Montgomery Needs a Yarn Store

By on 27 March, 2018 in Kate and Stephen with 3 Comments

Recently I took up a new hobby. I decided to start knitting.

I love to make things – that’s part of why I like to cook so much, and I decided that it might be nice to have something to do with my hands while I was watching Netflix or just relaxing at the end of a long day. But I didn’t know how to knit, so I did the modern thing and asked my Facebook friends about it. The universal consensus was that the Internet could teach me. So I started to consume knitting videos on YouTube. It turns out that there are many, many thousands of these, demonstrating everything from basic concepts all the way up to super advanced stuff. As you might imagine, they range from the well produced to the endearingly homemade, but one thing these videos all have in common is that they are sort of soothing. It’s hard to overstate the sedative effect of watching someone very slowly work stitches while murmuring into the camera, particularly if they have a British accent.

I was a bit ambitious at first – I decided that I would make a sweater! I ordered a kit online that came with wool, a pattern, and some needles. When it arrived, I quickly realized that I was out of my league. I decided to make a scarf instead, and ordered a kit from a different store. This was more my speed. I watched a few videos very carefully and gave it a go. It turned out better than I thought it might, and although it’s not winning any prizes for beauty, it will keep my neck warm next winter.

Montgomery doesn’t have a yarn store, but Birmingham has two, so when I was up there last month I went to Knit Happenz over in Vestavia Hills to check out the scene. There were a number of people there, sitting around a table and knitting. All around the shop were tall shelves full of very colorful yarn. For the first time, I understood what my friend had told me about being “into” yarn. I wanted to knit all of these things, especially the fine and soft ones. The ladies there were super nice, as I confessed that I didn’t know anything about knitting. They spent a lot of time with me picking out new needles (they come in sizes, who knew?) and a pattern pamphlet for knitting types of scarves. Although they took some things for granted (it turns out it’s surprisingly hard to read a knitting pattern), they were very accommodating. They even took out washcloths done in different patterns and gave me printed out patterns for the ones I liked. I left with some yarn for a scarf and some plain cotton yarn for practice on washcloths. I’d absolutely go back, and I wish there was a place here in town where I could go when I need to troubleshoot my knitting.

Cats love knitting!

For now, I rely on the magic of the Internet to teach me the difference between the look of a knit stitch and the look of a purl stitch. And I’m making my second sweater, but slowly this time – there’s no need to rush through like I did the first time. Part of what makes knitting enjoyable is throwing yourself into the process, making repetitive motions, getting deep into the trance mode that the work induces. It’s meditative, and I’m just sorry I didn’t take it up earlier in life. Even though I recently had to unravel the work of a whole week just because of a dropped stitch, I still enjoy it.

I know I’m not the only knitter in Montgomery. Isn’t there a critical mass to support a yarn shop? I know there’s a place that supports needlepoint out East – can’t we also have a place to go for patterns and yarn? The Internet is no substitute for the kind of learning you can get in person. I know this because even after watching a dozen videos my purl stitch was still backwards. It took forever to troubleshoot that – something that a seasoned eye would have caught in a second. Without a shop, though, there is still some community around the “fiber arts.” The South Alabama Fiber Arts Guild (SAFE) tells me that they meet at the Panera on Carter Hill on Tuesdays from 5-9, so maybe next time I need some help or just want some company for knitting, I can go and see them.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with one cat, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. cherl says:

    Kate,
    I feel your pain.( about yarn shopes) I recently moved to Dothan Al from up north,and I don’t mean northern Al. I’m talking up north, Rhode Island. Finding yarn here is impossible and yes I am a yarn snob. I had three just in my small town. All I can say I’m grateful that i have a very large stach,cause without a 3 hour tour to Birmingham I would be out of luck. So keep trying to get a shop in Montgomery and I will probably be the first one there… keep knitting it’s not a hobby it’s a post apocalyptic skill…lol

  2. admin says:

    Update to say that JoAnn Fabrics out east has some yarn, but I wasn’t super impressed with the selection.

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