To Stock, or Not to Stock…

In small town retail, deciding what to stock (and how much of it) is an ongoing process and an inexact science.

  • Trends come and go;
  • supply lines change;
  • economies change.

Discerning what to keep or not can be challenging. One of the things I love about having a store is that I can decide what I want to buy to put on the shelves. A lot goes into that decision-making process.

The Base-Line Stuff

There are certain staples that I just have to have on hand.

  • Basic sewing notions;
  • knitting and crochet tools
  • and accessories;
  • a good cross-section of elastic;
  • scissors…

you know, all those fundamental things that sewing and fibre arts enthusiasts need for their projects. These no-brainer items are easy to recognize and you simply have to have them… whatever your small business niche happens to be.

Direct customer requests

A lot of what I have on my shelves is there because a customer special ordered it.

Most of the time if one person asks for it, others will want it too. Often customers will ask me for something and it’s a product that should be a staple in my store… I just didn’t think of it before they asked.

Sometimes they introduce me to new products that I didn’t even know existed.

Minimums

With many products, suppliers require that you purchase a minimum number.

Each colour of yarn comes in bags of either 5, 6 or 10, for instance. Other products have different prices depending on how many you buy. If you buy singles, you pay more; yet hey, in a small town, I can’t say that I need to buy 1,000 or 10,000 of anything! So the higher singles price it often must be. With a lot of the little items, (like sewing notions) they give you a small break if you order multiples of either 3 or 5. It may not be a lot, (often it’s only pennies difference) but it all helps. This can make a difference as to whether I decide to order it or not.

Colour Choices

With yarn in particular, each line has a variety of colourways.

Although some only have 6 or 8 colours available, some of them can have between 60 and 70 different colours each. It’s unrealistic for me to carry every colour of every yarn I have in the shop.

Choosing the colours can be both fun and frustrating.

I would love to have them all. Shortlisting from 60 to 8 can be tough! When I bring in a new line of yarn, I usually go through what is available and start with neutrals and basics. I might start with 6 or 8 colours to begin with. Once I get some feedback from customers I can then decide whether to continue carrying that yarn and to expand the colour selection, or to sell it off and focus on something different. Then, if I’m placing an order and I don’t have quite enough to make the minimum order, I may look to see what new colour I’d like to carry in an established line to top up the order.

Supplier Rapport

Each supplier has its own personality.

Their energy can range from feeling like family to quite formal to downright frenetic. If a company is going through changes (like implementing a new computer system; or was just bought out) there can be a lot of chaos going on for them. Orders can be mixed up or lost. Ordering from a company that is chaotic can be stressful… and can make the difference between deciding not to bother with their product and just ordering from someone else.

  • If the people who answer the phone are extremely difficult to understand, orders can end up incorrect.
  • If the staff is constantly changing it can be difficult to sustain a good rapport with the company. If a company makes promises it can’t keep, it affects me. Especially if those promises involve special orders.
  • Websites that are not maintained can create unrealistic expectations regarding product availability.

All these factors come into play. If ordering from one company is stressful and I can get what I want from a different company with whom ordering is friendly and easy, I’ll go where the least stress is. Over time, you build relationships with your suppliers. They get to know what your business needs and they can often make helpful suggestions regarding new products or programs that they offer.

The Cool Stuff

And yeah, there’s just some stuff that is so cool, you gotta have it on hand.

It may be a funky take on something from the basic tools category. It may be a more luxurious version of something basic. Sometimes I just really like something and I can’t resist ordering it.

Shifting Times and Trends

Once you have a bunch of stock on the shelves there comes a point when you also have to decide whether you enough of it moves to justify the real estate it takes up.

As a trend starts to inch toward its end it can be hard to know when to sign off on it. I have made the mistake of reordering when I should have cleared off the shelf. And that can be tough to discern. You win some, you lose some.

Cash Flow

And isn’t that the biggest determining factor for most things?

At the end of the day, you have to be able to pay your bills. It’s easy to get carried away buying stuff. I don’t know any small business owner who hasn’t had that moment when the feeling in the pit of their stomach makes them pray that their buying choices will pay off. It usually works itself out though.

At the end of the day, choosing the stuff to sell in my store is the best part of my job. And when the parcels arrive, it’s like Christmas! What’s not to love?

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Sirdar Gorgeous Review

Have you seen those images of blankets knitted with crazy thick yarn on the internet? Sirdar Gorgeous is a single ply Ultra Super Chunky yarn. Doesn’t that alone make it sound amazing? Ultra Super! If we were talking comic books, that would be like having an Ultra Superman… Well today I’m going to talk about this Ultra Super Chunky Gorgeous Yarn. Even just typing that felt like a mouthful!

To start it all off, the specs on this yarn are as follows: 51% wool; 49% acrylic. They recommend 20mm  needles to obtain a 10cm swatch with a gauge of 5 stitches by 6 rows. The skeins are 150g and sell for around $22.50 each.

I have to be honest. I was very reluctant to sell single ply yarn in general.

Back when I was a kid, we raised sheep. We would send the fleece off to have it processed and would get some of it in the form of cakes of a roving-like yarn that could either easily be spun or was typical of what people made Cowichan style cardigans from. My memory of working that was that because of my typical tension, it would just come apart unless I spun it first. When my rep showed Gorgeous to me, I looked at him sideways (the look you would give a snake-oil salesman that you see through) and said,

“Uh, seriously? People actually WANT this stuff?” He laughed out loud and said that it was proving to be quite popular.

The first thing to acknowledge is that when you either crochet or knit with any thick yarn, because of the actual girth of it, mileage is relative to its weight. The thicker the yarn the less the mileage.

You’ll get less mileage from a DK than a fingering yarn; less from chunky than from DK or worsted and so on.

Gram for gram, you are going to pay about the same as you do for any other yarn. When you look at the mileage (okay, “yardage”) on the package you can see the difference. For instance, 100g of fingering yarn usually gives you 400m of yarn. Sirdar Gorgeous is 150g and 50m. So out of 100g of it you are going to get around 33m. That having been said, in fingering weight yarn you will cast on around 34 or 35 stitches to make a 10cm swatch in comparison to the 5 stitches in Gorgeous. Yes, it works up at light speed. Man, you can put a blanket together in no time flat with this stuff. But it takes a lot of skeins.

Sirdar has provided a number of patterns to support this yarn.

In addition to a number of single-skein projects (hats, cowls…) there are also patterns for throws and for an ottoman-like cushion. Of course, you can also just wing it and make a blanket or a poncho or whatever your heart desires. 🙂

sirdar-gorgeous-patterns

I started out crocheting this yarn. The first thing to note is that you need to have a very light touch with it. I found that where I normally guide the yarn with one hand to control tension, I really had to simply guide it to be sure it wouldn’t catch on anything. I barely held any tension on it at all. I am a knitter at heart. I can crochet and for some things crochet works best. With the size of this yarn, I just really didn’t care for the size of the holes between the stitches. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy with the result. I unraveled enough to cast on 60 stitches on 20mm circular needles and continued to take the crochet apart as I knitted. I didn’t want to take it all apart and run the risk of tangling it all up. Now, if you love crochet, you may have loved it the way it was. I’m not saying you shouldn’t crochet it. It’s all about preference.

For me (sock knitting is my happy place), this yarn felt GINORMOUS to handle. It took me a bit to just get used to it. I normally knit continental style, carrying the yarn in my left hand and picking the yarn with the right needle. I am finding that with this yarn as thick as it is, I just naturally started throwing the yarn with my right hand instead. Again, it requires a very light touch. If you tend to pull hard on your yarn, you’ll have to back way off on your tension to avoid tearing the yarn apart as you go.

I played around with changing colours in a couple ways. I don’t like knots in my work if I can avoid them.

With this yarn they would be way too obvious.

First, I pulled away about half the yarn from the last 4 inches or so of each colour and then twisted the two together. But that (although it worked) gave me a candy-cane effect for the stitches that contained the join. If joining the same colour, it works fine. Then I did something like a Russian join instead. So, I still pulled away about half the bulk of the yarn for the first 6 inches or so on each. But, instead of laying them onto each other and twisting, I folded them around each other (like links of a chain) and then twisted on either side of the link respectively. This gave me a clear divide between the two colours, no knots, and I was able to be very precise about where the colour change occurred.

Sirdar recommends a cold hand-wash and to lay it flat to dry; shaping as necessary while it is still wet. I have not washed it yet, but I would be terrified of what a washing machine would do to it. So, bathtub it is for my blanket.

The resulting fabric is so thick, soft, fluffy and cuddly that I suspect you’ll have to fight everyone else off to be the one who gets to snuggle under a Gorgeous blanket!

Happy Mother’s Day

From the time we are born and through all the stages of our lives,

our perspective on what “mother” means evolves and changes.

Our understanding of the role of mother changes along with our relationships with those people who fill that role in our lives.

As a child, my mom was the one who baked the bread, stoked the fire (we didn’t have electricity for some time), tucked us in and determined which transgressions warranted the dreaded,

“wait until your father comes home!”

As I got older, and wrestled with the concept that my mom was actually just a person, my perspective shifted. How dare she not be supernatural, after all? How dare she not know all the answers? How dare she not be perfect? How dare she not be, well, a Goddess?

My grandmothers lived in Germany.

I didn’t get to see them very often. I envied the kids who had local grandmothers who spoiled them and regularly did fun things with them. (Although, I always thought I had them beat that my Oma and I got to see a family of skunks walk within a couple feet of us one day when we were peeling potatoes outdoors under a big tree. Baby skunks are the cutest!)

I loved my grandmothers in a way that was very different from the way I loved my mom.

When I became a mother, my paradigm spun around, did a back flip and landed with a whole new outlook. Suddenly I was holding a tiny human being in my arms. That tiny human being looked up at me with absolute trust. In that moment, my whole world was rocked. I realized that this job, this role called “motherhood” was going to be the single most important thing I would ever do in my life. This little human’s whole world was going to be affected by every choice I made on her behalf, every word I whispered, spoke or yelled. It was the single most humbling moment of my life. It gave me pause to look back over my childhood and assess misconceptions I had toward my own mother. It made me wonder how she had managed raising five of us. The sheer responsibility of it all was a little overwhelming. And I resolved to channel my inner Mama Grizzly Bear on my little baby’s behalf.

As my kids got older and made their way through all their stages, I did my best to be there for them. I also did my best to make sure they knew that I was flying by the seat of my pants without a “User’s Manual”. And at the end of the day, I made sure to do everything in my power to make sure they knew that I loved them and that no matter what, I would have their backs.

And now that my kids are grown and have lives of their own, my role in their lives has changed… and yet it hasn’t.

I still maintain that at the end of the day I want them to know that I love them and that I have their backs. When they need desperately to vent about some frustration in their lives, or to celebrate a victory, I want them to know that I feel blessed to be their sounding board. They happily return the favour for me. These days, it isn’t just my kids. It’s also my partner’s “kids” and all their partners too. And I love that they are part of this circle.

mom-and-son-having-fun

My mother passed away a number of years ago.

I feel fortunate to have developed a wonderful relationship with my Mother-in-law. We are together every day, and it’s a fabulous thing. We are there for each other and have each other’s backs.

And so motherhood evolves into grandmotherhood.

My spell-check says that this is not a word; I vehemently disagree. And it’s a very interesting shift. There is a different kind of connection in this new role. The stress of just keeping those little buggers alive every day is not my stress any more. Now it’s just about the love. How cool is that?

To me, entering into grandmotherhood is like being honoured with a distinctive promotion into a revered position of trust. That’s just the best! Well, that and the hugs from wee little arms, the smiles from wee little lips and the video clips of  “I love you, Oma!” that melt my heart every time I replay them.

infant-on-shoulder

No one ever said that being a mother would be easy. And it isn’t. But man, it’s the most rewarding role I could ever imagine holding.

Here’s to celebrating all the people who have held the role of mother in our lives.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

 

 

 

pictures thanks to:  Samantha Hurley and Nicole De Khors from Burst

Spring Cardigan Fever

This was a very snowy winter for us. On April 30th there was still a remnant of the once huge snow pile in our parking lot. By the end of May 1st the last of that snow was finally gone.

I officially turned off the furnace; that makes it cardigan season!

Since completing my  “Chance of Showers” cardigan this season, I have been on the lookout for another cardigan pattern to dive into. I want something that fits close to my body, is short waisted, interesting without being an obnoxious amount of fussy work, 3/4 sleeves, open necked, knitted all in one, and buttoned up. Oh and I want it to look like it has set-in sleeves. Hmmm that’s a lot of parameters, isn’t it?

My search has taken me down that rabbit hole called Pinterest. So many beautiful cardigan photos are posted there! But you know what? I’ll find what I think is the most glorious cardigan ever, click on it, and find that it either goes to some foreign site in a language I can’t read or it terminates in a photo and no way of finding the pattern. I have to say it: “This makes me very sad!” I finally gave up on Pinterest and started looking on Ravelry instead.

In my searching I found something very cool.

I love to knit but I hate having to sew pieces together once the knitting is done. I will do it because I actually really want to wear what I make. So I’ve been on the look out for patterns that allow you to make your garment all in one piece. I like the look of a set in sleeve and I always thought there must be a way to mimic that look yet not have seams. I often thought about sussing out how that could actually work. But I never really had the time to commit to experimenting with it. I’m happy to say that someone else had the same thought; and they did take the time to figure out how to do it. Susie Myers has named it contiguous knitting. It’s worth checking out. There is a group on Ravelry devoted to this method. Find it here!

An explanation of how it works is found here

Susie Meyers has a link to her “recipe” for building a sweater in this way. Here is the link.

I read through it and realized quickly that simply following the recipe will require some trial and error. Unfortunately, my life is so full that I don’t see myself having the patience or time to put into that trial and error process. However, then I noticed that there is a long list of patterns that use Susie’s technique in their construction. Here is a link to that list.

I figure that for the first time I try this, I will buy a pattern and follow it so that I get a feeling for how it works.

After that, I’ll take what I learned and perhaps try winging one. I looked at all the patterns in the list. (There were a couple that don’t actually count as contiguous. I suspect that those will be culled as they are discovered by the moderator.) There are some lovely patterns there. Two in particular caught my eye and fit my parameters quite nicely. There were a couple more that looked promising too. Most of these patterns are for sale, and not free. I don’t mind paying for patterns. There is a lot of work in putting them together. The designers will never get rich off the few dollars we pay them per pattern! I like to support their creativity so they’ll continue to make more patterns for us all. Here are the links to the ones that I am considering knitting:

Alecia Beth

I absolutely LOVE this pattern. It looks feminine and fancy without being so fancy I wouldn’t want to wear it every day. Fingering weight yarn makes such a nice cardigan especially for spring. My only hesitation is that it is fingering weight yarn and that’s quite a commitment.

Alecia Beth

© gosik, © gosik, by jettshin  Flickr

Hermine

I love that this next sweater is mostly stockinette stitch, but it has a little bit of pattern to keep it from being boring. It’s also out of fingering weight yarn which makes it ideal for a spring sweater since it won’t be terribly heavy. But again… that is a lot of stitches. Do I have the courage and tenacity to make a 4 ply sweater? That’s the question.

Hermine

© attimania, © attimania, © Quietsch

 

Ciel, Une Fille!

This next one is a free pattern. It’s very pretty. I would probably choose something a little less fluffy than what they did but I love the look of it. It’s adorable! I think I would simply shorten the sleeves to a 3/4. It calls for worsted weight, so I see that as being very achievable in spite of my busy schedule. The pattern itself doesn’t have any photos on it, but there are photos on Ravelry that you can refer to.

Ciel, une fille!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
© tatacharlotte

 

Seelie Cardi

This one is a free download. I really like the look of the photo. I have to say, my first thought was that one of my sisters would rock this sweater as is. I downloaded it and lo and behold! It is a tutorial that guides you through making a contiguous sweater out of any yarn. Interesting… this would be an option.

Seelie Cardi

© britt schmiesing

 

So now, it’s all about making a decision. Not that I don’t have other knitting on the go. I actually have 3 pairs of socks on needles right now, and a shawl and a ball of yarn divided for yet another pair of socks waiting to be cast on. Must be the spring sunshine bringing out the “Startitis” in me. Well, that and the fact that my current cardigans are just a teenie bit too warm now and I’m putting them on and taking them off all day long to stay comfy. I definitely need a spring cardigan… Eenie, Meenie, Miney Moe?

Wish me luck! Happy Knitting!

Toe-Up Socks Overview

There are two main approaches to knitting socks:

  1. Top-Down (also called Cuff-down) and
  2. Toe-Up

Today I want to focus on Toe-Up methods.

Whether you have knit a few pairs of socks or would simply like to learn how, toe-up is a great way to make socks. If you’ve never done it, I’ll give you an overview here with links to some good You-Tube videos to help you move forward.

There are a couple advantages to making toe-up socks.

  • It’s easy to check the sizing of the sock as you go.
  • There is no need to graft the toe closed when you finish knitting as it will already be closed right from the start.
  • Also, if you divide your ball of yarn into two equal balls at the start, by working toe-up, you will easily be able to see how long you can make the leg of the sock without worrying about running out of yarn. Typically, we can get 3 average socks out of a 100g ball of sock yarn.
  • If you like a tall sock, starting at the toe (ideally you would knit both socks in tandem, though it isn’t critical) you won’t have to guess how tall you can go. You’ll be able to see very clearly by what is left on the ball. And finally, using the short row heel method means you don’t have to pick up stitches along a heel flap.

Let me break it down a bit.

The very first step in any knitting project is going to be your cast-on. The toes of our socks are closed. When you start with the toe, your cast-on will have to take this fact into account. There are a number of different ways to cast on to create this closed end of the toe. Once you cast on your desired number of stitches, you will knit them in the round and increase to create the toe. I like to start with either 10 or 12 stitches on each needle. Some people like to start with as few as 6 per needle. It’s all about what you like. No matter which method you use, the process of making the sock is the same.

The most common closed cast-on methods include:

Turkish Cast-on

 

Judy’s Magic Cast-on (a different Judy, not me; this is her video)

 

Figure-8 Cast-on

 

Once you have cast on your toe, you will knit in the round.

You will need to increase your stitches to gradually get up to the size around your foot.

I usually increase 4 stitches every other row until I have 60 stitches. (I usually knit 1, m1, knit until there is 1 stitch left on needle #1, m1 and knit the last stitch. I then repeat this on needle #2.) What’s great about the toe up method is that you can easily try on the sock and adjust to the size you need as you go. Once it fits, stop increasing. The only thing to consider here is that if you want to do a ribbing when you get to the cuff or if you want to include a knitted pattern you will want your final number of stitches to divide evenly in a way that will work for your ribbing or pattern. For instance if you are doing a 2×2 rib, be sure that your total number of stitches divides by 4. If your pattern repeat is 8, be sure your number of stitches will divide by 8; so you may go with 56 or 64 or 72. If you have thick ankles, go a little larger.

Side note:

If you are making your socks one at a time, be sure to keep notes about what you do as you go so that you can be sure to match the second sock to the first. If you are inclined to knit two at a time, there are a couple ways to go about that. First and foremost, divide your yarn into two equal balls. Use a scale for this. Cast on the socks completely separately. Then, once they are cast on, you have the option of knitting the two socks on one needle side by side using a magic loop; on two circulars (needle 1 and needle 2); or in tandem on two separate sets of DPN’s, two magic loops or two sets of two circulars. These days, I’m using magic loop and knitting them side by side unless I’m doing complicated colour-work; then I do 2 separate magic loops.

Instep (the section of the sock that the main part of your foot goes in)

Once you have your toe completed, simply knit in the round until the sock is about 1.5 inches shorter than the length of your foot. If  you want to incorporate a pattern, decide which needle is #1 and which is #2. I like to keep #1 for the heel. So #1 gets knitted in stockinette (it will be on the sole of the foot) and #2 gets the pattern. You can think of it the other way around if you want, this is just what I do. Knit away in this manner until there is about 1.5″ left to the end of your heel. At this point, you’ll begin constructing your heel.

Heel

In this method, we use what is known as a “short row heel”. We knit needle #1 stitches back and forth at this time. You progressively knit fewer and fewer of the stitches on your needle while leaving the un-knit stitches resting on the same needle at either end as you go. You are building up a kind-of wedge like shape and then filling it in afterward. There are a few different ways of doing this. It will make more sense once you watch these videos.

 

German Short Row Heel

 

Japanese Short Row Heel

 

Short Row Heel with Shadow Wraps

 

Short Row Heel with Wrap and Turn

 

Once you complete the short row heel of your choosing, you simply continue knitting in the round to make the calf or leg of the sock. If you knitted a pattern on the instep of the sock, you will now knit that pattern all the way around the sock (instead of just on needle #2) until you get to where you want to start your ribbing. Knit your ribbing and then bind off with a stretchy bind-off.

Stretchy Bind Off

 

And there you go! I hope that this was helpful. As always, hat’s off to those fabulous people who created the videos that I have linked to. If you find you really like them, I encourage you to subscribe to their channels.

Happy Knitting!

 

 

Elastic Thread, Oh My!

Sometimes, a customer job request puts me in a position of having to do something that I have, until then, never had the occasion to do.

In over 30 years of sewing somehow I managed to never take the opportunity to try out elastic thread. One of my customers brought me a sun dress with an elastic-smocked bodice, to replicate. Who am I to turn down a chance to learn something new?

I wish I had been thinking about the potential of the project being inspiration for a blog post. I really should have taken photographs. Silly me! The dresses turned out fantastic.

When I first opened up the store, my thread supplier urged me to carry elastic thread. So I did. I never thought much about it until a customer came in and asked me how to use it. We googled it together and discovered that you use it on the bobbin. You hand wind it without stretching it. Use a regular thread on the top and away you sew. That was as far as I took it at the time. I have to be honest. When this recent job came up, I was a little concerned about whether using elastic thread would be frustrating or difficult.

It really wasn’t troublesome at all.

I did discover a few things that I would have been happy to know before I started. On the first dress (she wanted two dresses) I just dove in and after serging the raw edges I started sewing parallel lines of smocking. I realized after, it would have been much easier to create the channel for the 10mm elastic at the top edge before I started smocking. It was a nuisance to have to stretch the jersey against all those rows of elastic stitches and try to estimate where “neutral” was in regard to the fabric’s natural stretchiness, so everything would line up without getting a bunch of angled ripples in the channel. I managed fine, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest method. I did the channel first on the second dress and that went smoothly.

If you’re going to use jersey for the smocking (or any other knit… well actually, any kind of fabric at all), you’re going to want to take the oh-so-tedious-and-boring-as-anything time it takes to mark your parallel lines before you start sewing.

I get impatient. On the first dress I figured, “parallel lines? Pfff! I can do those in my sleep!” Yeah, in normal conditions: no problemo. However add in the jersey with its lovely stretch and the fact that with each additional row of gathering it takes more effort to ensure that the jersey is neutral (not being stretched as you work) so that your estimated distance from the previous row of smocking remains parallel.

Remember that parallel is a mathematical term. It refers to lines that are equidistant from each other… not wibbly-wobbly, kind-of, sort-of, going mostly in the same-ish direction. Not that my lines were all that bad. They were satisfactory. Not mathematically precise… but you definitely couldn’t tell in the finished product. The issue is that you work the gathering on the flat fabric and sew the centre back seam up when you are all done the smocking. So if your rows of gathering don’t line up at the centre back, it looks really sloppy. Also, we tend to notice when a series of stacked lines are grossly non-parallel.  It definitely draws the eye.. You don’t want to have particularly uneven lines across your boobs. Also, you don’t want to have to start picking this stuff apart. So yeah… take the time to mark it, all the way across the width of the fabric. In the case of the jersey, that’s all 60″ (or 152.4 cm).

Trust me, when you sew it, these marked lines will make you happy.

It took me around an hour and a half per dress to do all the smocking and finishing. I made spaghetti straps and used a Prym bra fasteners kit for the rings and the slide buckles. This way the straps were adjustable.

Oh, and I also used a Prym turning kit. This was pretty cool. It comes with three sizes of turning tools. Each consists of a tube and a wooden stick. You sew your strap and close one end. Then, you slide the tube inside the strap all the way to the closed end. Take the stick and use it to push the fabric into the tube, all the while sliding the fabric along the outside of the tube as the stick pushes it through the centre of the tube. One end of the stick is pointed, the other is flat. I used the flat end so that the point wouldn’t stress the fabric as it was forced through the tube. If the edges on that end would have needed to be turned neatly I would have reinserted the stick with the pointed end first so that I could use that to get the corners all perfect. I liked it! The kit now sits in my “must be close on hand… but not so close it has to be in my tool belt” drawer.

Only trouble with all of this is that now I am looking at all my fabric thinking,

“could I use elastic thread on this?”

Oi veh! I need to get out more!

Happy Sewing!

The Shop Cat

Last July, we had a fierce storm.

My husband came home from work and after commenting on the intensity of the rain and wind, he mentioned that he felt as if a ghost had slipped past him on his way in the door. Then he laughed and chalked it up to the crazy weather.

Later that night, he went down to the garage and heard a meow. He called me; when I got there, he had a cardboard box set up with some small pieces of beef jerky in it.

“There’s a cat in here.”He told me quietly. “I think it’s gone behind that stuff at the wall.”

We put a plate with more tempting morsels at one end of the hiding place. After a time, we decided to leave and give the critter a chance to relax.

We went out to see a movie that night. When we came back, we found him in a different hiding place. I reached in with my buttery fingers and he began licking them. I coaxed him out of the hiding place and then I sat down on the floor. He climbed into my lap and purred as he continued to lick the salty butter off my fingers.

“He’s too nice to not belong to someone. Better try and track down his family.”

My husband was right. This fluffy black cat was gentle and sweet tempered. So I spent the next few weeks doing everything I could think of to try and track down his family. But it got us nowhere.

No one came forward.

 

After enough time had passed and I was confident no one would claim him I made an appointment with the vet and arranged for his shots and neutering. When it was time to pick him up, I could hear him meowing a conversation with the clinic staff members. This cat was good at making friends!

We live above my store. At first, the thought of having a cat in the store, around all that yarn was kind of frightening. But the poor little fellow was so distraught being alone all day that his meowing was breaking my heart! We figured it would be worth giving him a chance in the store. I set up a basket for him on my work table. He claimed it before I even finished putting the blanket in. It wasn’t long before we had a cat tower set up for him at the back of the store so he had a spot from which he could see everything.

We called him Ricasso (we are big Forged in Fire fans). He has become a fixture in the store.

He recognizes the regulars and their children.

He even anticipates some of the children; he waits inside the door for them when he hears them get out of their car. When they come in, he escorts them to the play area and sometimes keeps them company while they play. He’ll greet some of the littler children and then make a subtle exit when he has had as much of their attention as he wants. He is always gentle with the little ones. He figured out how to open the door into the exit air-lock. He goes in and out of the air-lock as he pleases and spends a lot of time watching the parking lot through the glass exit doors. He happily greets customers… unless he’s sleeping, that is.

ricasso-sleeping

And Ricasso knows what time it is.

He comes to work with me in the morning and when it’s time for my lunch break, he blatantly interrupts my work to make certain that I know it’s time to stop. When it’s time for my husband to get home, he watches for him and enthusiastically greets him when he comes in. And if I’m late locking up, Ricasso doesn’t hesitate to chastise me for it. He meows loudly and twitches his ears until I close shop.

If I’m having a tough day, he places himself where I have no choice but to interact with him and does what he can to cheer me up.

He has definitely made himself part of the family.

I never imagined I would want or have a shop cat. Now, thanks to Ricasso, I can’t imagine my store without him.