Ever since I began to collect yarn, I’ve been puzzled by the problem of storing it in an organized and highly accessible manner. It began with a basket, then another basket. The yarn in the baskets grew more and more squished. Skeins got buried beneath other skeins. Baskets got buried beneath other baskets. Getting inspired by the yarn in your stash is an ordeal when you have to take out a basket, then take out its contents and lay them all out on your floor in order to see what you’ve got. Having to make a mess in order to practice your craft is the worst de-motivator. You know what I’m talking about, person who stores her sewing machines at the back of the closet and must use it on the kitchen table. The matter was complicated by living in a rental home, and my dreams of the perfect yarn storage solution were tied to my ability to buy a house.
I happened upon “The World’s Best Yarn Storage Idea” (Click the link – I dare you to disagree) while working on the Pot O’ Gold newsletter about a year ago now, coincidentally at the very same time that my husband and I decided we were ready to buy a house. The world’s best yarn storage solution is, of course, an entire wall covered in peg board with skeins of yarn wound into cakes and stuck onto individual pegs.
This is me gazing up at my yarn from the living room sofa.
So what do you think the number one qualification for my dream home was? It was not a jacuzzi tub, a front porch, or a spacious kitchen; it was a perfect wall to dedicate to my yarn stash. I think I nailed it with this house.
When we moved in, I had to get started before I’d even unpacked. Frankly, half the boxes were full of craft supplies, and what would be the point of unpacking my craft supplies prior to the construction of my yarn wall?
The fact that I have no idea how to build anything and can’t find my way around a hardware store was no impediment. I burst through the doors of Home Depot and scanned the aisles with bravado. I identified the peg board. I realized I would never be able to fit it into my car, but I found the wood-cutting machine (reminiscent of the one I used to cut pieces of mat board in art school, only more scary). I got the board sliced up and I bought out all of the 2-inch pegs available in the store (who decided to stock them so far away from the actual peg board?). I returned home, and got to work with a bit of help from my sweet husband who is brilliant at many things, but maybe not construction projects.
It came out a little bit crooked, but that’s ok. I had a Pinterest-inspired trick up my sleeve. I went back and picked up some strips of molding to create a framed edging for my yarn wall, and I made sure the frame appeared straight.
It’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect! I feel inspired by it every single day. I think I am the luckiest girl alive now that I’ve built myself a yarn wall, and it wasn’t all that hard. You should build one too.
Making friends has always been a mystery to me, especially as an adult. I’ve always been the shy type, with quiet, solitary hobbies. I’m a classic introvert.
Crocheting fit right into my lifestyle, which previously involved reading, drawing, computer games, eavesdropping at coffee shops, and snuggling kittens. At first I didn’t conceive of yarn as a conduit to a bona fide social life.
This is how it works.
Shortly after I discovered the glorious existence of local yarn shops (which rocked my world after Walmart and Jo-Ann’s had viciously misled me to believe that acrylic yarn was the only kind and that even shopping for yarn was necessarily a lonesome experience), I met Jennifer at Over the Rainbow Yarn. Jennifer was kind, helpful, and polite. I liked Jennifer right away. I’d never talked to anybody about yarn before, and Jennifer was eager to talk to me about yarn.
Some of my favorite people at Stitch N Spin.
When Jennifer invited me to Stitch ’N’ Spin on Thursday evenings, I felt honored. I considered it carefully, picturing myself sitting amongst a group of crafty women, practicing my craft in their company. I weighed my newfound love of crocheting and the repressed yearning for friendship that’s always been in my heart against my social anxiety. The decision to go to Stitch ’N’ Spin was one of the best I’ve ever made.
Let me tell you why, from the perspective of a chronically shy individual:
First, when you’re doing something with your hands, you have an excuse not to speak up. It’s perfectly acceptable to just sit and knit in a knitting circle. When silence occurs, it isn’t awkward the way it would be if you were all sitting there not knitting. Second, it’s easy to talk about craft projects. Conversation prompts are right out in the open, sitting on everyone’s lap. Opportunities for sharing knowledge and opinions abound. Third, since crafting is a way of life for many, you’re starting with a vital common interest. It’s easier to get into the groove of chatting with people who think like you do and value the things that you do.
Stitch ‘N’ Spin was the indisputable highlight of my every week for years before I ever worked at Over the Rainbow Yarn. I continue to meet people with all kinds of experiences to share (common subjects: world travels, good food, babies, pets, thrift shopping…), but without any kind of pressure. It’s exquisitely laid back. It’s just hanging out. Friendship is almost automatic at Stitch ‘N’ Spin. You guys are all my best friends. I feel like I finally found my place.
Well, my best friends except for these guys (Catlin and Leo).
I came to Maine to be with my husband (a native Mainer) in 2011 after I finished college. I studied graphic design and illustration. Yarn was never on my radar until Chris and I moved into our first itty bitty rental apartment together and we received a humble housewarming gift from one of Chris’s co-workers. It was a crocheted doily.
Sewed the doily to a canvas and hung it above my bed where I could examine the stitches with awe every evening.
I couldn’t have told you the difference between knitting and crochet, and I could never have distinguished cotton from wool by touch. I’d never even known a knitter in all my life. If you’d asked me about knitting (or crochet), I’d have tentatively supposed that it was a craft forgotten since the Victorian era at least.
But we had received this simple doily crocheted out of your standard mercerized cotton crochet thread, purported to be genuinely hand-made. Frankly, I thought Chris must have been mistaken at first. Surely a machine had made it. How could a human make such a thing? How would one begin to learn and where would one ever find the time? Naturally, my Google instinct kicked in. I Google everything that I don’t know. I’m not sure what search terms I entered initially, but it may have been “Do people really crochet in 2011?”
That gift was a turning point in my life.
I was off and running within a day or so, armed with some cheap acrylic yarn, a Susan Bates crochet hook from Walmart, and YouTube tutorials. I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a pattern initially, and the inefficient gestures I used might have horrified a seasoned crocheter (I grabbed the loop of yarn between my fingernails and tugged it over the hook until my fingertips were sore).
The first thing I crocheted was a rug for my living room. I was still looking for a job, so I had a lot of time on my hands. I worked on that thing every day for a month, making it up as I went along. I didn’t have a plan, so I began with a skein or two. I returned to Walmart for more, wondering if I looked weird filling up my shopping basket with yarn. I bought out all the yarn in the color that I wanted after a few trips, so I had to drive to the Walmart in Augusta in order to proceed.
It became a full-on addiction in the course of that first project. I sat on my floor with my laptop in front of me day after day. I watched documentary films while crocheting for hours. My studio was the tiny bedroom (closet?) upstairs in our apartment. It felt kind of like my very own treehouse.
As it turns out, making things with my hands makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Nothing delights me more. Chris’s co-worker changed my life, and I don’t even know her.
My first crochet project was a 6-foot rug for my living room.