I 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…