After knitting squares and eating lunch, I also make a point of visiting another place, to do some more complicated knitting. This is a place where you can actually get help if your pattern is driving you crazy, or just talk to a few others who are besotted with their knitting projects; rip the whole thing out if you have to, knowing there's a skilled back-up system to help you put it together again, and just generally lose yourself in absorbing, miraculous creativity. I treasure my day out.
When this little drop in group meets in the afternoon, you are greeted in a friendly way by everyone, and it doesn't take long to get to know them. Tea is brewed and offered to you in beautiful porcelain cups. Cookies are at the ready, and always of the more exotic variety. It really doesn't get much better than that! People look at you a little strangely when you tell them you had a wonderful day. Faces sort of glaze over a bit, as you try to explain the joy of knitting, and being with others who are as fascinated by fibres as you are!
I was curious to know more about Kim. In March the store will be celebrating its 5th birthday.
Kim lives in the little community of Roberts Creek, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Commuting to Gibsons isn't far, and having her retail store there puts her out in the public eye. She's lived in Roberts Creek from 2006, and shares a house with her husband, daughter, two dogs and a cat. She also has two daughters who live in Vancouver.
Kim's story ...
K: The store, the colours, the textures. The customers that come in and the variety of situations they are in; their families, their life situations. I love helping people pick yarn and patterns for projects. I like being my own boss because I think I'd be a terrible employee! I like being a part of the community by creating work and supplying products to the sunshine coast.
V: How and when did you interest in fibres first start?
K: I started the store because I saw a business opportunity; there was nowhere on the coast or in Vancouver that I could buy sustainable, quality products to work with. I am interested in colour, in texture, in wearable art. I've had this interest since high school.
V: I know you are also interested in spinning and weaving. Are you able to supply your store with your own hand made products?
K: We don't have finished fibre products in the store. I imagine that at some point I will be skilled enough to offer my own wearable and usable art - knitted garments, spun yarns - for sale but I am not there yet. I do offer other people's products for sale -- buttons from Harry on Texada Island, several local spinners, Joan, Dorothy and others; dyers like Krista and Caitlin; wood workers, potters, jewellery artists all have their products in my store. I'm also working on a line of project bags and needle storage bags that should be ready in a few months.
V: I'm interested in your website too. Do you find it attracts local business, or do you also find international customers? Do you do mail orders?
K: I have two websites; one is for the store and can be found at www.unwindnknitandfibre.ca and one for my fibre www.aureliawool.com. The aurelia wool site is an online shopping site for the corriedale and merino fibres that I import from Australia and South America. I hope to have my whole bricks and mortar store online by late spring.
V: What other aspects of life interest you most?
K: I am a writer. I love to work in mixed media, mostly acrylic and paper on wood. I like kayaking, and have a necky that I got for my 50th birthday. I have been bitten by the travel bug and plan on going to the baja to kayak this year, and to Paris. I have a cabin in the woods that I rent in the winter; wood-stove, no water, no electricity. I try to get there once a week to write, to spin, to walk.
V: Are there any fibres or products in particular you wish to promote in this article?
K: All of them! I am learning constantly about the properties of various yarns and fibres, how they behave and what they are best at. I like unspun fibre as it has the most possibilities; it can be spun into yarn, felted, shaped, dyed, woven.
V: I'd like to write about your drop-in knitting groups. What would you like to tell me about them?
K: Our drop in socials, on Tuesday afternoons and Friday nights, are not tight knitting groups in the traditional sense. We have all ages and all abilities come to the social knitting groups.They have different folks almost all the time. I love the fact that everyone is truly welcome. No matter if you've never come or come every week, there is a place for you. We've laughed, cried - sobbed, in fact - shared love, strife, marital and family troubles and celebrations. We create a nurturing circle for folks, women and men, to join, to be part of, to claim space in. It's mystical, practical, mundane and extraordinary.
V: What is the big secret to running a successful knitting and fibre store? I notice you have a constant influx of customers. I love the way you look after each one, and also your hospitality.
K: I always say that my job is like hosting a cocktail party without the wine! I treasure and appreciate every person that comes in the door. We strive to be inclusive, always.
The secret? A mixture of being realllly realllllly skilled at ordering good quality products. Be prepared to work 50 to 70 hours a week. Owning a business is not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I tell the staff that folks can order yarn in the comfort of their own home in their pj's at 11 at night. We need to make sure that when they walk in the door they have a wonderful experience, one that they will want to have again. I am a firm believer that I will only get from my community what I put in to it.
Consider getting better acquainted with Unwind Knit and Fibre Lounge from wherever you are!
Also, I'm convinced that working productively with natural fibres, dyes and materials is one of the most satisfying and tranquil things anyone can do. It's incredibly rewarding to see new people learning new skills, like knitting. The joy of accomplishment cancels out a lot of grief in life events.
- Vanessa Clayson S.A.S.S.: Introducing A New Colour
- Marcoujor's Musings: Bundling Up and Stripping Down on an Arctic Day via Mar's Desk
- flashPress: Miracle on VOODOO MOUNTAIN by Megan Boudreaux via the Pumpkin Run Pulse
Thank you for your visit and wishing you a safe and beautiful weekend!