shop talk

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

the last time i taught at shall we knit?, the shop was located in a lovely vintage storefront in new hamburg, ON. during this latest visit, i had a chance to check out the shop’s new digs at 11 willow street in waterloo, where it was moved in the spring.

now, i just loved the old shop space, so i walked through the door of the new space with a little anxiety and a lot of anticipation—it was obviously very different on the outside, so i was hoping to find at least a few vestiges of the old feeling on the inside.

and i was not at all to be disappointed. the moment i walked through the door, i felt like had returned to the warm, cozy atmosphere i remembered—and then some.

because the new shop is bigger . . . MUCH bigger. but you know that can be a drawback if it means that the close-knit vibe of a place just gets watered down.

not here though. first off, this is not a typical commercial property; the building is a charming craftsman-type bungalow, updated, but with most of the original features intact. there are all manner of nooks, crannies, and corners to house feature displays or a comfortable knitting chair.

i’m taking you through the shop exactly as it appears when you walk through it.

owner karen crouch and her staff have created their knit shop with a vision—they want this jewel of an enterprise to be the much-anticipated destination of every knitter who passes through the region. and they are making quite a dent in achieving that goal.

the koigu hutch, now famous in the area, is always full and inviting; it’s the shop pet (xena, i didn’t forget you; YOU are the shop concierge!)

the whole first floor (yes, there are multiple floors, swoon) is dedicated to knitterly goods—books, yarn, tools, accessories, and

YARN. everything from good wool to quiviut to cashmere to silk is represented here—there is a yarn for every occasion and then some.

shall we knit? is one of the very lucky few shops to have some briar rose fibers on hand and the display is gorgeous, filled with several of chris’s yarn types, including sea pearl. it rarely stays full however . . . area knitters are very fond of the stuff.

speaking of rare yarns, one of my favorite new delights was discovering that SWK? now has their own line of specialty silk fingering yarn, mmm! this is one thing that you can’t get anywhere else.

willow street silk a slightly nubby 2-ply yarn with a relaxed hand and generous yardage that is perfect for lace knits and lightweight garments (mmm, i’m thinking it would make a most excellent little cardigan; something plain with neckline or hem detailing—i want one now!). shown here is colorway service (you know i love my earthy greens).

best of all, the yarn is spun from silk recaptured from leftovers of the luxury goods trade, so that by using it, we are rescuing perfectly good silk from ending up in a landfill.

seriously, i shudder to think . . .

moving on, one of the best features of the new shop is the expanded classroom and gathering space. there is a generous front porch and back room area for small groups to gather (knit n chat is every friday night from 5-ish to 8-ish).

the second and third floors have spacious rooms for teaching and storage, including the sale closet, which is open one weekend per month.

along with more classroom space, karen now has a dedicated space for spinning fibers and classes.

many local fiber producers are represented, as well as more widely represented ones, such as briar rose fibers.

resident spinning and fiber artist tabi ferguson teaches spindle and wheel spinning here, where her goal of turning every knitter into a spinner as well is steadily being fulfilled.

and karen is happy to facilitate, hehehe—she has recently become a schacht dealer and will soon have sidekick wheels to offer.

the shop staff has an awesome debut for the sidekick planned into their booth at the october fiber festival.

i had the pleasure of teaching two classes last week in the new shop—we had an EXcellent bittersweet vines class; i figured out a better way to teach the project, which worked a treat. i will definitely use this format going forward.

we also did lace start to finish and as i told my students, this was the most efficient group i ever did this workshop with—they finished all their work in the allotted class time and even left about 5 minutes early. wow.

most fun of all was that roxanne from zen yarn garden and her fun crew of friends (including cathy of zigzag stitches).

for some reason, i happen not to be smiling in this picture, but trust me—i was delighted that they drove all that way for a class; we had a lot of fun that evening.

thank you karen, lynne, and lise for a wonderful stay at your shop. it was an absolutely lovely week; i miss you!

since all of my waterloo events took place in the evenings, i took a little time away from my desk work each day to explore. i did my running and walking in the nearby waterloo park and laurel trails, as well as the city streets.

on thursday, i headed for the st jacob’s market with tabi and matt, to check out the local farmer’s fare. this was a much anticipated trip, as i’d heard so many good things about the market.

even at that, i had no idea it was so huge—totally unexpected, in fact.

peppers were the big crop this week apparently and the air was filled with the scent of all types. heavenly.

color was everywhere; my favorite sight were these two side-by-side displays

flowers and little tomatoes that were color coordinated.

tabi took me over to meet her favorite vendor, mickey mcguire, who sells cheese. you really have to meet him; he not only sells cheese, but he knows everything about it—my kinda guy. i really hope i can take cookie to meet him some day . . .

i wanted to buy everything i saw, but since i was leaving the next day, i settled for a few homemade soft pretzels—one of my die-hard addictions. i love them and i try to eat them wherever i go to compare.

in fact, i just had one as i was writing this; i put the ones i bought in the freezer when i got to my mom’s, haha, for snacking on during this week. i’ll save one for david, too.

i was sad to leave waterloo; the time there always goes by so fast. but i looked forward to getting on to albany as well. i’m here now, working and visiting with my mom, who had knee surgery last week. she’ll be home in the next couple of days, maybe even ahead of schedule.

i’ve been working on patterns—had to finish up the september club packet and work on a few new patterns.

i’m knitting mostly on a secret project (which i can’t show you) and the blümchen cardigan (which i can)

for some reason i can get nothing but crappy photos today, but that one there is me picking up the stitches for the neck/button band the winds all around the front edges of the cardigan. i got post of it picked up last night but i fell aslseep in the middle of the last section and that was my cue to take myself to bed, haha.

i’m trying to get it done so i can add the actual neckband numbers to the pattern. there just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there?

i’m working on my first sleeve still as well; i’ll take this along on my hospital visit today and i bet i can get several more inches onto it there.

today is monday, when i usually have class in the afternoon at my house and i’m thinking about how much i miss everyone; i’ll be glad when we resume regular class hours.

and speaking of the hospital; i better get going. i want o visit earlier today because i made a dinner date with one of my mom’s friends here.

21 thoughts on “shop talk

  1. What a great Waterloo trip–the shop and the market looked amazing. I’m glad to hear your mom will be home soon. I’ve done a lot of hospital knitting, in good and bad situations. It certainly helps pass the hours, especially if you need something to draw your focus away from wondering what’s going on in an operating room.

    The new cardigan looks great–I love watching your progress!

  2. Sorry to hear that your mom is laid up with her knee (but glad you are here in Albany..we have great orthos here as I am sure you know!!). I wish that I had known you were coming. My mom is a volunteer at St. Peter’s and would have been happy to swap knee stories (if your mom is at St. Peter’s). Hope that you are able to spend a little time running around here this week..glad the weather is cooperating! Wishing you the best and your mom a speedy recovery.

  3. I’ve just added Shall We Knit to my bucket list of shops I want to visit in person. Road Trip! You did a great job of taking us through the shop. You always do, Anne. You make me want to be where you’ve been just by your blog reports.

    Blumchen is coming right along and I realize I must knit faster to be ready when you are ready to release the pattern. I’m drowning in projects. But having fun.

    So glad to hear your mom is doing well from her surgery. Try to rest some. You’re always in motion. We don’t want you burning out. Love to you and your mom.

  4. That is some yarn shop! I would come out a lot poorer, and probably with a few more grey hairs too I’d be there so long! Hope you are managing to re-charge your batteries a little.

  5. Did you happen to notice if Shall We Knit had made accommodation in the new store for wheelchair accessibility?
    There are many people in chairs who craft, and all too many craft/knitting shops fail them.
    Being handicapped can be an incredibly isolating experience, not being able to be part of the knitting/crafting community focused at a local yarn shop is salt in the wound.
    As someone who travels and see many local gems, it would be a boon to many of us in this situation if you could ask the question about accessibility and share the answers here. Even asking the question would help raise awareness, and tapping into the market of the high percentage of wheelchair users who craft can only help the bottom line of LYS’ who are worried about staying in business.

  6. Fantastic yarn shop. But that wonderful St. Jacob’s market is even better. Wow!

    New Bittersweet Vines class sounds interesting. Hope your mother does well.

  7. That shop looks seriously dangerous; I would love to visit there someday! Also, best wishes to your mom for her recovery — and as someone who has undergone several knee surgeries myself, I have to add, as I always do: Tell her to be sure and do her exercises! It may hurt, but it is totally worth it.

  8. Oh, the St Jacob’s market! I haven’t been in years. I love the Wellington-Waterloo-Kitchener-St Jacob’s area. Might be time for a road trip!

  9. Anne, I’m so glad to hear that your Mom is doing well and will soon be in the comfort of her home. If your Mom is anything like her daughter, she will be doing her exercises and be up and around in no time. Give my best wishes for a speedy recovery to your Mom.

    You always have to hold a “secret project” over our heads, don’t you! I do love secrets. The blümchen cardigan is looking lovely and looks like it is coming along quite nicely.

    Wow! the farmer’s market, don’t you just love all of the colors, aromas, abundance, and yummy goodness! My farmer’s market is teeny, tiny in comparison. Then you had to push me over the edge….CHEESE SHOP!

    The walk-through in Shall We Knit is wonderful. I love craftsman-style bungalows and especially when they keep the original features and character of the building. You can certainly see why it is the place to go for classes, shopping or just sitting and knitting.

  10. The yarn shop and the farmers’ market look fantastic. O Canada – yet more reasons to visit you again.

    Btw, the Scandinavian-looking cardi of the woman next to you in your unsmiling picture is also fantastic. What pattern is it, do you know, or did she buy it in Norway?

  11. hi, we LOVED having Anne visit us again and we’re already talking plans for next year. hmmm but which classes because they are all so amazing.
    Diana you had asked about wheel chair accessibility – unfortunately it is an old house and has stairs up to the front porch. We have a couple of regulars who can manage a few stairs so they call us when they are coming and we help hoss the chair or walker up the stairs while they make their way up the stairs. Once inside the shop we have worked hard to keep the aisles free and wide for chairs or strollers. My landlord is talking a ramp but I’m not sure if it will happen this year.

  12. Stashdragon: that’s me wearing the cardigan. It’s actually Estonian, designed and knit by Riina Tomberg. I bought it while in Estonia this summer. Riina does amazing work.

    Thanks Anne for a great workshop. I really enjoyed it!

  13. Nice post Anne! Looks like a wonderful place to visit! And how wonderful to see Briar Rose yarns in the flesh!!! Can’t WAIT to get at that Blumchen. . . .

  14. Oh, yes, SWK? seems to have hit just the right balance between open spaces and intimate nooks. It is absolutely charming. I’ve not been to Waterloo before, but it is now on my list of places to visit in the coming year.

    Extending my best wishes to your mother. Recovering from major surgery is a long and sometimes tricky proposition. Just when you’ve taken a few steps forward, you’ll have a day when you feel as though you’ve regressed by about a mile. I hope she’ll be kind to herself throughout this process. I’m sure that having you there is a comfort to her.

    In my not-so-humble opinion, Philly soft pretzels are the best! he, he.

  15. Had a lovely time seeing you again at your class Anne! Great evening and lovely company and of course your teaching us about lace…doesn’t get much better!

  16. Next time you are at SWK I hope I am able to attend. I haven’t been able to make it for the last two years. Thanks for the pictures of the new shop, it looks great, I have a trip planned to go next month with a friend.

    It was nice to meet you at the Knitters Fair, I was the one with the little 5 year old redhead named Julia. We both love seeing all your beautiful designs in person. I was inspired to work on finishing my bee fields stole!

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