I’ve poured myself a fresh cup of coffee. You might need a drink yourself. I’m ready to tell the story.
This is the story of yarn, fiber arts, a family and a beervirus. Yes, even a beervirus.
The family is mine, well, ours. Elaine gets growly when I leave her out.
As many of you know, Elaine has been a knitter since she was four years old. For those of you who don’t know the story, Elaine was taught to knit by an older sister who thought the best way to babysit Elaine was keep her busy knitting. I’m telling you, sis was/is a genius. How could Carol know she was introducing Elaine into what became a lifelong passion?
The next 13 years or so are kind of vague for me. OK, I didn’t know anything about Elaine back then, I didn’t even know her. I met Elaine in high school and found out she was a knitter, when she knit me a scarf. A predominately blue scarf about six feet long, knit from acrylic yarn. I can’t swear to Elaine’s motivations, but acrylic yarns are quite flammable, which is one of the reasons we don’t carry it at Your Daily Fiber. (They don’t tell you that in the Wally World yarn department) I don’t believe that Elaine was trying to catch me on fire, however, I’ve never had the courage to ask.
One more thing about my blue acrylic scarf. When we gave it to a thrift store, it was at least sixteen feet long. Acrylic yarn is a plastic yarn that stretches. I would guess by now, (forty (+) years later) the scarf is well over a hundred feet long. Unless, of course, it combusted and burned.
Am I drifting? I need to stay focused or I’m going to be here all night.
Elaine and I married in her senior year of college. College is where she found an extension to her knitting passion; weaving. Of course, I also benefited from Elaine’s college course. I refined my vast knowledge of the fiber arts. It was in one of Elaine’s classes I found out that hanging rolls of toilet paper of different lengths from the ceiling was art. Before that class, I had always thought hanging toilet paper was just simply handy.
It was during that time in Elaine’s and my lives, that Elaine (through Elaine’s mother) befriended the ladies that owned and operated a yarn shop. It was there that Elaine learned the perils of plastic yarn, while learning animal fiber yarn will smolder and not flame. (That gives you time to take off a sixteen foot blue scarf should it be on fire. Just sayin’)
A couple years of Elaine and her mother hanging in the yarn shop resulted in developing a friendship with the shop owners. Our apartment became filled with yarn. One day, the ladies announced they were tired and closing the store. Unless, Elaine would want to purchase the store from them.
Elaine and I discussed it (for about sixty seconds) and politely declined. You see, she was going to be an actress….and I was going to learn to fly! I think I might have plagiarized that last sentence. I should run for President. I apologize to Harry. Anyway, running a yarn store wasn’t anything we wanted to do.
Elaine loved creating wearable art. Most people have things like baby grand pianos, in their living rooms. We had spinning wheels and looms in ours. Elaine created wearable art for friends and family. She traded a sweater for braces on the kid's teeth. She knit a sweater for a mountain lion hunting cowboy as a thank for allow us a weekend in his cabin. She knit a sweater for one of my brothers for Christmas. We won’t go any farther with that story.
Enter Ivy. As a child Ivy was taught by Elaine to knit. I think she was five years old. Unlike Elaine, knitting wasn’t her thing. Ivy liked smelling flowers, playing hide-n-seek, throwing rocks (Now that’s a story), and playing with the neighbors. Stuff her dad would have done. As fate would have it, Ivy tabled knitting for later in life.
As the wearable art started piling up in the house, Elaine announced, “There is a wool festival in Taos, New Mexico, I’ve been accepted to show my stuff there.” This was the first of many trade shows and vacations spent going to them.
Elaine’s fiber career took off like a whirlwind. It sucked me right to the middle. Elaine’s garments were featured on magazine covers, boutiques in Japan and the United States, art shows and more and MORE trade shows. Me? I was still trying to figure out why hanging toilet paper was art.
My job became, how do we cut expenses? “I’ve got it, we’ll buy fiber animals.” We bought three male mohair goats. The meanest, smelliest animals on the planet. We actually sold one before we could name it. The other two, appropriately named Muhammad (Ali) and Leon (Spinks) fought constantly.
We bought female goats and the next thing we knew we had thirty-three goats. Elaine was shearing every one of them. Making (spinning) yarn. Selling yarn at trade shows. Goats turned into llamas, no not like Darwin, we sold the goats and bought llamas. Llamas to alpacas and yaks. More trade show vacations.
One day, after months of thought on my part, I said to Elaine. “I’m burned out with this trade show stuff. Let’s open a store and let the people come to us.” Elaine replied, “You know we had the chance to do that, years ago, and neither one of us wanted it. I replied, “I know, but you were going to be and actress….and I was going to learn to fly.” Did I just do that again? OK, that wasn’t what I said.
After conversations with a potential partner, we decided we would in fact open a yarn shop in spite of our previous decisions.
Six months after the opening of Your Daily Fiber, Ivy was coaxed into running the store. Somehow, maybe it was God’s plan, Ivy had renewed her interest in knitting and wanted to take it up a couple levels.
Running the store gave Ivy the opportunity to teach others and further her talents, (which are many). While running the store Ivy took the time to teach seminars at some of the same trade shows she attended as a child with the family. Designing knitting patterns became Ivy’s passion. She has been published by magazines, in a career while still in its infancy. Oh yeah, I forgot about her winning the best-in-show thing at the county fair Me? I dye a little yarn and carry heavy stuff.
In late December 2019 and early January 2020, I started reading about a virus floating around China. I’m a news junkie. Things like the virus interest me. I started reading everything I could about the virus. CDC said it was nothing to worry about. A relative of Elaine’s who worked for CDC was planning a vacation cruise.
In February 2020, a student of Ivy’s/customer since the beginning of Your Daily Fiber announced she would not be coming back to the store until this virus thing was over. Shortly after, Ivy’s Wednesday class, was empty. Ivy lost a source of her income.
I continued following the virus. I believe it was in March of 2020, it was confirmed, someone had brought the virus from Europe to a Colorado ski slope. The virus spread like wildfire. Soon after, the Colorado governor closed all non-essential businesses in Colorado, while allowing people to fly into Colorado unchecked.
As a yarn shop, Your Daily Fiber fit the criteria for a non-essential business. Wally World could remain open and sell yarn but that’s a story for another time.
Don’t get ahead of the story and start guessing.
While furloughed from Your Daily Fiber, Ivy’s mind was racing. My mind was racing also, but I was headed in a totally different direction. Ivy noticed an uptick in online sales.
“Monner, Mom and I were talking. What if we closed the brick and mortar and list everything on the website so it can be purchased online? I will hold seminars in your friend’s coffee shops, when they open. (That was already in the works.) We can hold all day seminars at the house. People will come to the mountains. We will still do the Wild West Knitting Retreat. You know Mom misses the shows. She can go back to all of them. If our plan works, great. If it doesn’t, Mom and I have enough yarn to last our lifetimes. Oh by the way, I signed up to go back to school.”
“Well, that might be a better idea than mine. I was going talk to you and Mom about just closing the whole thing.”
Beervirus sucked the desire from me. Ditto, Elaine and Ivy. When our lease expires, we will close the brick and mortar. Plan on stopping by before November 1 and take something home with you. I have a hard time saying what I’m about to say. Not everyone reads these stories, (gosh, that hurts) please pass the news to your friends.
Our crazy lives!