Fiber Dreaming At The Church Of Yarn

Church_Of_YarnI recently learned that the last remaining yarn store in the greater Bangor area closed at the end of April. I’m always sad to see yarn shops closing. To me, knitting is a holy thing and a yarn shop is a temple. Each one has its history and personality, its resident “clergy” and its faithful followers. And I’m a fiber evangelist. That means I want to spread the word of yarn and convert the multitudes, sure. It also means I don’t really insist that you come to my temple, as long as you’re going somewhere. Every time a yarn shop shutters, there’s one less church of yarn in the world.

It’s gotten me thinking about why and how I do what I do, and choose minions who follow suit. As I’ve been reading Jennifer’s and Lauren’s and Catherine’s personal story blog posts recently, I’ve been thinking, too, about the impact yarn shops and their denizens can have on the communities around them. It all starts with a vision. A vision of yarn and needles, true. A vision of patterns and notions, of course. But what really makes a church? It’s the people. Not just here at OTR, but in every yarn shop every where. It’s the tireless and patient owners and bosses who keep teaching, encouraging, fixing, reminding, training and figuring out how every one can shine. It’s the minions who come in every day to put their creative energy to the service of others. It’s the regulars who keep coming in because this is the place where they find inspiration and comfort, and the company of their fellows. It’s the stranger who comes looking for a home away from home, knowing they can find sanctuary here. It’s the old timer with wisdom to share and the wide eyed new comer determined to make those needles work. It’s all about the people.

Or it should be. Too often, I find shops where the owner has opened because they love yarn and thought it would be fun to hang around with a couple of friends and knit all day. And it would be. But there are books that need to be kept and orders to track down. There are complaints to smooth and computers to be wrestled into submission. There are reps to meet with and classes to teach. And a constant stream of people.  If you open a yarn shop so you can sit and knit, you’ve chosen the wrong business. If you find customers a pesky interruption, you’re missing the point. At least in my mind.

I love knitting. I really do. It touches my soul in a way that nothing else does. I love a good pair of metal straight needles and a ball of lace weight wool with a heart swelling joy that approaches lust. Every time I pick up my needles, it’s like a prayer. And some times it’s not just like a prayer, it is a prayer. I really do worship at the church of yarn.

But someone asked me recently what is my favorite thing to make. Shawls? Socks? Mittens? Nope. My favorite thing to make is knitters. As much as I love yarn…and, oh, I do, I really, really do…I love knitters more. I want you all to keep coming back to the church of yarn. I want you all to be suffused with the bliss that is knitting. As long as their are still unbelievers out there, I’ll keep spreading the good word, and my minions with me. As long as there are believers who keep coming, we’ll be spreading the fiber love.

And if you are a faithful follower of the church of yarn, I’ve written a hymn for us…okay I didn’t really write it, I co-opted the tune and re-wrote the lyrics to suit. If you’ll open your hymnals, please…


My life flows on in endless yarn;

Above earth’s lamentation,

I see the sweet, sweet cast on row

That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife

The rows that need outwitting,

Will find an echo in my soul—

How can I keep from knitting?

Oh, If it’s cold and dreary here,

There’s comfort warm and wooly.

And though the darkness gathers round,

My yarn absorbs me fully.

No storm and shake my inmost calm

With needles by me sitting.

When I have cashmere in my stash,

How can I keep from knitting?

What though my life be chaos bound?

I’ve patterns in my notebook;

What if I put my needles down?

I still have my crochet hook.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While sweaters still I’m fitting;

As long as sheep keep making wool,

How can I keep from knitting?

I lift my eyes from all my rows;

And find that time’s been winging

And day by day my project grows,

My needles sweetly singing.

The joy of yarn makes fresh my heart,

I can not think of quitting.

All things are mine with fiber art,

How can I keep from knitting?

At home, at work and in the car

I keep a sock close by me,

My double points are bright and strong

So nothing much can try me.

When friends around me stitch and chat

And loved ones we’re outfitting,

When yarn is ruler of my world,

How can I keep from knitting?


Written by mim


8 Comments on “Fiber Dreaming At The Church Of Yarn

  1. Mim,

    You are the best! What a lovely post and such a true, true poem. OTR is a gem and it shines through you.

  2. Great post, but it makes me sad, too. Which yarn store closed now? I would guess Yarn Barn and not be surprised, but I thought One Lupine was still open?

    A true yarn shop ( and bead shop and fabric shop ) must face serious struggles in Bangor with all the big box stores. the quality isn’t in those, but the prices! People will worship at that cheap altar instead of the altar of quality, to borrow your metaphor… and we all lose.

    • It was The Yarn Barn. It’s true that some folks will go to the altar of cheap, but even those folks will come into a yarn shop for the community. I’m grateful for everyone who walks through our door to sit and knit and be part of our community, even if they got their yarn somewhere else. At least they’re knitting.

  3. Thanks, christi. We love you, too. It’s folks like you that make our little yarn church on School street such a great place to be…for all of us.

  4. What a wonderful post, Mim! You have captured the essence of what a good yarn store means to many of us – part church, part school, part home. I find such solace in the fiber community. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Barbara. We miss having you here, singing in the choir. Can’t wait for you to come back.

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