Thursday, May 31, 2012

Car Trouble

          Prior to 8:00 p.m. tonight, things were going just swell for this Yarnologist. After a fun day shopping with Amanda, I worked a four hour shift at the store where I was able to chat with the wonderful people who came for Thursday night knitting, help pick out colors of yarn for a project one of our regulars is going to start, and seam up the poncho I’ve been working on for a couple weeks. I felt happy and productive. Listening to our knitters talk and laugh while making progress on their needle work is one of the best and most amusing parts of my job; our Thursday night “group” never disappoints. This all changed, however, when I got to my car… which refused to start. At this point in time we’ve decided it’s the battery (maybe??) and my dad is coming up to Winona tomorrow to help me. As we walked home from the parking lot outside of Yarnology, Amanda, friend/ follow Yarnologist, and I determined it’s ridiculous that we know nothing about cars. Seriously, why did I not pay attention when my dad or step-dad or uncle was tuning up my car or checking it for something? My dad has tried explaining certain things but I end up nodding in false concentration while making a list of things I like more than cars. Stupid me. And now I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs and waiting for my daddy to come rescue me. Those early feminists are rolling in their graves as I type.

            So I’m frustrated and worried about my car and trying to decide whether or not to eat or knit my feelings away. Why can’t everything just work out the way I want it to? ‘Cause life just doesn’t work that way. I’m learning this very quickly. I confess that while I was sitting there in the parking lot, attempting to coax my car to life, I was tempted to pull out the yarn-bombed jeep we have in the back of Yarnology and drive that home. I’m sure it works better than my car does right now. Can you imagine me cruising down Main Street in that thing? Ha! Yeah, that would be pretty awesome.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When in Grief...

           Knitting is comforting. I’ve said it time and again, and wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy. When we’re stressed, anxious, sad, or frustrated the repetitive nature of knitting can relieve some of these feelings, taking our minds off of the things that are troubling us. And I always love seeing my project grow and knowing that I’m being productive; I’m accomplishing something even when other things just aren’t going my way.
          This past weekend, however, was a rare occasion when my philosophy failed me. On Saturday morning, the 26th of May, two of my dogs had to be put to sleep. The days following have been very difficult as I’ve been feeling some guilt and sadness over what had to be done. The shock of the whole situation hasn’t left me. Both Saturday night and Sunday I sought comfort in my work and attempted to lose myself in the back and forth, in and out motion of the needles and yarn. But before long the images of my poor puppies came back to me and I couldn’t to continue. It seemed I couldn’t find peace of mind anywhere. So instead of trying to distract myself, I thought I’d write a little in the attempt of coming to turms with their passing.
            Schissy, some mix of herding dog breeds, was almost sixteen years old and had come to our family when my Dad and step-mom still lived on their dairy farm. We no longer live there, but moved to Sparta WI after struggling with the many expenses that can crop up on an old farm. Schissy belonged to a neighboring farmer who had inherited her from an elder family member. He chained her to a tree day and night and couldn’t seem to understand why she was barking and howling all the time. One day she got loose and for some reason or other ran straight to our farm. She immediately hit it off with the dog we already had and they became fast friends. When the neighbor farmer’s wife came by to pick Schissy up she asked if we would like to keep her. The lady’s husband was getting so sick of all the noise that he was going to shoot her. We didn’t hesitate and soon she was a part of the family, sleeping in my parent’s bedroom and awkwardly herding cows in the wrong direction. See, deep down she knew that she was supposed to do something with those big black and white things, but she had never been trained and just sort of ran them in whatever direction she felt looked best. After returning to our barn one day covered in cow manure my dad laughed and said she was a little schissy (the German word for… well, sh**). The name stuck. We firmly believe that our dogs only understand German (however broken mine sometimes is), and so our dogs aren’t really dogs at all, they’re hunde. We always referred to Schissy as the “tante hunt”, or aunt of the rest of our dogs. When our first dog had a litter of puppies, Schissy had as much or more to do with their bringing up than the rightful mother did. She scolded, herded, licked, and protected those puppies like they were her own. Down to her very last day.

          My Schnappi was one of those puppies that Schissy bossed around. The baby of our first dog, Schnappi has been mine almost since she was born. My sister and I visited my dad on the farm a few weeks later and we were given the opportunity to choose our very own dogs out of the ten that had survived. At that time we thought that Schnappi was the runt, though she grew larger than many of the others. She was brindle in color, like her mom, but had a thicker coat almost like a German shepherd. I can remember holding her in the palm of my hand and gently rubbing her tiny silky ears. Even then they were a little too big for her head. She never grew into those big floppy ears. It was one of my favorite things about her. Schnappi’s name was originally Maxine Anne (don’t ask me how I came up with that at the age of nine; my cat, adopted around the same time is Agatha Jane. It seems I have a thing for old names… haha). When Schnappi got a little older we noticed her doing something strange when she was excited or happy: she would snap. Never maliciously done, these snaps, or schnaps in German (are we noticing a pattern here?), were her way of saying “I love you”. Eventually, her nickname trumped the one she was christened with in the beginning. Schnappi spent the first few years of her life on the dairy farm running with the other dogs through the woods to chase coyotes, playing with us outside in the summer, and curled up in front of the wood stove in the winter. Though I only spent every third weekend with my dad during that time, Schnappi never forgot me or the fact that she was mine. We had an understanding; I knew that dog like the back of my hand. After twelve years that never changed. Schnappi was one of my best friends and will always be my baby. Which is why, when I got the phone call that she needed to be put to sleep, I didn’t hesitate to go and be with her. She needed me there as much as I needed her to know I loved her and hadn’t abandoned her. When the moment came I laid down next to her and told her how she was the best girl, the best baby and that I loved her so much. I talked to her until she was gone and then I buried my face in her fur and let go of all the tears I had been holding in. I confess, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but I don’t regret being there for a second.  

         Though it’s been a few days since my hunde slipped away to the big farm in the sky, the sadness is still there and will be for quite some time, I’m sure. Eventually I won’t feel the sharp pang that comes when I think about them and the memories won’t be bittersweet but will only make me smile. And of course, my knitting will once again provide solace.
        This is Schissy in better days. She used to be quite the chubber. :) But SUCH a loving dog!

My beautiful Schnappi.

Schnappi and I cuddling a couple years back. :)

My dad on the farm with our dogs.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yarn Bombed

My job is never boring. Honestly. Even on a slow day at Yarnology there is always something to keep us busy and entertained. The creativity never ceases to permeate the air and that usually results in fun, often wacky projects. Today was one of those days. This past week I was visiting my home town, spending Mother’s Day with my mom and seeing lots of friends and family. After being gone for so long I wasn’t sure what would be waiting for me when I walked through Yarnology’s doors. There’s always a possibility of being greeted by new yarn, new pattern books, new designer bags. But today, that wasn’t the case. That’s way too predictable. There on the floor of the shop is my friend and fellow Yarnologist Amanda in the process of covering an old Fisher-Price car with swatches of yarn. Hmmm. Not your usual work-day activity. Then again, this isn’t your usual place of work. To make a long story short, it was our job today to “yarn-bomb” this car which will be featured in an upcoming window display (regulars to our shop, just you wait! It’s going to be awesome!).
           For anyone who doesn’t know what yarn-bombing is, I’ll try and explain myself. Yarn-bombing is basically harmless graffiti. It’s also referred to as yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting or graffiti knitting, according to Wikipedia (I know, I know, I’m using Wikipedia. Didn’t I learn anything researching papers in college? Obviously not.) Knitters go around to different public places and wrap, cover, adorn things in yarn or knitted pieces. It’s more fun if you do this in secret, preferably at night in order to catch the unsuspecting citizen off guard. Who wouldn’t be surprised to drive down the street and see benches, trees, and light poles decorated in colorful fiber? That’s the kind of thing that makes an average day just a little bit better. Yarn-bombing a public place is technically illegal. Technically. It has become amazingly popular recently though, and you don’t often hear about anyone getting in trouble for it. The fact is, this type of “graffiti” is ten times less troublesome than spray paint or chalk and let’s be honest, it’s pretty darn cool. Winona has seen occasional yarn-bombing in the past and I’m sure there will be more in the future, so keep your eyes out for anything colorful and fuzzy in places where it’s not supposed to be. Some of our customers have taken notice of the craze and one regular gifted us with an actual yarn bomb. Literally. A bomb… made of yarn (ha!).

        I sat there this afternoon, crocheting swatches of yarn onto this car, and I confess, I couldn’t help laughing to myself. Yes, I WAS getting paid to yarn-bomb a car. How great is that. Another reason why I can’t help loving my job.

These are just a few examples I found online that I just needed to share! :) Hopefully they will inspire some crafty people to start yarn-bombing!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hello everyone! This is my first blog post EVER and I’m so excited that this is finally getting off the ground! Writing a blog about my experiences working in a yarn store and of being a part of the knitting community in general is an idea that’s been thrown around for quite some time. So here it is, my first experiment with blogging. I hope you enjoy!

         School has been in my life since I literally can remember. And in two short days I will be finished. Forever. Unless I suddenly gain motivation and apply for grad school. Lately, when asked the question if I’m going to get my masters I politely smile and say no, I’m happy where I am. I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from the whole education thing. Yes, I enjoyed my time in classrooms; the feeling of learning something that I actually want to learn is great. But I feel like I’m not ambitious enough for a master’s program. Especially in the subject I decided three and a half years ago to dedicate myself to: literature. I lack ambition to get to the top; I get comfortable, find out what makes me happy and that’s what I stick with. Not many people understand this philosophy, however. Some of my best friends still shake their heads when I say I have no desire to climb either the professional or social ladder. If that doesn’t make me happy, why do it? It seems so simple to me.

            In the preparation for graduation more people than ever have asked me what I’m planning to do once I’m pushed out of the bird’s nest that is Winona State University. It’s the real world! You should go apply for tons of jobs, get rejected by almost all of them, go through crappy interviews, cry yourself to sleep because you can’t find a job, settle for something that is marginally related to your degree, and spend the next five years searching for something better. Why?? For the last year and a half I have worked a job that makes me insanely happy. Yes, it also reinforced a somewhat unhealthy addiction, but hey, we can’t win every battle. I am an official Yarnologist in Winona Minnesota at the local yarn store, Yarnology. I first came to Gaby and Kelly, the two owners of this wonderful place, as a junior at WSU. Halfway through my third year of higher education I came to the unfortunate realization that my savings was rapidly depleting and I needed to find a job. Magically, I was told about Winona’s new yarn shop on a visit to another such store with my aunt and grandmother. Knitting sort of runs in my family. My German grandmother, who I call Oma, taught me to knit and purl when I was around nine or ten years old. Over the years I’ve set it down, picked it back up, set it down again. Though I haven’t always been obsessed to the degree I am now, knitting has been a part of my life for a long time. After being told that my adopted home now had a yarn store, I did some research and found Yarnology’s website. It occurred to me that a yarn store could be just about the coolest place to work. After musing out loud to my dad, he encouraged me to call and it wasn’t long before I was talking to Kelly, asking if they could use any part-time help. In a few short weeks I was soaking up the colorful atmosphere that was Yarnology. Since that fateful day, I have learned more about yarn, fiber, customer relations, and friendship than I ever thought possible. I have also become a bit of a “fiber freak” (no offence to other “freaks”; I did not come up with this name, but it’s often given to those of us who could eat, sleep, and breath anything wool related). I could talk forever about the wonderful people I have come to know and love through my job, but I think I’ll have to save that for another day.

            As I sit here contemplating my future and realizing that soon my life will be completely different, all I want to do is unpack my entire stash of yarn and surround myself in its soft, reliable comfort. It occurs to me, as it has to many others I am sure, that yarn is more than just a commodity, something that we buy and sell. It’s soothing; almost every proficient knitter will tell you that knitting is what they do to unwind, to relax and forget the hectic world. But for me it extends beyond that. Just looking at my piles of yarn and thinking about the useful, beautiful things I could and will make with it fills me with happy anticipation, but it also reassures and comforts. In this time of drastic change I know that my love for yarn, knitting, and every aspect of this craft will continue. At this point, I can only imagine it getting stronger. I confess, I may go overboard sometimes, and it doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by temptation every time I go to work. But when it comes to yarn, too much of a good thing is… well, a really good thing.

Wish me luck everyone as I make my leap into the real world. Fortunately, I know my Yarnology family, both coworkers and patrons, will always be there supporting me.