Yarn Store Road Trip Guest Post: The Wool Gathering
Guess what?! Remember the LYS Road Trip newsletter? Well, writer and knitter Terri Hamilton was inspired to send us a story about a great new LYS in her area, Rockford, IL. So please, read on, and if you’re going by Rockford, stop in and check it out!
Old LYS Is New Again
The only LYS in the Rockford, Illinois area (65 miles northwest of Chicago) has changed hands—and local knitters are abuzz with the owner’s plans for the shop.
In April 2012, Tracy Doyle purchased The Yarn Sellar, a tiny LYS in Loves Park, IL, just north of Rockford. It’s been the only LYS in the area since Unique Yarns, a longtime local favorite, went out of business two years before.
Tracy promptly re-christened the store The Wool Gathering, hoping to make it a meeting place for yarncrafters. She rearranged furniture to create a small seating area, and put the old yarns on clearance. (Some of them were REALLY old—long since discontinued.) And she started placing orders for fresh new stock, including several lines that had been staples at Unique.
“I can’t compete with Michaels, so I’m not going to try,” Tracy said. “I’m going to stock the premium yarns.” In the short term, she found that carrying a variety of ladder yarns for the current ruffle scarf fad was a welcome way to, “Keep the doors open.”
As old yarns cleared out, she began restocking with small quantities of the new yarns, such as Cascade, Dream in Color, Regia, and Plymouth. She started making plans with a well-known local knitting teacher to hold a class… although it would have to be held in the middle of the store.
However, there was a vacant storefront in the same shopping center that was much larger, and partitioned in such a way that she could set up “Gathering” spaces for groups and classes. She approached the landlord and made a deal.
Tracy hoped to move to the new storefront the first weekend in August, but red tape over the lease agreement caused one delay after another. Finally, she declared “MOVING PARTY!!” on Wednesday, August 29, closed the shop early and shifted nearly everything over with the help of a half-dozen friends. And then treated those who could stay to dinner at Bistro 108, a restaurant two doors down from the new location.
Saturday, September 1 was the first official day open in the new store. She bought a new living room set and lighting for the back room for future S&B’s and classes. A coffee bar at the other end of the room was only awaiting furniture delivery. She’s also installing a TV so people can watch YouTube knitting videos. A lot of the yarn was out on display, but some was still in bags—including recent deliveries of new fall lines—so Labor Day was for putting out the new stock.
Plans for the immediate future include starting up classes and knit nights in the meeting room once it’s all set up. Plus a new line of designer hand-tied yarns called Bonfire.
Now Tracy says, “Stop by the shop and see our new yarn!” The Wool Gathering’s address is 6156 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, IL 61111. (It’ll be a couple weeks before the sign goes up… but there is knitwear in the window.)
If You Go…
Location and Hours
6156 E Riverside Blvd.
Loves Park, IL 61111
Terri Hamilton is a knitter and crocheter in Rockford, Illinois. She blogs at holity.net.
Photos courtesy of Terri Hamilton and Tracy Doyle/The Wool Gathering.
Thanks so much, Tracy! I can’t wait to check that store!