Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
So, it’s official. We’re going to Rhinebeck, and you can come with us. Click here for full info and to reserve your space.
On Thursday, October 17th, 2013 a Custom Coach luxury motor coach will pick you up in Bangor, Rockland or Portland and we’ll all head south together. We’ll be on the road for a while, but the bus has video screens so we could watch a movie (Antonia’s Line has some exquisite sweaters, shawls and other knitwear) or even a how-to with a mini class. You can give me lots of feed back about how we can entertain you while we roll. We’ll have some snacks and bottled water, but you can also either bring your own bag lunch, or order one from us…well, not really us, but one of our local restaurants.
We’re staying at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Poughkeepsie, New York. They have a pool and a hot tub, so bring your suit if you want to get wet. We’ll have breakfast and dinner at the hotel. You’ll get your own lunch at the fairgrounds.
Friday is for classes. You can look at the complete list of workshops here. The vendors will be setting up and there are no “public hours.” So if you are not taking a class, you can knit around the hotel or explore Poughkeepsie on your own. Classes will still be available for those who want to take them on Saturday, but Saturday is also for shopping. Everyone will be open and the show will be in full swing.
On Sunday, we’ll wend our way home. All the details are on the Events page, and you can even get your tickets right on the Events page as well. If you have questions, you can call the store at 207-594-6060. I’ve always wanted to go to Rhinebeck and now’s my chance. I hope you’ll come with me.
Saturday, June 15th, 2013
Yesterday was my birthday. It was also Kristin’s birthday. It was also OTR’s birthday. How did that happen you ask? Well, we can only surmise that it was fate. Kristin discovered pretty quickly after we met…and she stalked me on Facebook…that we had the same birthday. Pretty freaky, but we took it as a good sign and set to work. My original intention was to be open May 1, 2012. But then we hit reality in the form of Maine State Fire Code. On May 1, 2012, instead of opening our door, our store looked like this…
Meanwhile, while the sheetrock crew was getting us up to code and ready to open, we were choosing our first yarns and trying to keep our boxes organized…and dust free.
So many yarns, still no place to put them in May.
It became clear we were going to need help, so we started interviewing. Karla and Jennifer joined us first…and man alive were they troopers! With no better tools than an pencil and a note pad, we sent them into the basement to organize 42 giant boxes of yarn into some working system of organization.
Believe it or not, they had a rough system up and running in a day. They knew where everything was and what they were going to do with it once we actually had shelves. Oh, yeah…shelves! The workshop was behind on making our rolling shelf units. And we still had to get Jennifer and Karla’s system into some computerized form. So the beginning of May came and went, and we began to think about a May 15th opening.
In the middle of May, instead of opening our door, our store looked like this…
Painting and measuring for the built in shelf units. There was so much to do we started dragooning everyone we could think of into picking up a paint brush or entering some data.
Makeshift desks and dueling computers, Jesse and Mike blazed our inventory management system trail in the midst of chaos.
By Mother’s Day, it was clear we were not going to be open in May. So much still to organize. So much still to finish. But we were making friends with Jeff, the UPS man. More yarn arrived every day and we still had no place to put it. Shelves! We still needed those shelves! Probably June 1st, wouldn’t be so bad.
Nearing June 1, 2012, and instead of opening our door, our store looked like this…
Still painting. Still entering data. Still getting boxes every day. Still no place to put things! Finally, the first week in June, the shelves arrived and were installed.
Vaughn and Terry arrived with the largest moving van you can rent…in the rain, no less…packed to the rafters with shelving. Finally we had a place to put all that yarn! We started putting bags onto shelves and it actually started looking like a yarn store. Of course there were still things to organize…and still data to enter.
Thomas and Mike at least had a legitimate counter to work on. And we were getting a handle on the yarn…and buttons, hundred and hundreds of buttons. What were we thinking? (See Kids In The Candy Shop. Scroll down; it’s the second entry on the page.) Kaila and Jennifer and Karla, along with several other transient willing volunteers got a handle on the buttons…and the needles, and the books, and the notions, and…
So the first of June came and went. We were making progress. All the pieces seemed to be in the box. We just had to put them all together. We began to think we could have it all ready by the middle of June. But…wait…I mean…that would mean… June 14th is my birthday. June 14th is Kristin’s birthday. Freaky, but we considered it a good sign. Could it be that June 14th would be the day?
You bet. On June 14, we opened our door…
And our store looked like this…
Bright, cheerful and full of yarn. Every one who came in seemed to be charmed. They lingered with soft smiles on their faces and a sparkle in their eyes. They chatted with us and with each other. It seemed the cosmic forces had aligned , our fate was on us, and we hit it just right. June 14, 2012. Perfect.
In the year since then, we have become the gathering place for a thriving community. They gather Monday and Thursday evening and Wednesday morning for Stitch and Spin circles.
We’ve had book signings and yarn tastings.
We sponsored the first ever Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race.
And the first annual Community Blanket Knitting Marathon.
Not to mention the Click for Babies Campaign, the Scarves, Hats and Mittens For Kids Drive, blanket squares for Hurricane Sandy Relief, Mrs. Santa’s Kitchen and The Mid-Coast Mitten Tree Project (which is ongoing and you can still send green mittens to be given to kids December 1, 2013) We welcomed VogueLIVE Destination Experience retreaters to our area and partnered with the J&E Riggin to do a knitting cruise. We’re building an online store we hope to unveil before fall. We’ve made national press in our trade magaizine…multiple times. We were mentioned on the first page of the Knitty.come blog, and will be the featured as the “inspirational yarn shop” in Vogue Knitting’s fall issue. We’re putting together our first bus trip (to Rhinebeck! Tickets available on our Calendar page) and we’re planning our first shop retreat for April of 2014 (details to come).
We’ve come together as a team, created a community…and we know where our stuff is! It has been a wild ride, and amazing year. And the thing that makes it so joyful and satisfying is the deep sense of commitment we get from all of you. We’ve made some great friends,
…seen some wonderful fiber artists create some beautiful things and some knitters and crocheters make their first stitches.
We’ve been able to share our love of fiber, and our love in general with all you wonderful folks…and you keep getting more wonderful all the time. That’s why Kristin and I don’t mind sharing our birthday with you. Each and every one of you is a gift to us.
Yesterday, we opened our door again to welcome you all in and share our first birthday with you. You have made it an amazing year and we hope you’ll be with us for many years to come. We have so much still to do with you all. We have so many plans and hopes, wishes and dreams. And you will be right at the heart of them all. With gratitude from the bottom or our collective heart, we say, “Thank you all, and Happy Birthday.”
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
We are so lucky to live and work here. Maine is a pretty place and every day we are surrounded by a large slice of transcendent beauty that not even poetry can do justice. I could tell you about the drizzly days that are a monochromatic silvery color or the sudden break in the clouds over the harbor, between the breakwater and the islands, that allows golden shafts of light to gild the surface of the water with tiny iridescent sparkles like fish scales. Or the lift on the heart and soul when you drive up Old County Road, hit the top of the hill and look out over the bay as you head down into Glen Cove…and you know without a doubt that you are blessed to be in this place, in this moment. Maybe my poetic skills are just not up to the task, but really, these words on this screen can not take the place of seeing it for yourself.
And, for a time, if you play your cards right, you can see it for yourself. We have several historic schooners moored in the harbor here, and they sometimes do knitting themed cruises. We here at OTR are partnering with the schooner J&E Riggin this summer to make four specialty knitting sailing adventures happen.
Doesn’t that look like fun? Or if that’s not quite your style, how about this…
I am actually teaching on the first cruise out this season. We’ll be covering embellishments in a class I call Gilding The Lily. Imagine, a short, focused workshop in the morning, then all the rest of the day to lounge around, hang out, trade inspirations or stories and knit.
Oh…and did I mention that Captain Annie Mahl is an exquisite chef with two published cookbooks? This will be my first time on the Riggin, but I have heard from others that the food is so good, you will eat ’til your sides creak.
There are friendly deck hands… some of whom are knitters…who play guitars and sing in the evenings. Then you’ll be gently lulled to sleep by the rhythm and swish of the ocean. Dreamy, right? And all in the context of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. What’s not to love?
Wind and weather depending, we may even get to explore some islands or secluded beaches. We may see seals or puffins or dolphins. You never know what might come out to greet us. But it’s certain that even long after you’ve returned to your ordinary life, at odd times, when everything seems cloudy or gray, these moments and these folks will break through like those golden sunbeams over steely water and lift your heart. Like knitting, it’s not just for a day, but if you do it right it can last a lifetime.
I can’t wait to get there, and I know I won’t want to leave. But when I do have to put my feet back on land, I’ll be headed to the Maine Fiber Frolic, and your ticket to the Frolic is included in your package. You can get all the particulars on the Riggin’s web site here. And you can read more about past trips here. When you call for your new reservation, be sure to mention Over The Rainbow Yarn. They’ll offer you 25% off a new reservation. Won’t you join me?
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Okay, you’ve all seen the news items about people who have a gozillion cats and the animal protection agencies raid them and gather up all the kitties and take them to shelters? And the people are invariable crying about how much they love their darlings? And you know…the thing is…no one sets out to become a crazy cat lady. No one swings in a hammock on some sunny afternoon when they’re ten years old and muses to themselves, “Gee, I think when I grow up I want to be a crazy cat lady. Yeah, that sounds like a great thing to do with my life.” No one looks at their collection of pets and thinks, “Oh, my goodness! I don’t have enough white to balance the black. And you know I don’t have a single ginger. Maybe I should go find one in the perfect shade or orange marmalade.” No one starts scouring their neighborhood looking for strays to build up their kitty population so they can enter some crazy cat lady olympics. There are no categories for “Most Cats Living Under One Roof” in the Guiness Book.
Now I’m not saying I have a problem. And I’m really not saying that you have a problem. But I want to introduce you to a few friends of mine.
This is my favorite winter shawl/stole/scarf thingy. I believe it is a basic Prayer Shawl Ministry pattern, and I believe the yarn is Manos del Uruguy in the Wildflower colorway…but I have no way of knowing. See, I found this most comforting of friends at our local Goodwill Thrift Store.
I also believe this is someone’s beginner project. It is full of beginner basic mistakes. The pattern is supposed to be a kind of garter/reverse garter basket weave. You know…k3, p3 over an odd multiple of 3. If you look closely, you can see where the knitter stopped in the middle of a row, then went the wrong way when she picked it back up again. There are places where the garter turns into stockinette, and there’s some random short rows here and there.
I saw it in the bin and my heart melted. Someone put a lot of work and love and, yes, probably prayers into this, and it ended up donated to Goodwill. Did the original knitter think it wasn’t good enough to give away? Did the recipient think it wasn’t good enough to keep? Or maybe it was well love by both the knitter and the recipient, but the recipient has passed on and it was just tossed in with the old, unwanted clothes by someone who didn’t understand what they were holding in their hands. No matter which way you look at it, it was imperative that I take it home with me and give it a life of usefulness and love. It now has pride of place on my Island of Misfit Knit Goods.
My urge doesn’t stop at finished objects. These are my newest pets. Don’t look for them in the store; they are both discontinued and these might be the last unused skeins in the world.
A small hospital in our area has a thrift store that helps with their funding. A couple times a year they have a $5 Bag Sale. You get a tall kitchen sized bag ad anything you can cram in there and still tie the bag shut, you get for $5. I went with a friend, not intending to get anything, but I saw these luscious skeins stuck in a back corner of the sale area and they looked so sad. Each color is enough to make a whole sweater. Somewhere in the land, some knitter or crocheter put these beauties in their stash with some definite intention. But they wound up donated to the thrift store and have been languishing on a shelf in a back room long enough to be a little dusty. I could no more resist them than a crazy cat lady could resist the entire litter of kittens that just got dropped off on the side of the road near some local farm. If yarn could have a tiny heartbreaking mew, I am sure I would have heard these darlings crying out in fear and confusion at being abandoned in such a lonely place…with no knitter to love them and help them reach their full potential. You see where I’m going with this…
I know I am not alone in having a large stash. I mean really large. I mean, “She who dies with the most yarn, wins,” right? Maybe I’m not alone in my urges to rescue lost or abandoned yarn or knit goods. I know that, just like no one sets out to be a crazy cat lady, I never intended to give shelter to quite so many skeins. But I can’t help it. And I have no intention of stopping, so I suppose I am relieved that there is no Yarn Control Officer in my town who would raid my home and confiscate my darlings. Beside, I found a great home for at least half of this latest batch. Kristin has taken the copper colored Softwist from Berocco to make a summer sweater. I may yet find a home for the white Isadora from Classic Elite.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
If you know me, you may have heard me say that here at OTR we don’t support fiber apartheid. Unlike some places in the world, we class all fiber arts as equals. We invite, nay, encourage crocheters to come into the yarn shops and give their creativity the good stuff to work with.
I was reminded again this week that not everyone shares my view. A woman slinked in the door and scuttled along the walls, darting from shelf to shelf and taking fearful glances over both shoulders at every aisle intersection. Okay…maybe that’s an exaggeration. But she did seem a little uncomfortable and seemed to be avoiding my super friendly, cheerfully helpful Minions. She even blushed when one of the Minions asked her if she needed help. I got curious and sidled up to her. You know how I do it; I find a little bit of busy work that will take me to the part of the store where a shy person is trying to hide. I do a little bit of fussing with yarn on the shelves, or find a particularly dusty bit of floor in that part of the store that needs mopping right now. Carefully, slowly, so as not to startle anyone, I get closer to my
target, prey, quarry, new friend. When I get in proximity, I, oh, so casually begin an innocuous conversation. It might go something like this:
(swish, swish of the dust mop) ME: Please excuse me for dusting around you. It’s hard to keep up with the lint in a yarn shop, and we want everything to be tidy for you.
SHE: Hmm. Of course.
ME: That’s a very pretty scarf. (or sweater or hat or bag, etc) Did you make it yourself?
SHE: Yes. (or no, depending)
ME: (if she says “yes.”) It’s lovely. What is the yarn?
ME: (if she says “no.”) Well, you could. Do you knit or crochet?
See that? I don’t automatically assume she’s a knitter.
So this past week, a shy one came in and resisted all the Minions attempts to engage her. I went to the area where she was
skulking hiding perusing the shelves and began to put some yarn in a neater stack. I opened with one of my friendliest smiles and a comment on the beautiful blue and green hand paint she was fondling.
ME: That’s such a pretty color way. It always reminds me of oceans. Did you knit the hat you’re wearing?
Imagine my surprise when she blushed again, put down the yarn she was holding and leaned closer to whisper to me.
SHE: No, my mother knit it for me. I actually crochet. I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t be here. I just wanted to try something new and pretty that I can’t get at &*%#&$@’s (name of big box craft store withheld).
Seriously? Seriously! She apologized for coming into what she thought was a knitters sanctuary. I immediately showered her with compliments on her good taste, revealed that I am an out and proud crocheter…actually, I am bi-craftual. I showed her our section of crochet books and magazines and my current crochet projects which I leave, oh, so casually, on the front coffee table for all to see. I offered her a cup of tea and invited her to sit and hook a while. I gave her the schedule of our Stitch and Spin gatherings, assured her that she would not be the only crocheter there, and explained our “End Fiber Apartheid” philosophy.
She wound up with some gorgeous lace weight and left with her shoulders squared, her head held high and a smile on her face. And I’m on a campaign. Even if you think of yourself as a “only a knitter,” in solidarity with your crocheting sisters, consider these points:
Just like knitting, crochet has come a long, long way since the 70′s. We would none of us want our entire craft judged some of these beauties…
Fashions come and fashions go and we can all learn a lesson from the padded shoulder, drop waisted, Laura Ashley print dresses of the 80′s, and the less said about big hair perms the better.
And before you mock granny squares, ever, ever again, consider this… With color sensibility and an eye for complexity and style akin to Gustav Klimt…
Or maybe this… With a cross between Jackson Pollack and the French Impressionists…
These pieces make the leap to fiber art…with emphasis on art.
And if it’s fashion you’re after, there are some great designs finally showing up for crocheters. How about this?
It’s enough to make you want to take up a hook.
Hear me now, and hear me loud…Crocheter’s of the world, be out and be proud!
All you fiber artists out there, if you have a crocheting friend who is still closeted, still ghetto-ized to the big box craft store, still apologizing for wanting something more, tell them we’re here for them. And it wouldn’t hurt you to try a little hooking, too. We’re here to help.