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Flashback to last May

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11 years:

I think I will perpetually be awake at 1:06 am, just because. Maybe it is going to be a good thing, maybe I will find my soul and voice at 2:07....or, maybe I'll just start another day tired and introspective.

I've started to get up, get out of bed, leave the quietly snoring hubby and furry people when the clock keeps flashing new numbers and I'm still awake to watch. I'm getting up. I used to be completely annoyed that they were so blissfully snoring and I was so PROFOUNDLY wide awake. But maybe that is the trick, maybe this is my time to figure out how to really be awake. I'm writing more, and that is a a good thing. I used to write a ton. I was even good, or at lest my mom thought so, but then I stopped. I stopped taking the time to be still long enough for my thoughts to get out in complete sentences. I jotted sound bites. I embraced Facebook for its short spaces. But now I think it's time to write more.

And so here I am. Wide awake. Writing.

Today marks a real milestone, we will celebrate 11 years of my business, Knitting Addiction. Eleven years, wow, that's a long time.

When I started thinking about this crazy yarn store scheme it was an idea on a scrap of paper. I was just too tired of fighting the administration at school to keep on going. I was teaching at the middle school (or attempting to teach) and the then administration was doing everything in its power to make me lose the love of teaching kids. The tests, the politics, the few stinky kids who got away with everything because the administration was too spineless to work harder. I sat at the dinner table with tears in my eyes and begged my sweet guy to let me do something else. I needed to do something else. Something that I could believe in.

Long hours ensued. We talked for hours about the idea of a yarn store. We were living on the Outer Banks and there was not a yarn store. I was avidly knitting and had to order yarn or make a road trip to get what I needed. We needed a yarn store on the beach, I needed a yarn store.

The planning really didn't take long, we are kind of known for jumping first and looking back later. And looking back, I'm glad I jumped.

I'll skip the dull stuff like banks and loans and rental contracts. I skip the worst of the sleepless nights...see not a new thing. I'll jump forward to a long conversation with an amazing person who took the time to talk with me about what it would really take to open a yarn store. Not the glossy answer in the trade publications, the real answer of, 'Yes, it can be done, and you don't have to have $100,000 to do it." I will forever have a kind word for the then owner of Mystic River Yarns, for taking the time to talk to the new kid and encourage me to take the leap.

Just a reminder, I was a school teacher. No business background, never even worked retail, never stood behind a cash register, total newbie. Scary. The first yarn order happened at my kitchen island, me with a giant binder of color cards and the phone and a legal tablet. Sweet guy mixing martinis as quickly as I could drink them. Seven thousand dollars worth of yarn later...wholesale.... I was done. Oh my god, what have I done? Am I really going to leave the comfort and cushion of teaching school to go out and open a business that I know nothing about? Yep. I was.

The space was rented, we were painting and making improvements, and I was going jumping. When those first boxes of yarn arrived at the house I couldn't imagine what on earth I was going to do with them. Small children could have been packed away for inter-continental travel in those boxes...That was a LOT of yarn. And then we took it to the space, freshly painted and furnished with items pilfered from the house and treasures from second hand stores, and we unpacked. Maybe not as much yarn as I thought. But we took the leap. Made plans for a soft opening, evenings and weekends while I finished out the school year, little baby steps before I jumped full in. And they came, the shoppers came and shopped and aside from the gentleman who compared the shop to a bowling alley - there was a little room to spare- they were happy, and they shopped. And little by little I started to figure out what I was doing.

I started teaching people to knit. I loved then, and I still love today, the joy of watching someone learn to knit. When the mechanics of the stitch transitions from clumsy and tentative to smooth and fluid, when the fabric under their fingers transitions from lumpy and raw to smooth and even, when the new knitter can smile and knit at the same time, that is a magic moment. I've taught hundreds, maybe thousands of people to knit and I never loose the wonder of the transition.

Today (ok, yesterday) I taught a very clever young knitter to turn the heel on her first sock. I watched as she worked through the heel flap and the started the short row heel, and then it happened, the magic moment when she realized that her sock was really taking shape. There was going to be a heel and it was going to fit her foot and she was knitting a SOCK! It was magic. I hope I never loose the magic of teaching. I hope that in 11 more years I'm sitting with another new knitter and teaching short rows or how to knit continental, or just how to cast on and knit. There is a little bit of magic In the sticks and string. And today, that is what I get to celebrate. The bit of magic that has come from 11 years of hard work, blood, sweat and lots of tears. I get to celebrate the magic that gets me up in the morning after a sleepless night to go and hang out with other people who like sticks or hooks and string as much as I do.

Wow, 11 years, that's a lot of magic. Thanks for being along for the journey.

In sticks and string- xoxo-j


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