Monday, November 16, 2009

Shepherd's Choice-Anoka Part 2

Hi Knitters,
Get ready for a long one today with lots of photos! Tomorrow I will post part 3!

First off, I have found something out. Little kids LOVE the tiniest doll inside the Matryoshka, Russian Nesting Dolls. I mean just look at that little girl in the photo above. What a sincere reaction! Little ones want to keep the tiny doll and tuck it in their hand or pocket. It is so fun watching this.

The reaction I've been seeing reminded me that I always liked the tiniest doll, too. I remember unstacking the dolls and anxiously trying to get to the tiniest one, the tinier the doll the more exciting the whole thing was. Do you remember doing that? In fact, I don't think I even owned a set of Russian Nesting Dolls growing up but I remember lucky friends sharing their sets with me. Now I have a few sets of nesting dolls and it never gets old. When the adult knitters see this set in person they immediately dig in and stack and pull apart the dolls. I love it.
Anyway, to step back a moment, I arrived at Shepherd's Choice, a brand new yarn shop in the quaint downtown of Anoka, Minnesota. The store was already packed full of people. I got the honor of attending the shop's grand opening and it was the most amazing event. The shop is extraordinary, beautiful, well-stocked, organized, warm and most importantly, welcoming. The excitement was running so high inside those doors. I was pulled inside and surrounded by the most fun, funny, happy group of knitters ever. They enveloped the shop and me with love and joy. The owner, Kathy, is something really special. She has the sweetest face and way about her. Kathy has her own yarn line and soap and lotion products all under the name Shepherd's Choice. I bought some of her beautiful wool and will share that later with you.

The one thing I want to point out about Shepherd's Choice is that it is an online shop, too. The shop hosts the entire line from Blue Sky Alpacas AND Spud & Chloë!! You can order it all right here. You can also order Kathy's incredible soaps and lush lotions and moisturizers and believe me, they smell so good. I was gifted a cake of the cinnamon soap (thank you, Ali!) and I felt like taking a bite. mmmmm....

In the photo directly above I want to point out that by the front door (left in the photo) is Kate from Knits in Class (with the short dark hair) and her cute mom (in front of the door). They came from St. Paul and it was fantastic to meet her in person.
Here's the mom to this cute blonde pair. These kids enjoyed the toy table so much. They circled about and tried and touched everything.
I signed and chatted and hugged the knitters. What a warm, friendly crowd. I literally felt like I was home. Be sure to look at the background of these photos. The store has a warm golden tin high ceiling and the walls are painted in creams and peaches and honey and pumpkin shades. The displays are gorgeous and the walls of yarn incredible.
Right behind me is the wall of soaps and other sundries. What a great addition to a yarn shop. Knitters love stuff like this. My sweet friend Rachel Russ took all of the photos for me during the event. She is a staff member at Blue Sky Alpacas and this is her local yarn shop. She designs lots of patterns for Blue Sky and Spud & Chloë. Those leg warmers from the last post are her design. She is a talented soul with four children and she home schools all of them (I just pack lunches, the home schoolers put me to shame:). Rachel also has knitted about four Tiny Turkeys and a couple of Ribbits for the shop. That was fun to see. Thanks for being the photographer, Rachel. Now I have photos to cherish.
Here is Awilda and her beautiful daughter. This is her Ravelry link! Awilda just finished the tote bag from Itty-Bitty Nursery! Love it! See how that side pocket fits her water bottle perfectly? Oh yeah. Her daughter is wearing the Upside Down Daisy Hat from Itty-Bitty Hats and she is adorable. Awilda hung out and looked like she was having the best time. I loved meeting her and I want to thank her for coming and spending time with me and for sharing her knitting with me. Awilda is cute and so proud of her sweet daughter.I am reaching in for a hug from Merri. I finally got to meet Merri who is a newer staff member at Blue Sky. I have just started working with her on a few new projects for the Spud & Chloë pattern line. She is wonderful and she just sent me a big box of Outer yarn. You gotta like that. That's her daughter and her husband's head. She was great to meet and I am glad I got the chance to meet her family, too.

You know it is always kind of strange to work with people and not get to see them in person or even just to see what they look like. I am a visual person so I love seeing people in person. I am always making my editor at Artisan, Trent, describe what people look like or tell me how old they are. I need an image in my head for some reason. Poor Trent:)
Okay, here are some more fantastic designers and knitters. Ali Williams is better known as Skeins Her Way. Ali is next to me. She is so supportive and fun. She has seven kids and home schools and knits and designs on top of all of that. What fun to meet her in person. She has done a lot of design work for Blue Sky Alpacas. Check out her site, along with her free hat pattern on the sidebar. It is really cute. Ali gifted me the cinnamon soap and be sure to look at the background of the photo above. It is so beautiful inside this shop. There is a kitchen area where Kathy makes all of these products out of the purest ingredients. Her yarns, Shepherd's Choice, are all dyed with natural dyes only and they are gorgeous.

The other lovely knitter (standing behind) is none other than The Blonde Knitter. She does a ton of test knitting for Blue Sky Alpacas. What a fun knitter she is, she never stopped smiling the entire event and she stayed until the end. I loved it. Her 16 year old daughter is really cute and you can see her modeling on her blog. Her ravelry page is here. You should check out her knitting, you will be impressed. She home schools her daughter, too.
This is Colleen checking out Sylvia's Cat and Mouse Toy. Colleen is the CFO for Blue Sky and I get to see her lovely signature on my paychecks. Love you, Colleen!! She is fun and nice and down to earth. One of her kids is getting married next summer and she is so excited. She was off after the event to make dinner for her family after their deer hunting day. She's the salt of the earth and fun to talk to. Colleen has done some sock and glove designs for Spud & Chloë. I got a sneak peek at her upcoming sock design and you are going to love it. She is smart and talented and fun! Thanks for coming, Colleen.

Colleen is trying to figure out that reversible toy. Sylvia Hager knit that sample toy for me and I usually stitck the two characters together at the top so they don't pull out but it is kind of fun to see it pulled apart like that.
Yes, there were more babies at the event. This is Sylvia (Ali's sister), another Blue Sky employee but now she is a stay at home mommy with her adorable, sweet daughter, Lizzie. Sylvia has done tons of designing for Blue Sky through the years and she has recently done the Playground Hoodie and the Lovey Dovey top for Spud & Chloë. Sylvia has started a new blog and you should really take the time to check it out. It is called, Fresh Maked and it is a good one. Check out her reversibles, too.
I knitted the Upside Down Daisy Hat as a baby gift for Lizzie when she was born. That is fun to see her wearing it so cutely.
Okay, look at the loft area in this photo. Kathy hired musicians to play and sing. It was lovely and added so much to the festive atmosphere. There was wine and food, too. It was an energy of happiness and excitement for this new shop! It is difficult to describe. On the left side of the loft, which also houses lots and lots of yarn, there were two people spinning on wheels the entire time. I would love to spin someday....if only I had time. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in this space.
This was an exciting visitor to meet! It's Susan from the Rainey Sisters blog!! She brought her two Elefantes (my free pattern-see the sidebar!) for me to enjoy. Boy, was this a treat. If you don't read this blog you just have to pop over and indulge yourself for a bit. These two sisters are knitters like no one's business. I have loved their blog for a long time now.

Oh, I just popped over to get her link and Susan has already posted on meeting me! That's a weird blog coincidence, right? Her photo is way better than mine, too. (I have to laugh, I just read that I look better in person than in the photo. That's too good and it makes me laugh.) Thank you, Susan, for the support and coming to see me and the blog post! You are incredible and what an honor. Here is the Rainey Sisters blog. Go check it out! The photo for their header is Susan and her sister in the 1970's and it is one of the best headers out there. I love looking at that photo.

Edited to add: Check out Susan of the Rainey Sisters Santa from Itty-Bitty Toys! It is fantastic and she is going to put it on her Christmas mantle this holiday season.
I even got to hold sweet baby, Lizzie, in her Itty-Bitty Hat!
That's right, I put lots of photos of this baby in! Isn't she cute? I loved her sweet little body. I got to hold her for awhile and that always makes my day. I love the babies. Never hesitate to bring your babies or kids to any event of mine. They make my day!
I want to be sure to include my sweet Anoka girl, Annie or Lesli (on the left), she goes by both. Her blog is on my sidebar and she does a wonderful job. She hasn't posted lately but it is worth the time to look back through her entries. She is busy working full-time as a school librarian in Anoka along with taking care of her two kids. She has made the effort to come and see me three times now at events. I appreciate the effort and support and I was crossing my fingers you would come. That is Lesli's fun, nice sister who also knits. I was happy to meet her, too.
Really, the store is so artistically and beautifully displayed. The space is huge and airy and warm. You can really move around and play with the yarns and products. There is no clutter at all but yet the shop is stocked to the brim, overflowing with oodles of luscious yarns. I didn't want to leave here, ever.
There is a knit night on Thursday nights and if I was in the area I would be there. There were my Knit Chickens in the window along with the Tiny Turkeys, all dressed for the fall season.
Like Susan from the Rainey Sisters said, this was an EVENT!

Thank you for everything and the loving response. What a great group of knitters. You don't know how lucky you are, really. I hope to come back soon when my next book comes out or even sooner.

My day continued on from here, it wasn't over yet. It took a personal turn at this point. Tomorrow I am going to share a tiny bit of what happened next.... plus I have a couple more photos from earlier in the day to include so look for those, too.

Have a good day, Knitters.
best, susie