I am a big advocate of shopping local when possible. After all, it is the local shops that give a town its charm, its unique voice, and are run by the very people who live in a particular community. I know sometimes cost and practicality can be prohibitive. I love my local yarn shop, but I cannot afford to buy all of my yarn there. The prices and selection online can be alluring, especially if you need to buy a large quantity of yarn. However, when I can, I shop at my local yarn shop, and it's not just for the yarn.
Of course a yarn shop will have your yarns and notions, but that is just what a yarn store sells, what it gives away for free is far more valuable. Yarn shops across the country, and likely across the globe, provide community. This might not sound like a big deal, but it's huge. We owe a debt of gratitude to the yarn shop owners that run what is hardly ever a lucrative business to support the outlet so many of us seek in knitting. Whether we knit to feed our creativity, relax after a stressful day, or challenge ourselves, the fact that you are reading this post suggests that knitting is important to you. The proprietors of knitting shops know and respect that. They are there to help decipher patterns, start projects, run knitting groups, put the pot of coffee on...the list is fairly long. But more than any of that, they play host to a support group that requires nothing but your presence.
We all struggle with things. There is a huge range of struggle, and perspective is helpful when dealing with the small stuff. However, we feel what we feel and sometimes it's hard to get past the small stuff. I have had two children and am about a year removed from the birth of my second son. What I have personally been struggling with lately are the changes that have happened to my body. I breast fed for a year and struggled with one breast being significantly larger than the other, to the point my shirt pulled awkwardly to one side. And while I've lost the baby weight, my stomach muscles were stretched, along with my skin, and I do not feel great when I look in the mirror. And now that I've stopped breast feeding and my hormones are shifting once again, my face has broken out like a teenage girl. Shouldn't having two children give you a free pass on acne? I am extremely lucky, I have a supportive husband who thinks I am beautiful no matter what. And I can acknowledge that these problems I am struggling with are SO small compared to the struggles of others, but that does not boost my self-esteem when I peek in the mirror and am shocked by the angry red bumps on my face, my now crazy hair, and my strange stomach skin.
Why do I mention any of this? Because when I walked in to my knitting store last week, I found a group of ladies sitting around a table, knitting and chatting, who made me feel GOOD. Many of them knew exactly how I felt, and we were able to joke about our spreading hips and changed sizes. They understood. Simply sitting with people I knew had gone through something similar helped me. I didn't need much, I just needed a little boost. And I am confident even if I had a problem none of the knitters at that table had experienced, they would listen, help, offer advice...whatever I needed. Sometimes we need someone to tell us we are being ridiculous, sometimes we need somewhere to go where we can cry over an empty nest or the loss of gluten in a diet. And it doesn't have to be a struggle that pulls up our chair to a knitting table, it can be achievements and joys, too. Having a baby? Knitters love babies. Getting a puppy or cat? Knitters love pets, too.
My point is that without a knitting shop, there would be no place for this kind of unique community. Knitting tables at the back of shops across the globe host people from all different age groups, background, ideologies...but people are brought together by a craft and that craft opens doors to communication. With two toddlers, I do not get out much, but when I do, I love the feeling the yarn shop gives me, the strength it lends me, the understanding it provides. But this community cannot exist without support. If we fail to shop at our local stores, they go away. The owners are generous, but they need to eat, too. And when a yarn shop's doors close, you are not just losing a retail store, you are losing a wealth of knowledge and experience that could have been shared. So next time you are able, perhaps you have a birthday coming up or a little extra cash in your purse, stop by your local yarn store. Buy some needles, some yarn, some cute project bags- whatever tickles your fancy. Then, sit. Sit and talk with the ladies and men that are in the store and get lost in a group that asks very little of you but is willing to give you so much. And when you get up to leave, thank the owner of that store for providing a safe place for this kind of creative community to exist.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that it takes a village to raise a knitter. Let's help keep those villages alive.