If you follow this column on an even semi-regular basis, you know my about my artistic limitations. I find drawing, painting, and the like incredibly beneficial – necessary, even.
I’m just not good at it.
Nestled within that aforementioned group is the art of knitting. Although my mother is superb at knitting’s cousin, sewing – and I’m sure she’s got the chops to make a respectable pair of socks, the talent apparently didn’t trickle down the bloodline. Yet I found myself drawn to Plymouth’s Old Village Yarn Shop one recent afternoon.
And boy did I find yards and yards of pure, unrestricted colorful fun.
I was greeted by a pair of sales specialists – Anne Varner and Cindy Tebor – who are also expert knitters (Tebor is also a knitting instructor.) Both women are hospitable, witty, and extremely knowledgeable – they’re like the Laverne and Shirley of quilting.
And they can be very persuasive.
“You should try it [knitting],” Varner says to me after she learns that I’m expecting my first child.
“You could make a baby blanket,” Tebor offers casually while holding up the most adorable tiny pastel example.
I tell them that they don’t understand, that blankets are supposed to have four corners and that with my lack of skills, mine is liable to come out with five. I expect them to be deterred by my ineptitude; but they’re not.
“Oh, well, no problem,” Varner says, waving an airy hand. “That kind of blanket is called a pentagon.”
Varner then leads me on a tour of the shop. Color is everywhere, kind of like a dry Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, although it is in no way distracting. It’s rather soothing. In fact, I tell Tebor that the buttons she’s chosen to adorn the baby sweater she has just completed resemble those fruity Spree candies. Varner and Tebor then school me on some very important knitting lingo: A skein is pre-wound yarn; a hank is yarn that comes in a big loop and is then wound into ball; open work is when an article has intentional patterned holes.
Oh, and then there’s tink, which means to undo what you’ve knitted in the event of a mistake. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that tink is knit spelled backward. “We tink – on occasion,” Tebor confesses. “A good knitter is a good tinker.”
Tebor went on to say that you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes, and that what you make doesn’t have to be perfect. “A pattern is just a blueprint; it’s just a guide to where you want to go.”
The Old Yarn Village Shop offers a gamut of classes, and their class schedule is based around the seasons. There are classes for beginners, advanced, intermediate, and more – and they boast cool names, like “Wrap Me Up,” which teaches the ins and outs of knitting a stunning wrap; at “Itty Bitty Knits students will learn how to create a hat, toy, or layette item for their favorite little one; there’s even “Knitters Eve Out” where knitters can talk, shop, and enjoy catered food. If knitters can’t seem to complete a special something they’ve been working on, they can bring it to the “UFO Club,” which stands for Unfinished Objects.
If cool classes, copious amounts of charm, and a homey, inviting setting isn’t enough to entice you to visit Old Village Yarn Shop, the sheer depth of the staff’s knitting know-how is as good a reason as any. The staff possesses over 150 years of experience between them. Leading the staff is Martha Amberg, who has owned the shop for 10 years. Tebor characterizes her as “Wonder Woman with a tremendous color sense.”
It is abundantly clear that Old Village Yarn Shop staff members love what they do. Perhaps that’s because so much good comes from it.
“Knitting has helped me to be kinder to myself,” says Tebor.
“My husband says it’s the cheapest therapy in the world,” says Varner with a laugh. “It’s just a way to share and do something together.”