Gin. Knitting. Monkeys. What more could you ask for?!

27 June 2007

Thinkin Happy Thoughts

I have determined there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in nearly every subculture (forgive me if I am late to the party - I’m not much for human interaction and avoid it if at all possible). I found this to be true when I first took up knitting.

First of all, I was surprised to find there even *was* a knitting subculture, complete with it’s own gods and gurus, superstitions and common practices, vernacular and vocabulary, and levels of hierarchy, whether real or perceived. Honestly, who knew?! Thank GORE for the innerwebs, or else I would have been terribly ill-prepared.

Who am I kidding? I was terribly ill-prepared.

And I am finding that the microcosm of dog rescue organizations is very similar. There are protocols and procedures, terminology and nomenclature, and levels of acceptance or ridicule, whether warranted or not.

Like yarn stores, there are rescue organizations that make you feel insipid, unknowing and completely unworthy of their assistance. They are the self-appointed, sanctimonious, snobby, smug sh*tholes that really are there to make themselves feel good. Sure, they will sell you the goods, but they are the type that will convince a newbie that what s/he really needs is a $30 silk ribbon skein of yarn and Crystal Palace US19’s - and then mock him or her as s/he walks out of the store. We all have been to a store or two locally that fits that bill, and some of us refuse to go to certain stores because of the way they treat their customers. (As a side note, I’ve found that, like rescues, once someone starts talking about a negative experience, there comes a lot of “me too!!”s.)

There are the stores that let you know that they are there to help, then let you go about your yarn fondling without making you feel as though you are obligated to purchase the most expensive item in the shop. Same with rescues - there are those that say, “Hey, here’s what we have, we’d really like it if you’d consider one of our dogs, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have.” The bulk of yarn stores are like that. Nice and friendly, not stand-offish and snobby. Helpful but not overbearing. Those are the stores I frequent.

And then there are the rescues that make you feel like you’ve come home. They welcome you, give you a hug and ask how you’ve been. They invite you to have a seat, put your feet up, and oh, it’s so hot today, would you like a glass of lemonade? You feel the kindred spirit and you know that even if you walk out with absolutely no purchases, you will be welcomed back the next time you’re there.

I went to one of THOSE kind of stores last weekend.

The timing couldn’t be better - I had braved Hollywood traffic, complete with street closures for a demonstration, to meet some rescue doggies. The experience there was less than enviable. As we were heading toward the yarn store I had heard much about, I turned to the Jman and said, “If this turns out to be one of those bitchy yarn stores, I am going to cry.” Plain and simple.


Driving eastward on Los Feliz, one of my most favoritist streets in LA, my spirits were buoyed somewhat. But I was not going to allow myself to feel hopeful. I had my mapquest directions in hand, and WMG in the backseat, and the sun was shining and traffic was moving and good tunes were on the radio. It could possibly turn out well.

The directions took me off the main street and into the warren of Eagle Rock/Highland Park/East LA. I love the area, it just feels ALIVE with ART and COLOR and VIBRANCY, but I thought the directions were incorrect, or I had missed a turn, because it appeared we were venturing into the convoluted streets of residential housing. But then, I saw it: The Big Red Barn. But, no. That couldn’t be it. . . could it?! To the side of the BRB was a colorful, wild and wonderful day care/pre-school, and I remarked to the Jman that if we had lived on the East Side when WMG was really wee, that was the kind of place I’d like to take her.

So we parked, and slo-o-o-o-o-o-owly made our way to the entrance on the side of the BRB. There were two lovely pups, noisily announcing our arrival. . . There, on the fence, was a picture of the legendary Hissy kitty. PHEW. We were in the right place.


Still feeling like we were maybe invading someone’s private space, we cautiously ventured up the stairs when I spotted - BASKETS OF YARN. Huzzah!! We *were* in the right place. Soon thereafter, I met amiable Annie, who is very well versed in the world of yarn. But first, she offered us (me, the Jman and WMG) a glass of lemonade.

Whilest I shopped, and WMG rested, the Jman was surprisingly entertained by Annie’s BF/SO/Husband/PoolBoy. I say surprisingly, because, having been to a shop or two with me and WMG a few times before, he’d been bored out of his mind (which really isn’t difficult), but this time he had company. MAN company! Then another customer came in, and we all talked about politics (!!!), education, culture and pretty much everything that came to our collective mind. We had such a great time.
You're on the eastside?! You need color. COLOR!!!

These are begging to be felted slippers, doncha think?!

I think I'll make something Autummummy.

I can’t stress enough how nice the BRB is. It is well stocked with all the necessary yarns and quite a few of the extravagant ones. There are books galore, and a few needles, notions and whatnot. Although it is quite a ways from our every day path, it is worth the drive, especially if there is a weekend class you are interested in. (For example, the celebrated Charle Lee will be doing some dying classes there soon, and they have a clapotis class and many more classes to come.) Annie is extremely knowledgeable and helpful and entertaining, and it’s a beautiful property. When you go, be sure to check out the amazing floormats that were made by Annie and her son and the “pagan alter”, formerly known as her grandfather’s desk.

[Annecdotally, when Annie was showing us one of her beautiful cabinets, I remarked, "Nice Nobs," because I am 12. And do you know what she did?? She LAUGHED! You don't get that kind of reaction (if any at all) in those snobbery snores, er, I mean, STORES.]
HEMP yarn (at 1/2 price). I'm thinking something for the Grandmother, you know, for when she goes through the airport security checks with the drug-sniffing dogs. . .

Even le WMG did a little "stash enhancement"

After a very entertaining 1.5 hours, good conversation and excellent company, I was lucky to leave with change in my pocket (Annie has a *great* sale going on) and a spring in my step. She definitely resuscitated an otherwise crushing day.

Oh, and the daycare center? Turns out that’s Annie’s superpower - she’s a daycare provider by week day, and a superior yarn shop proprietor by evening and weekends.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Faith said...

Cooool! I haven't been but seriously, after your description...I think I'm gonna have to go check it out for myself.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger miss kendra said...

you are too much. this post makes me want to go too!

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Laurie Ann said...

Annie is the nicest lady. And Sam, her partner in crime--did you meet James the dog? I went to their shop around St. Pats (when it was at the old locale) and they gave me irish coffee and cakes--with real whiskey!! Gotta love it.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger woolanthropy said...

I wanna go too. I feel a yarn crawl/fieldtrip coming on. And if they are serving booze it could turn into a crawl of a different kind.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

Okay. I'm within Driving Distance, so I need to go, too.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Viva Scrapper! said...

Oooooooh! I haven't been to Hissy Knits, YET! but I know where they you've put a bit of a fire under my lazy arse to get out there!

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Frank said...

Wow, what a ringing endorsement. Must get there while on vacation...

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Christine G. said...

What a great shop. Thanks for the report...this is definitely a place I would love to check out.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger sappmama said...

Okay. You're really f'ing with my head. I need yarn like I need a hole in my head. After the Black Sheep Sale of the Century, I've got yarn stored behind my desk, in all corners, coming out of my arse. And, ya know what? I don't even KNIT these days. I never crocheted much. In other words: I. Don't. Need. Yarn.

But, thanks to you, I'm going to this Big Red Barn.

I hate you. :)


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