The perfect preview of things to come. We haven’t even started the tour yet and I think I have found the perfect combination—in Prince George. Imagine. Owen Lubber’s Books & Company and Café Voltaire share street level with stacks of books at one end and tables full of people playing chess, reading, eating, studying and visiting at the other. When I couldn’t find a seat I was invited to sit down by two women playing Bananagram, (I’m going to buy that game). The piano in the corner is ready for Friday nights and any other time Owen invites musicians to perform. No wonder the place is called Prince George’s living room.
Darlene Shatford in my new sweater design a study of geometric designs... 3/4 sleeves and slouchy pockets
But it gets better. In the corner a wide set of stairs takes you up to a couple of designer shops, and a huge multipurpose area, with a stage, lights and room for a concert. Tucked away in the far end of the building is Top Drawer Yarn Studio. The tiny space overlooking the back end of the city is stuffed with everything you need to make the latest in knitting. Alanna Siemens and Darlene Shatford don’t just sell yarn they have created a knitting community.
Looking around the corner into Top Drawer Yarn Studio
Better yet the people are amazing. When I told Owen I would be in Prince George on January 30th he linked up with the women from Top Drawer. Together they organized a reading event for my new book Knitting Stories and even though there was a wicked snowstorm that evening the room was full of enthusiastic readers and knitters.Yes, I am not kidding—a bookstore, a coffee shop, a stage and a wool shop share the same old building. I thought the place had been designed with me in mind.
Like coffee and steamed milk, running shoes and liniment, Sundays and sleeping in, knitting and stories are made for each other. When I posed the idea of writing a book of essays about knitting and pairing them with my own designs to Diane Morris, my publisher, we didn't realize the two would be a match made in heaven. I thought the book might have an identity problem and get caught between genres and would be plagued by the questions “Is this a knitting book or a collection of essays?” and “Where do I shelf it?”
Awesome audience on a snowy night
If this is a little glimpse into what is to come on our cross country knitting tour then it will be nothing short of spectacular.Because it appears that Knitting Stories doesn’t have to choose. It is proudly being displayed for both readers and knitters. If you just like to read then the photos of the designs are the illustrations—they set the mood. If you like to knit, you can flip through the essays; find the photos and the patterns are easy to follow. Maybe that’s why people like the book and have helped to place it on the BC Bestsellers' list for the second month in a row. It ties together the things we love and makes meaning out of the simplest things…telling stories and making beautiful things with our hands.
Sylvia & Sylvia Darlene in the poncho Telling knitting stories
Thank you thank you thank you Owen, Darlene, Alanna and all the great people we met in Prince George.
If you know of a great knitting place, person, idea, project….in Canada, let me know. We will be leaving on May 1st and heading east. We’ll visit everyone we can and will be reporting back to let you know what’s up in the Canadian knitting world. I will be doing another short preview in April in NWT as part of their authors' festival. Hay River and Fort Smith knitters, I will be up there looking for you. If you are in the area please stop by to say hello.
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- Tags: Alanna Siemens, Books & Company, Cafe Voltaire, Cowichan Sweater, Darlene Shatford, Diane Morris, Knitting Stories, Knitting tour, Owen Lubber, Prince George, Sono Nis Press, Sylvia Olsen, Top Drawer Yarn Studio