Tuesday, October 4, 2016

(Almost) Raising a Yarn Store and Two Boys

Anyone who has known me for the past few years knows that I have been simultaneously raising a yarn store and my two boys. I was pregnant with Miles when our yarn store dream became a reality. And if things got too busy in one of the first few months you visited, you may have snuggled Miles while I wound your yarn or vacuumed. If things were slow, I could catch up on bookkeeping or play with my sweet baby.

The store got busier, and we added to our yarn store family as well as our personal family. About 10 ladies helped out with lessons, pattern deciphering, and Auntie duties.  Little baby Devon joined us just a few months after we moved locations. With some small tweaks, the new location was perfect for us! The main floor had cute cubbies for gorgeous yarn delights, and after some arranging, a fabulous place for gathering and friendships. We put our effort into yarn bombing, new samples, and day to day store activities.

The upstairs had a perfect office, kid room, and extra supply room (which turned into a LuLaRoe room). It made thinking about raising my kids in a yarn store suddenly less public, and more imaginable to homeschool. We even had a full bathroom and laundry put in. Because, well, kids!

One month went by, and then another. Two turned into four, and suddenly I realized I was resentful. My kindle was parenting my four year old. When he was hungry for lunch, he would ask politely and it would take forever to find time. To feed my polite hungry child. When my baby cried, I would become irritated with him for making our day even longer. Ten hour days were common, even though I cut the store hours in an effort to stay home and be a better parent. I couldn't keep up with full time working/running my own business and full time parenting, even with help!!

While the busyness was exciting, it took me a bit to realize that I couldn't have everything. I was no longer knitting or crocheting in my spare time because I had none. I couldn't remember people's names because I wasn't getting sleep. I couldn't help with a yarn pattern because I was doing administrative duties up in my office. And I STILL didn't have time for my kids.

I could send my four-year-old to a full day preschool. That would solve soooo many things. But it absolutely negates the reason we wanted a yarn shop in the first place: to spend more time with my family. I wanted a job where I could be a mom and a wife at the same time as a yarn shop owner. And when all of these things demand every moment of my attention, they all suffer. And if I have to choose, I will choose my family every time. Do you see? Someone else may lovingly raise "my" yarn shop, but no one else can be me to my children, or can be me for my husband, barring emotional trauma.

I want to have the chance to have a lazy day with my children out at the park discovering grasshoppers. I want the chance to share a joke with my husband instead of sharing essential child information as we pass in the night. I want the chance to think about expanding our family instead of being fearful what that might mean for our crunched time schedule, or what people might think because I have rough pregnancies.

We are not going anywhere. We are strong believers that God will provide in all circumstances, but we wanted to make our need known. We need you to be aware of our struggle. We need you to understand that the store is mostly run on volunteers and love because of our crazy lives. We also need you to know that we think the store can thrive. But it may not be with me trying to (and losing) control of all things. There may be someone out there who has been aching for an opportunity like this. And so we need you to be open and willing to bear with us as we figure out everything.

Monday, February 17, 2014

March/April Knit & Crochet Alongs

First, as we're in the middle of the Winter Olympics, here is our store Olympic Knit-Along! I've been very pleased with the results, and just love how warm they are. This winter makes me appreciate warmth and knitting/crochet projects so very much.

Thrummed Mittens! Thrums come from "scrap" roving or animal fleece, and is used doubled with certain stitches (the ends are left hanging on the inside of the mitten) to give extra warmth as the fleece will additionally felt and become warmer over time.

Prizes will be awarded to those who finish before the closing ceremonies, although I haven't decided on the prizes yet. You can bet there will be something with chocolate as I seem to interminably be in the mood.


I LOVE bags. And these cute felted bags are no exception!

Knit bag "A Petite Felted Bag" by Ann Lim. And, huge surprise, NO MODIFICATIONS by me!! You may want to think about joining our March 8 class "Circular Knitting Workshop" if you are a bit shy about working in the round from 8 stitches and increasing, but other than that, a super great and quick knit!

Crochet bag "I Felt the Earth Move Handbag" by Letitia Sherriff is also great, except I made quite a few modifications. So here you go. And if you want additional help, there's a class offered for that on March 1 at 10:30.

Here is the bag with no modifications. I feel like it's a big shoe and the hole on top is too small. A good rule to remember when felting: if it looks like it will be shoe-ish before you felt, it will still look like a shoe after you felt. Felting just makes it smaller.

And here is a small version of the bag where I added my comments for change on the bottom of the linked ravelry page.

And here is my favorite, a larger version of the bag where I also added my comments for change on the bottom of the linked ravelry page.

Choose whichever you prefer! I have approximate yarn used also listed on those pages.


 Have you ever wanted to try a sweater? Sometimes the best way to try is to do a mini size! Give these baby cardigans a try! There are classes for both if you want a little extra help! Knit: April 12 from 1-3pm. Crochet: April 12 from 10:30-12:30.

Knit Along: "Coffee Bean Cardigan" by Elizabeth Smith. So Cute!

Crochet Along: "Mini Moogly Sweater" by Tamara Kelly. Let me tell you, these make my ovaries ping, lol!

That's it for now! As always, you can contact us by phone (563-332-7378) or our Facebook page. And if you want to know what's going on with us personally, that's a pretty good place to see photos and get updates, too :)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

January Crochet Along: Quick Calming Cowl

It began as one of those, "I can't find what I'm looking for." And it ended here, where I created my own pattern to fill the void.

You think I wouldn't have time for this. But I figure it will save me time later, as I won't have to search for another easy cowl that I don't quite like, right?


Well, I'll keep believing that.

Anyway, here it is. The beautiful "Quick Calming Cowl" for a few quick Christmas presents. And to quickly help me stay warm. And of course, for the January crochet along.

Click HERE to go to Ravelry and download the PDF.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Fall Update, Projects, and Fun

I like to think that technology will help all of us use our time more efficiently. That's why having a blog embedded in my website sounded so good! And then, just as quickly, my website crashes and has been down for a month. I figure that's a pretty decent push towards writing a real blog post, and updating many of you on our lives.

Things have been busy. So busy, in fact, that I think I'm going more crazy now than when I first had Miles and started the yarn store at the same time. Hallelujah, business is good! And crap, business is good! Because now that Miles is super busy and getting smarter every day, there is so much more for me to see and miss, which means that being a mom is super difficult and rather self-frustrating.

Thank goodness for regular customers and friends! More than I could have imagined, there are women who come regularly to knit and keep an eye on Miles for me. If you are one of these, thank you from the bottom of my heart. While I try to do everything, we all know that it's nearly impossible even in the calm. So from the middle of the storm, thank you for making my load a little lighter, and for making me laugh.

Speaking of laughter, our Fall Retreat was loads of fun! We plan on making this at least an annual thing, maybe more. Let's just say that between the beautiful weather, the amazing food, and great laughter with friends (some new, some not!), the knitting/crocheting was an absolute bonus. I look forward to many more great times.

Projects! Here's a small update on the projects I've been up to recently. And when I say recently, I mean in the last 2-3 months.

"Funky Chunky Mitts"
"Marin" blocking

"Irish Mesh Cowl"

Miles wearing his Irish cabled vest

"Be a Friend" crochet shawl
Gramps Cardigan for the little man
"February Lady"

"Peace Socks"

Anyway, that's a snapshot of my life for the last couple of months. To keep better up to date on the store and all its happenings, check out our website, or visit our Facebook page. Pictures galore there.

If you'd like details on any of these things, feel free to email me or give the store a call (563-332-7378)!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Simple Ladder Yarn Necklace

I am LOVING this warmer weather, finally! And warm weather makes me think of doing things outside... Eek, look at that long grass :)

and lighter projects both outside and inside!

Like these easy booties from ravelry! So quick and gratifying for gifts!

And a super fast cute necklace!

This is our June crochet-along, but I thought I'd get it posted a little early in case you're anxious to try something lighter, too. Or the first one you make you can give away! Remember, in order to qualify for the drawing at the end of the month you should have yarn from our store and start and finish in the desired month (June).

Simple Ladder Yarn Necklace (click to open)

Enjoy, and remember, you can always stop by with questions or just to hang out!

Also check out our Facebook to stay updated.

And our website is pretty handy like that, too.


Friday, March 8, 2013

A Year in Review

It's been a full year, a longer-than-I-thought-possible year, since we've opened our store. And almost that long since I've had a baby.
Before/After pictures of our latest set of shelves

Over the past year we have added 17 unique, hand-made pieces of furniture to our store (compliments of Jotham's amazing handiwork and a few dedicated friends), for a total of about 550 hours of labor (that's in addition to working his full-time job). We've stocked over $100,000 of yarn and notions, with more added weekly. We've helped over 1000 people find patterns, fixed over 400 knitted or crocheted mistakes, and taught over 500 new skills in 136 classes.

In that same time, Miles has grown from an 8 lb 14oz baby to a 22 lb toddler. In the last month alone, I have told him not to touch the yarn an estimated 1700 times. He and I have spent over 1100 hours together at the store, or about 50 hours per week (yes, that was with Mondays "off!"). Add in the weekly hours for reordering, keeping the website up to date, and other random administrative annoyances, and it's more like a 70 hour week.
Miles, 1-5 months

And I wonder why I feel tired.

Jotham and I have eaten over 100 Little Cesar's Pizzas, 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and 20 pounds of cheddar cheese.

I have nursed Miles 3-5 times daily since he was born, estimating about 700 times while at the store.

Miles, 5-10 months
The love that I've poured into our sweet boy, into the yarns of things I have made for him and the store, has been without compare for me. To see his face light up when he looks at me, to feel my heart beat when I open a box of new yarn... these things have been new and delightful. My enthusiasm for one of these things has mellowed in light of the other addiction, which continues to grow... although making him outfits with new yarns has become an obsession since it combines both things in a wonderful way!

Miles, 10-12 months
I've learned a new meaning for the word "tired." Before, I understood it could be cured with a week of full nights' sleeps, or a nap if I had time. Now it's a weariness that makes my limbs heavy, takes away enthusiasm and even--at its worst--takes away my hope at the beginning of a new day. Sometimes I could cry with despair when I think of being rested.

Hand-dyed, hand-spun local yarn. Yummmm!
I've learned how to let some things go. My house is dirtier than I can ever remember, my hair and makeup are always the "quick" version (a necklace is faster anyway!), and our yard looks like the Secret Garden... And not in a good way.

Some knit and crochet projects for Miles
Maybe needless to say, if I had known how much time and energy either of these things would take, there would not be a yarn store in Bettendorf. I would simply be a mom who was a little crazy about fibers and hand-crafted projects. Most of you would be unknown to me, and I would have to be content with getting out to knit with others once a month, if I was lucky.

Some of the original wine rack shelves, Jotham's lazy susan creation on the left
However, we did it. We have a sweet yarn store and an ever sweeter little boy. We have wonderful friends who come to our twice-weekly knit/crochet nights. We have a community of support and encouragement for fiber lovers as well as a place where anyone can come and feel listened to and appreciated. We had no idea if any of this would be successful, and yet we stand here thrilled with our store, our baby boy, and most of all God's faithfulness.
Some of our newest yarns

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Vacation, though much desired, has raised an interesting question for us: Is it possible to take a break from the business without breaking the business? As a new business, we've felt the pressure to be very available... The kind of available that means long hours and quick burn-out. And we've looked at our options.

We could simply close and put up a sign. We could cut our hours. We could think about hiring someone more full time, which might put our business in a precarious financial position but keep us sane.

When we opened last January I was 7 months pregnant. We had no family In the area, and most of our friends were very busy with their own lives. That left us with very few options. My husband planned on taking a couple weeks off work in order to watch the store when I had the baby, by which time I was supposed to go back to work. Two weeks. What to do?

We focused on the things we had to daily. Inventory, learning the fiscal software, reordering, setting up lessons, special orders, and deciding that knitting/crochet nights we should have at the store. There was no time to worry about the future when each day was so full.

And then suddenly, there were regular customers. And some of those customers became friends, sometimes dropping by even when they didn't need yarn. I learned about their children, their jobs, and sometimes their dreams and even their animals. And suddenly we had offers to watch the store after I had the baby. Not just "hey, if you need to run to the bathroom I can watch the store" kind of offers. No, these were substantial "I can watch the store Thursdays through Saturdays, if you'd like" offers.

My husband and I were floored. We knew we would need some help, but this was beyond what we had ever expected. We had our Miles baby and four full weeks with him thanks to several generous people. Incredible.

All that to say that our small business is dependent on family, community and friendships. Yes, good product and services are a lot of what keeps us financially viable, but often mental viability is more important to our-and thus the business'-survival.

So thank you, Jenni, Kathy, Krista, Becky, Lesa, Cindy. Sometimes we've had a hard time, and you all can be incredibly proud of your part in keeping this yarn store going.

As always, you can check out our website Here or our Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!