03 August 2015

The End of a Love Affair

Just so you know - this is a long post.  :-)


When The Tim and I moved to Center City Philadelphia so many years ago, we were thrilled that we lived within easy walking distance of so many places and things we liked to do.  Our neighborhood is only a short distance away from all kinds of fun and interesting places, and even if we don't patronize all of them, we are happy that most of them exist.

We moved into our house in December, and after the first of the year, I was walking home and noticed that a yarn store had opened, and it was only a few blocks away!  I went in and looked around, and there were so many beautiful colors and textures.  And the people there were so nice and welcoming, and mentioned that they would be providing knitting classes.  That was extremely exciting to me.

You see, when I was in the eighth grade, one time when I was home sick from school for a few days, Mrs. Regele from across the street came over with a ball of bright red yarn and knitting needles.  She cast on some stitches and taught me the knit stitch.  It was so much fun, and I knitted a very wonky-looking, very long scarf.  Sadly though, by the time I had used up all of the yarn, she and her family had moved away.  I didn't know anyone else that knit and could show me what to do next, so that was that.

Fast forward to being an adult, living in Oak Park, Illinois.  Once when we were at a local strip mall for something, I noticed a Lee Wards (anyone remember them?) with a sign offering knitting classes.  I signed up, and for 4 weeks learned how to cast on, knit, purl, and cable (still one of my faves), and bind off.  I bought some yarn, and made a scarf for The Tim, a scarf for my mother, one for myself, a baby blanket for my then new niece Annie, and a pillow for my sister Mary Ellen.  Each one was mostly garter stitch, but they were all exciting to make, and filled with love for the recipients. I do recall that when I made the two pillow pieces, I had no idea how to join them, so a friend of my mother's did the finishing for me.  

Then we moved to DC, and I didn't know anyone who knit, and it really didn't occur to me that there were yarn stores - you know, other than just places that sold overall craft supplies.  But we had a busy life and I didn't really think at all about knitting, except occasionally when I would see a sweater I liked in a store and wish I could knit sweaters.

So when I saw that Rosie's Yarn Cellar (then called Sophie's Yarns) was right near my house, and they offered lessons, I decided to sign up.  At that time, you learned to knit by knitting a sweater!  (As time went on, they started with smaller items and more basic instructions.)  It was exciting, puzzling, frustrating, and completely addicting.  Lisa Myers, the owner and instructor, was an English Ph.D. who was an amazing knitter, and had decided to leave academia and open a yarn store.  No matter how many times I had the same question over and over, or needed the same help over and over, she would be there, answering and fixing.  If it drove her nuts, she never showed it, and she truly believed that if you wanted to knit something that had a technique you didn't know, you could do it no matter what.  (And I have to say is that, to this day, my knitting limitations are all mine, all in my head.)

I spent way too much time there, bugging Lisa and other staff with questions that I now know were usually very basic, and I have to say, often just kind of stupid.  But the help, encouragement, and friendliness there made it such a wonderful place to be.  There was yarn, needles, classes, other knitters, books, so much to learn all of the time!  Over the years, I spent many happy hours there, even when [most of the time] I would buy nothing, or just something like a stitch holder.  Never did I feel any less important to the shop than those buying hundreds of dollars worth of yarn.

A few years in, Lisa asked me if I would be able/willing to fill in on weekends when people called out sick, or couldn't be there, since I lived so close.  I was *thrilled* that she asked me, and though I didn't feel like a very accomplished knitter, wasn't too worried, because I knew the other person working with me would probably know more.  

A few years after that, they needed someone to work on Sundays, as one of the usual people was no longer able to do so.  I was fortunate enough to be able to do that, and even eventually teach some classes.  I was bus captain a couple of times for the annual trek to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I learned a whole lot more about knitting, yarn, and was enveloped in a universe that I would have never known about.  Rosie's has always been there for me.  When I quit my job a few years back, Lisa arranged for me to pick up more hours so that our finances would not be completely desperate.  

But after Saturday, September 5, Rosie's will no longer exist.  For a myriad of reasons, Lisa made the difficult decision to close the shop just a few months shy of its 20 year anniversary.  

To say I am sad is an understatement.  I am person who gets extremely attached to things and places, and I have been very attached to Rosie's.  It has given me not just a hobby, but a skill that has taught me to be patient and more persevering than ever.  It has given me confidence in my own abilities.  It has allowed me to meet some of the "knitterati" and count them as personal friends.  My world has been exponentially expanded, personally and knitting-ly (I know, not a word).  This blog (which is read by tens of people on its best day) would probably not exist if someone I'd worked with early on didn't keep saying, "God, Bridget, you need a blog if you want to connect with the knitting world!" A lot of people that I think of as good friends are those I met and/or worked with, at Rosie's.

It's also going to be hard for me to convince Dug that we can't go inside any more.  He loved going there, and I have actually had to remember not to walk past there when it's not open, because he just parks himself at the door ... On Sundays, all I'd have to say is "Wanna go to Rosie's?" and he would jump up ready to go (and Dug *never* jumps up otherwise).

Fortunately, there are other yarn stores in Philadelphia (a few from Rosie's alums):  Hidden River Yarns, Loop (also right near me, they are gonna be sorry!), Yarnphoria, and The Tangled Web.  They are all great shops run by nice people, and I'm extremely grateful that they are here.  

But you know how it is - you never get over your first love.  :-)

Thank you Lisa, for changing my life for the good in more ways than I could even count.  I am happy to have you as a friend, and wish you more than the best always.  

I'll still be knitting, and forcing you read about it sharing projects and other ramblings with you, so I'm not disappearing.  Life does go on, after all.  It would just be nicer if the universe did things MY way ... yet, the universe never even asks me for my opinion.  Go figure.


sprite said...

That's so disappointing to hear! Rosie's has an excellent reputation in the mid-Atlantic and I always planned on visiting when I finally got myself to Philly. Alas!

Beth said...

Ah I'm so sad to hear this news. I'd hoped Rosie's would be a regular visit on my returns to Philly.

Lorette said...

I just hate to see nice yarn shops close. I know you can buy pretty much anything you want on the internet, but it isn't the same as squeezing the yarn and talking to other knitters. Sort of like real book stores vs internet megastores.

Bonny said...

I've always been envious of people that have the kind of lys relationship you've had with Rosie's, since I've never lived geographically close to a yarn store. I do offer my sincere sympathy at your loss of that relationship; it's always sad to lose something that's been a big part of your life for a long time. Things would be much improved if the universe did what we wanted! :-)

KSD said...

This breaks my heart, too. Through that door and down those steps, I met you and Dug. And brought you and my best friend together.

Mereknits said...

I totally get it, I mean I really do. Each time a yarn store closes it is so sad. You will find another place to hang out but it won't be the same as a yarn store you consider to be home.
Hugs to you,

Karen Dobkin said...

So, Bid, this means you are available for classes and off-days when Wheeling finally gets its very own yarn store on The Lane? We can all dream - right?

Araignee said...

All the shops in this area have closed over the past few years. It's so sad.

Lorraine said...

Bridget- A yarn shop is so much more. It is a place to share news and projects, it becomes command central in a knitter's world.

So sorry.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that Rosie's is closing. I fondly remember my trip there a couple of years ago and the great parking adventure (Steve got a pricey nasty-gram courtesy of the Philly PD when we were out of our space by 3 LOL).

But, I loved the shop .......I'm so sorry you will be losing your favorite place.

Caffeine Girl said...

So true about your first love! Rosie's sounds like an amazing place that will leave a hole in your heart. But you have learned so much and gained so many skills! There may be another place that needs you!

Anonymous said...

hi bridget...a lovely post of sweet memories and friends made and nurtured...good people beginning with lisa meyers and all those who worked there who were encouraging of your growing knitting ability...wish them all the best...take care...sally

Linda said...

Oh wow, this is awful! I always hate to see yarn shops (or any of my favorite go to places) closing down. In the past few years, I've lost my favorite cross-stitch shop and my favorite B & N location. Yes I have others, but that was like "home" to me... where everyone knew my name! I go to Uniquities yarn shop here in Northern Virginia. I don't even want to think about it not being there anymore - so I hope it is there for many years to come! And I hope you find a new place to hang!

Linda in VA

Linda Logwood said...

When I lived in Center City, Rosie's was like a retreat. Many times after work I'd walk through Rittenhouse Square to her shop. As soon as I walked in the door, I could BREATHE!! Made my first sweater with yarn and help from Rosie's. Yarn stores are few and far between. I do most of my shopping online now.