Bob and Anna

Bob and Anna, next to a display of bootie kits they put together for knit:For A Reason (FAR), a non-profit organization that assists in the educational needs of under privileged children both here and in Haiti. Photo © Needles & Niceties

Neighbor Jillian: *shakes their hands* Thank you so much for letting me visit today! I was going to start out with asking how your shop got started, but first I want to hear more about your shop greeter!

Bob: That is Sophie!

Neighbor Jillian: And how did she come to be in charge here?

Bob: Anna and I have always had a dog in our family. When our very loved Airedale passed away at age 14, we sadly said no more, the loss is too much to go through again.

Neighbor Jillian: *nods* I am sure many pet owners can relate.

Anna: That steadfast stance lasted four years… and crumbled when we first saw Sophie the Standard Poodle at age 4 months. She is now 6 years old, and has come to the shop with us every day.

Bob: A wonderful by-product of having a calm and loving dog in the shop is when customers come in “just to see Sophie”! We enjoy the visits, purchase or not. Sophie is the single most recognizable draw to our shop in town. Who needs advertising expenses when you have Sophie? :)

Neighbor Jillian: Indeed! Let’s talk about your shop. I am so curious how you guys started, and am especially intrigued because you are a husband and wife team. Let’s find out how all of this came about!

Bob: We met in college, where I got two degrees in Hotel Management, which I did for many years. The job took me to many cities, the final being Ontario, California. While there, we bought a 15,000 square foot Five & Dime store. Anna handled the day-to-day operations of the store, even implementing a special section that was unusual for that type of shop: a needleart section.

Anna: This came in handy later when the stress of Bob’s hotel management job started to really get to him, and I suggested he try cross stitch as a way to relax. His first cross stitching project, a 16 x 14 Linda Meyers harbor scene, may not have been perfect when it was done, but it cemented his interest in this new-to-him hobby. I also took up cross stitch eventually!

Bob: As time went on, we were both ready for something new, so I left my job in hotel management and we closed the Five & Dime shop. Instead, we opened this specialized shop in Upland, California. We are a full line yarn, cross stitch, and needlepoint shop. The yarns that we offer are always of the finest fiber content and in textures and colors that are current with each fashion season.

Anna: Our hand-painted needlepoints range in price from moderate to indulgent one-of-a-kinds. And, of course, the cross stitches we offer follow the same trend, being the hard-to-find limited edition projects.

Bob: From the beginning, we knew that all three crafts involved needles of some shape and size and we only wanted to offer the nicer end of each craft; hence: NEEDLES & NICETIES!

Neighbor Jillian: You have had great success over the last twenty-three years, and I think what I love best about your shop, aside from the delightful displays, is that, though you cater to very experienced crafters, part of your niche is your passion for educating those who are just learning.

Bob: Indeed. Our favorite proposal for newcomers who feel overwhelmed by choices and aren’t sure where to begin? ”Find a project that captures your excitement.”

Neighbor Jillian: Now that we know how your shop came to be, let’s talk about the delightful displays I alluded to earlier because I seriously must take a moment to squee a bit over your display for Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas yarns.

Blue Sky Alpacas & Spud & Chloë Yarn Display

Adorable setup using a chicken coop, baskets, a beautiful bench… wait… Photo © Needles & Niceties

Neighbor Jillian: How adorbs is that?? But… wait… what’s that I see over to the left…? *squints and walks closer to it, then stares back in amazement at Bob and Anna* Is that a…

Spud & Chloë Bike Display

Let’s take a closer look at the Spud & Chloë set up… is that… a bicycle?? Cool! Photo © Needles & Niceties

Anna: A bike? Yep! That is the first time the bike has been used! It hasn’t even been ridden yet. *laughs* It is from Christmas 2012 and is by Neiman Marcus.

Neighbor Jillian: What a cute idea! I also love the chicken coop used as a display shelf for Metalico.

Bob: As an added bit of fun, I found a very old hard cover copy of The Great Gatsby that I’ll be using as a prop in our Metalico display!

Neighbor Jillian: Your enthusiasm for Blue Sky Alpacas yarns and Spud & Chloë yarns is certainly inspiring! How did you guys find out about us and what led you to bring us into your store?

Bob: We were always aware of your yarns through your tasteful advertising in consumer magazines. What sold us on the product and presence of Blue Sky Alpacas was your booth display at a TNNA show in Long Beach, CA several years ago. Sadly, the daily duties of running our shop got in the way and we didn’t find room or time for a new line in our shop.

Anna: But, fast forward four-plus years and here we are, making the commitment for our area!

Bob: So far, the response has been overwhelming!

Neighbor Jillian: We’re so glad that you circled back to bring in our yarns now and that they have been met with such excitement by your customers. :)  Now, going back a bit to how all this came about, I know you both do cross stitch, but I am wondering if you both knit, as well?

Bob: Anna, it seems, has been knitting since the first Ice Age. She also crochets! At age 20 and newly married, she would sit by the pool and crochet a cotton shawl. That was the 70′s…

Anna: For Robert, when it comes to knitting, not so much… But, his claim to fame is teaching a lefty who just walked into the shop how to cast on!

Neighbor Jillian: Very cool! My husband is left-handed and I know that sometimes it can be hard to find instructions or methods for doing activities left-handed! Sadly, it’s almost time for me to go, but I do have one more fun question here for you guys, if you’re willing?

Bob and Anna: Sure!

Neighbor Jillian: Great! If you could be any character from fiction, who would you be?

Bob: It’s a toss-up between Vinnie from My Cousin Vinnie or any Jack Nicholson character.

Anna: Dorothy from Wizard of Oz!

Neighbor Jillian: *laughing* Those are great answers! Gosh, I had such fun talking with you guys! *shakes their hands again* Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to chat with me!

Bob: We do appreciate your efforts in putting something together about Needles & Niceties!

January 23, 2013

Interview with Knitting Off Broadway

Good morning, readers! This past week, I got a chance to talk to the owners of Knitting Off Broadway, a captivating yarn shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana that is run by Jan and Natalie, a mother-daughter (respectively) team. Let’s check in with them about their inspiration, their shop, and their partnership.

Knitting Off Broadway Logo

Photo © Knitting Off Broadway

Neighbor Jillian: Jan and Natalie, thank you both for joining me today! *gestures for them to sit down* I know you two are very busy, so let’s get down to business! *hands them both coffee*

Jan & Natalie: Thank you for interviewing us!

Neighbor Jillian: You are very welcome! I find it so exciting to get to know other fiber lovers. I think the best place to start is at the beginning, so can you tell us your “knitting history”? I am especially curious because I know you are a mother-daughter team. How did that come about? Who taught whom to knit, and how did you end up opening a shop together?

Natalie: I learned to knit during an elective class when I was a freshman in high school. On the advice of my teacher, mom and I visited a “real” knitting store called Cass Street Yarn Depot and fell in love the minute we walked in! The beauty of the old train depot, the colors, the textures, the fibers, and all the things you could make yourself! Seeing my interest in this new hobby fueled, my parents gave me knitting classes as a birthday present, and mom would drive me there every Saturday.

Jan: Waiting for her every Saturday amid all the yarn, I began to get inspired. After a while, I decided I wanted to knit again (I did some knitting in high school for 4-H projects, but that was many years ago!), so I also took lessons at the Yarn Depot.

Natalie: While in college, I worked at Northampton Wools in Northampton, MA, and learned a lot about knitting and running a yarn store from the owner, Linda Daniels. Just after finals in May 2007, mom broke the news to me that our beloved Yarn Depot was closing after many years.

Jan: Instead of being upset, Natalie looked at this news as an opportunity for us to open a yarn store of our own, and, less than six months later, Knitting Off Broadway opened for what we hope is a long run!

Natalie & Jan

Natalie and Jan busily stocking the store. (I do believe I spy the Spud & Chloë Trifecta Scarf in this photo!) Photo © Knitting Off Broadway

Neighbor Jillian: What a cool story! I love how you both influenced each other throughout the years, and that the end result is a culmination of your shared interests. Now that we know how your shop came to be, can you tell me more about the shop itself? *hands out cookies and refreshes coffee*

Natalie: We wanted our shop name to be different from all other stores in the country and be nice to say every time we picked up the telephone. When we found our location just one-half block off Broadway, which is on the western edge of the downtown area and one of the main roads in Fort Wayne, we decided “Knitting Off Broadway” was perfect. It not only revealed the location of the store, but it sounded like a production. It also gave us flexibility, as “Off Broadway” could be anywhere, even if we moved, since all plays are off Broadway unless they are in NYC.

Jan: After two years at that old location, that flexibility was appreciated, as we then moved to our permanent home in a renovated stand-alone 1888 commercial brick building on Broadway (though we kept the “Off Broadway” name).

1930s

This was taken in the 1930′s when the Interurban (a type of electric railway) was in use. Photo © Knitting Off Broadway

Natalie: The restoration was a 14-month labor of love, and renovations included tin ceilings, ceiling fans, schoolhouse lights, leaded glass transoms, finished oak wood floors, and brick walls. All of these things give our shop a lot of character, as do the yarns of natural fibers, needles, buttons, and accessories displayed in or on antique furniture pieces throughout the store.

Knitting Off Broadway Interior

What a charming interior! (I especially love the tin ceilings!) Photo © Knitting Off Broadway

Neighbor Jillian: It sounds absolutely beautiful and cozy! Is the whole neighborhood as charming and historical?

Jan:  Yes! It is unique because the neighborhood has a truly downtown vibe, a variety of stores (from an office furniture store to a firefighters’ union in a restored fire station to a Starbucks), and even some residential housing, yet it is far away from the new establishments, which helps keep the old timey character.

Neighbor Jillian: You guys all seem to have such fun! Just recently I heard that you had a Blue Sky Alpacas Yarn Tasting that you paired with breakfast time! How did you come up with such a fun idea?

Natalie: Well, in the past we have hosted yarn and wine tastings and “Breakfast with Blue Sky” evolved from that. The idea actually came to me as I was waiting in line at the nearby Starbucks! I like coffee just as much as wine, so why not?

Jan: The Breakfast filled up really fast! There will be 15 people attending for coffee, muffins, fruit, and yarn. Each person will knit with a ball of a different color (which in Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight isn’t hard to do!). We hope it will be a fun morning; knitting before your day really gets going is always a great thing!

Knitting Off Broadway Interior

Such a warm and inviting place to relax and play with yarn! Photo © Knitting Off Broadway

Neighbor Jillian: Do you think you might have a Spud & Chloë Yarn Tasting in the future?

Natalie: We would love to do a Spud & Chloë tasting, too! Maybe “Sittin’ with Spud” or something, with the two knit up. It would be very cute!

Neighbor Jillian: Well, ladies, it has been such a pleasure talking with you! I had fun learning how your journeys led you to where you are today. *turns to look at readership* And, thank you, readers, for joining us, as well! Stop by in person, if you can, and check out their selection of both Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas yarns. And, even if you don’t live in near Fort Wayne, you can still visit this dynamic duo by popping over to Facebook or their web site, Knitting Off Broadway.