Guess what, my lovelies…Adrienne Martini, author of Sweater Quest, will be in our store June 30th at 2:00 pm.
She plans to read an excerpt, sign books and hang out to talk about her year long adventure with knitting Alice Starmore’s Mary Tudor sweater. She’s even going to bring her Mary Tudor with her so we can all see it up close.
As noted in previous posts, I am a structuralist when it comes to knitting. I love Aran stitches. Reverse cables are my idea of a good time. Charting out a 19 strand, asymmetrical braid with random crosses makes me giddy with joy. But color? Folks, I gotta tell ya…the thought of all that color work makes my head swim. I can hold two colors in my head at the same time and I’ve been know to enjoy a self-striping sock yarn on occasion. Mary Tudor would drive me to distraction. Yet, there’s something oddly compelling about it. And reading Adrienne’s book inspires me to make a long term commitment to something hard, and worth it. I’ll be looking forward to talking with Adrienne and contemplating all that color. Maybe I’m entering a new knitting phase; color anyone?
We just missed something important. In April, the Maine Cinderella Project gave away over 150 dresses along with shoes, jewelry and accessories absolutely free to high school girls who are preparing for the prom. The Cinderella Project accepts donations of new or gently used formal wear year round. Then they clean, steam, press and mend until the clothing and accessories are beautiful and ready to be worn. On one magic day in the spring, they open their rented space in the Reny’s plaza in Belfast so girls can choose the perfect outfit to make them feel like a princess on their one magic night.
Proms are usually held in late May or early June. The evenings are often still cool to cold, and most of those dresses are pretty bare across the shoulders. What if each princess could include in her finery a hand knitted or crochet (or woven or nuno felted?) shawl, stole, shrug, capelet, or wrap of some kind? Could we get enough yarn donated so some of these girls could make their own? Or could we make enough pretty and warm wraps to send them to their proms warm and beautiful?
You might think that owning a yarn shop is like owning a candy store…and you’d be right! For high stash, process knitters or crocheters it is a dream come true. We have over 600 cubic feet of shelf to fill up, not to mention the slat wall and shelf top display space. Yee-haah! So we approached making our initial orders with some deep thought and a lot of glee. We saw five reps in a weeks time, not even thinking that we could become yarn saturated. But each of them took at least five hours to show us hundreds of yarns in thousands of colors. It was like Death By Chocolate the fiber way.
Most of the reps we saw were laid back folks who let us take our time. They were patient when we dithered, informative when we asked newbie questions and supportive, so supportive. They let us ponder and confer. They let us dawdle and renege. But one rep…and you know who you are!…was different. Informative and supportive, sure, but much more focused, much more driven, much more…how shall I say it?…Bossy? Controlling? Let’s say Determined. She had dinner reservations at Long Grain and was NOT going to be late. She told us what we wanted, told us what we didn’t want, scolded us for not doing our preparatory homework, and refused to even discuss anything she thought we shouldn’t carry. She even pulled color cards out of our hands and hid them back in her copious cases.
Now, Kristin and are empowered, determined women in our own right. We are used to making decisions and making things happen. We are used to speaking our minds and having our opinions taken into account. We had been treated like pampered princesses and we expected to have our own way in our own store. We are not used to being told what to do.
As the time for the dinner reservations loomed near, our rep said, “I’m not even going to show you the buttons. You can’t possible make up your minds in such a short time. We’ll save buttons for next time.” Was that a challenge? Was that a dare? Was that a gauntlet thrown down?
As the rep took a load of color cards and samples out to her car, we dove into the button cards and…well…lost our minds. In the grandest tradition of 12 year old girls with passive aggressive issues, we tore through the sample cards making decisions on the fly based on nothing so much as whimsy and our will to prove her wrong. I could almost hear the hunting horns. I could almost feel myself fixing my metaphoric bayonet. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead; we WILL make a button order or die in the attempt.
Fifteen minutes later, we had become Maine’s largest retailer of Renaissance buttons. We have buttons in all shapes, sizes and colors.
Cute duckies and teddy bears for baby sweaters. Sleek urban metallic and crunchy hippie carved wood. Delicate tiny buttons and dramatic oversized buttons. A line of vintage Hawai’ian Hula girls and a line of black and white famous Hollywood personality photos that we are the exclusive Maine retailers of. We have Liz Taylor, all three of the Stooges, Muhammad Ali and Che Guavera…in case you really need to make a statement.
Our rep got to her dinner on time and we are now a button destination. Impetuous? Sure. Crazy? You bet. But we showed ‘em all. Buttons? We got ‘em. So there!
We have a great location. We’re a half a block off Rockland’s main street, and Main St. is a happenin’ place. When summer hits, there are thousands and thousand of folks around. We are right across from the big public parking lot the serves downtown. We have 1100 square feet of retail floor and two class rooms. We have big beautiful windows at street level for fabulous displays.
This is an Old Historic building. And Old Historic buildings have Old Historic construction…and plumbing…and wiring. There are things we have needed to do to bring our space into the 21st century. We’ve been doing them, one step at a time, but the more we dug into it the more we found that needs fixing. And I’ve learned way more than I ever wanted to know about 5/8” sheetrock, furring channels, domestic water sprinkler systems, expanding foam fire barriers, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
The sad news was that each revelation meant more time and more money before we could finally be able to open our doors to you all. My architect kept telling me, “These are just hoops to jump through. Keep breathing. Don’t panic and don’t bail.” So, we’ve been jumping through the hoops. We persevered. We committed to doing what it takes to be here.
Now comes the pay off. The wind howled and the wicked witch has flown by on her broom at least a dozen times. Now the weather has cleared and we’ve woken from our bad dream. The house has settled down somewhere and we’re just about to open the door. I’m thinking there’s a bright beautiful world out there full of color and adventure. I hope you’ll all travel that road with me, because we are finally, finally over the rainbow. And we’ll see you all in person soon.
Over the past month we have had a parade of people through here trying to help us jump through our remodeling hoops. We have had the local code enforcement officer and the city assistant fire marshal We have had the state safety permit review officer and the landlord. We have had two carpenters, two contractors, a drywaller, an electrician/plumber, and two fire retardant foam technicians and an architect. They have all wanted to look at what’s above our nine foot suspended ceiling to the original 13 foot tin ceiling above. With one praiseworthy exception they have all looked me square in the eye and asked…
“Do you have a ladder?”
I am a knitter, a crocheter, a spinner, a weaver and a felter. I have and impressive collection of needles and hooks and pattern books. I have a spinning wheel and half a dozen drop spindles. I have an inkle loom and weaving cards. I have wool combs and tapestry needles and even a latching rug hook. I’m a fiber artist. Do I look like I carry around a ladder in my project bag?
So guess what I brought in to the shop today? Ladder pic
It’s a Little Giant (http://www.littlegiantladder.com/) that expands into a 13 foot extension and “can be used safely on stairs, ramps, curbs, docks or other uneven surfaces.” It has “new patented triple-locking hinge” that makes it “sturdier than ever in the extended position.” It “is made of heavy-wall, 6005-T5 aluminum, the very same material used in aerospace construction. So it’s ultra-strong while remaining light and portable.” It is “government-rated to hold up to 300 pounds, but has survived brutal stress testing of up to 1200 pounds with absolutely no structural failure.”