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!)
Jillian: Kristy, thanks so much for being here today!
Kristy: Absolutely, it’s my pleasure!
Jillian: Let’s get started, as I have a feeling this will be a fun interview. But first… I must ask…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!)
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.
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?
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! 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*
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.
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 email@example.com. We are always looking for more stores to interview!