Unraveled

Earlier this month I visited Merrickville with Yvonne and Francine.

view from our parking spot in Merrickville

Our goal was simple: to visit Unraveled, a lovely new-to-me yarn store. Beckie is now carrying my patterns and I wanted to tell you a bit about the store, in case you happen to be in the area. If you’re anywhere close by, I know you’d want to stop in!

I’ve done a little Q&A with Beckie about her store and a bit about herself, with pictures of the store so you can see how much she’s managed to fit in.

Beckie, it was a pleasure visiting your store in November. Since Unraveled is a relatively new store, can you tell me how you got started?

It was a tough decision to take a leap and start my own business, I left a job and boss that I really loved.

My parents were business owners so I grew up with it and knew that it was tough, but that owning my own business could also could be really rewarding and satisfying.  My Mom has been a constant source of wisdom, therapy and support through this huge undertaking – I could not have done it without her and wouldn’t want to.
I loved knitting and all things fibre and knew that if I did go into business it would be a knitting and fibre shop, and I knew that if I was to take the plunge it would be in Merrickville.  The town has always been a place where art, artists and handmade was of value – it’s a great venue for a wool shop.  I live in the area and knew that there was a gap for a great wool store in the vicinity and decided when the right space came up for rent that I would need to seriously consider following that dream.  The locals have been overwhelmingly welcoming and generous, I’m very lucky.
I found the right location, and then the name of the store just kind of came to me when I was telling my brother and sister-in-law what I thought I wanted to do.  Unraveled for anyone who knows me is a state of mind I frequent – I’m very high-strung but a bit chaotic when I work and tend to become a bit unraveled.   The rest is history.  I gave my notice at work – tears and all, and set out to create my dream knitting store.

You’ve got such a wide selection of wonderful yarn (Rowan, Habu, Lorna’s Laces, Fleece Artist, Indigodragonfly, Noro, Shibui and much more). How do you decide what to bring in?

My rule in buying for the store is simple – if I don’t love it, it doesn’t come in the door. Rowan was an easy choice, I fall in love with everything they do; Habu is just so different and quirky that I had to have it; indigodragonfly, Fleece Artist, Koigu and Lorna’s Laces are some of the best hand dyed yarns in the industry in my opinion.  Everything else is just a matter of wanting for something and then going after it when I find it.

Most of my suppliers would probably agree that if I have a strong feeling against something there would be no pushing me into it – it’s the same for everything.  I can’t stand behind a product I’m not excited about and it’s very evident from what sells and what does not in store on a day to day basis.  If I love something I can barely stand still when I talk about it.  I knit from everything I carry in the store, and it’s exactly what I wanted when I set out to do this – love everything in it, and smile every time I pass by those shelves.

How did you get started knitting?

I started knitting to get through a tough time, and to channel some stress both personally and professionally.  I’ve always been pretty hyper, and couldn’t just sit and be content – knitting ended up being a great outlet for pent up energy, and peace of mind.  I found that I could clear my head and just relax when needles and yarn were in hand.  I’m more of a process knitter than a product knitter – I knit to knit and not necessarily to make.  Making is a really really nice by-product of the act of knitting :-)  I find I don’t enjoy it as much when I’m deadline knitting.

My Grandmother was an amazing knitter – I don’t really remember a time with her that didn’t see her clicking needles together.  I still have all of the items she knit for me growing up and have a large chest full of knit Barbie clothes she made.  I had the best dressed Barbies on the block!  She would have loved the store.

My Mom is also a great knitter – very precise and will rip back until it is perfect.  I grew up in hand knits and handmade clothing; I have a deep appreciation now for all of the time my Mom took in making things for my brother and I.  I know now I should not have given her so much grief about trying on clothes with needles still in them!

What is your favourite type of knitting?

I usually pick patterns to knit that involve some sort of stitch or technique i’ve never done before – it keeps me interested.  I’m not very happy when it’s just endless stockinette.  I really enjoy knitting lace; there is something very satisfying about working my way through charts, and interesting combinations of stitches.  There is something so exciting about binding off a shawl that’s been all bunched up on the needles to see it falling off stitch by stitch and starting to take shape.  I seem to be the only one in my household that truly appreciates that act and excitement – my pup Oliver just wants to lay on top of the project and Josh just thinks it looks like the last one I knit :-)

My Mom thinks this is hilarious – the daughter who could never sit still and who she calls ‘twitchy’ loves to work complicated stitch patterns.

I’ve seen that you also have spinning wheels and lovely fibers at the store, so I’m guessing you are a spinner too. How long have you been spinning?

I’ve only been spinning for about a year and a half – it’s my ‘coma’ time.  I find it so relaxing and calming.

How many wheels do you have?
I have two – my go-to wheel is a Schacht Sidekick, the other is an Ashford Country.  The Sidekick allows me to travel easily between the store and home and is highly functional as an all round performer.

What type of spinning do you tend to do?
Haha, pretty inconsistent thick and thin is probably what comes off my bobbins the most.  I would say my most comfortable spinning is done at a DK / Worsted weight.  I would love to be able to spin a nice consistent sock weight eventually but I won’t hold my breath.

I have some really talented spinners for customers so I’ve been very lucky to gleam all the tips and tricks I can from them when they drop in!  Knitters and spinners are so encouraging and patient when someone needs help troubleshooting!

What else should people know about you and your store?

That’s tough!  I guess I would want people to know that I truly love and care for all of the products that are in the store, they are really well taken care of and that the best is yet to come.
I was surprised I guess over the past few months at the number of friends I’ve made through the store.  Nothing makes my day like a finished project being proudly shown by the knitter or spinner from something i’ve sold them.  There is something so incredibly satisfying about the life cycle of a project and knowing that although I did not spin, dye, or work with that yarn, my tiny part in the evolution of it was enough for someone to make the trip back to show me.  It’s one of those things that immediately makes me shake my head at the end of the day and say “wow, how cool is my job?”.

The people that frequent Unraveled are top notch sweethearts.  I can always get a hug if I’m having a bad day, have a cup of tea with someone who is seaming something for me “the right way”, and get a lot of laughs from the amazing people who pop in to say hi because they were passing by.  It’s hard to let them know how truly touched I am by the kindness, and openness they show me – I guess I’d like everyone to know how very blessed I feel that they are a part of my day to day life.

And since you were afraid this wouldn’t be interesting, what’s the most interesting/unusual thing about you?

That’s tough too!  This is the part where I get really self-conscious, and go deep inside myself and think “nothing really”.  I guess I could just share another couple of passions of mine here?  Besides knitting, the one thing that drives me to work hard is the time I get to play.  I love to travel, it’s ‘wanderlust’ really.  I start to plan our next adventure the minute we start one – I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world and have seen some really incredible things.

I’m also really into following the international sailing circuits – the Vendee Globe is happening right now and I’m totally hooked every 4 years.  If I’m not cruising Ravelry these days at the store I’m watching the weather and GPS updates from the race.  My Dad’s love of sailing and water really caught with me too and it was something we used to follow and do together.  My sailing skills are definitely lacking for international waters, but I’d be happy to one day end up on a boat full time – I just worry about where my stash would go :-)

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2 Responses to Unraveled

  1. Anja says:

    Brilliant post. Brilliant store. I wanna go baaack!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Two words: road trip!