Friday, July 19, 2013

Tales from the Road!

Last week, Mr. Deep and I returned from our travels to New Mexico and Colorado.  We attended a wedding in Albuquerque and enjoyed a wonderful visit with friends in Denver and Boulder.  As is my habit and desire, I had to find local yarn shops in the cities we visited and spend my vacation funds therein.  I was delighted to find several well-stocked, beautifully thriving businesses in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Boulder.  Limited time was the only thing keeping me from exploring more shops, and I made a vow to return to see what Taos and Denver have to offer in the way of fiber.  I spoke to shop owners about  experiences with independent dyers and local fiber artists and walked away feeling more inspired and better educated in my chosen field.

Yarn ain't the only thing brewin' in Albuquerque!
One of my favorite moments was when I was in The Yarn Store at Nob Hill in Albuquerque on a hot afternoon.  Several yarn-lovers were wandering through the gorgeously filled shelves where I found myself excitedly extolling the virtues of toe-up sock knitting to a customer.  I found some hanks of locally dyed yarn from Fiesta and checked out the price.  It was quite expensive, but rightly so.  I was encouraged as a fiber artist because the price was reflective of the work and care that goes into the yarn.  But does it sell at that price?  The fella behind the counter said it did very well.  And lo and behold, the woman behind me in line had some in her hand to purchase.  She said it was the only thing she bought.  Validation for the small fiber artist!  This made me so happy!  Unfortunately, the beautiful artisanal yarn was not in my budget (I didn't even expect to find a yarn shop there so easily!), though I did manage to get away with an amazing Malabrigo skein.  However, Mr. Deep and I plan to return soon with a larger yarn budget and more space in the suitcase.
Beautiful yarn, bad picture of the label.

Before heading up to Colorado, we stopped into Santa Fe for breakfast and, across the parking lot, I found surprise yarn!  Yarn & Coffee beckoned to me and I had to answer.  A good-sized co-ed group of knitters was gathered in the small but well-appointed shop.  I was pointed to some locally dyed yarn and fell in love with a skein of Wooly Wonka perfect for Mr. Deep's next pair of socks.  (I'll be ordering that and anther skein by phone this weekend.) The owner gave me the names and cards of other yarn shops in the area.  I loved the sense of community this small jewel of a store exuded. On my next swing-through, I'm definitely setting aside time for a cup of coffee and a knitting break.

Mr. Deep and I spent most of our vacation in the Boulder/Denver area, but, as Mr. Deep is very well-loved and was in great demand among his friends, I only had time to visit one yarn store, Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, which had been suggested to me days before by a friend who lives in the area.  This shop specializes in spinning and weaving as well as yarn! After
My stash enhancement from Boulder, CO.
an hour of roaming between the shelves, and sending a few picture texts to Mr. Deep and his friends to help with the decision process, I was able to narrow my choices down to two gorgeous skeins, including one from local dyer Sunshine Yarns and one special edition shade from Dream in Color.  I also got some well-received advice regarding the business of being a dyer.  They practically had to kick me out as every turn inspired another potential project in my head and, therefore, another yarn I wanted to buy.

At the end of my bi-state "yarn tour", I walked away with two thoughts.  One was that I am so excited to go forward as a small independent fiber dyer. I felt that there were people who appreciate the artistry and hard work that goes into the fiber arts.  The other sentiment I had was that any community that has one local yarn store (or two or three, even!) is so fortunate.  Each store I visited had a sense of community and support, not just with regulars but even with a traveler just blowing through town.  I can't wait to revisit these stores and discover others in the area.  If you have a LYS in your area, visit it, patronize it, join the knitting/crochet groups that are offered.  These places are treasures. 

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