Saturday, June 16, 2007

Middlebury, Vermont: Vermont Beads and Fibers

Every once in awhile, I enter a store (of any sort, really) that makes me forget the stress and craziness of life, take a deep breath, and relax. And sometimes, I visit a store that is put together just-so and I leave energized and inspired. Vermont Beads and Fibers is both of those.

I had only a few minutes to stop in, and in all honesty, I was running late and shouldn't have even considered stopping. But I can't resist a yarn store, and I was walking by, so in I went. The second the door shut behind me, and I took a deep breath of what I can only describe as "yarniness", I felt myself relax. I was immediately drawn to a display of project samples for upcoming classes. I wanted to sign up for each and every class -- the projects (especially a pretty sock) were creative, different from other class projects I've seen elsewhere, and very inspiring.

The shop carries an interesting selection of yarn, including some local yarns. They don't have full lines of many vendors, but a carefully chosen selection: Dale, Cascade, Plymouth, Lorna's Laces, Mango Moon, and Great Adirondack were companies that I saw represented. The yarns are displayed in an attractive fashion, and there is a definite concentration on natural fibers. A very good assortment of sock yarn is housed at the back. Samples hang around the store, and they are lovely and interesting, and well put-together.

And then there are the beads.

So a little back story: At another store, I had purchased a skein of Great Adirondack Sirino. When I bought it, the yarn band did not include gauge information, but I loved it anyway, so I bought it without a real project in mind. I found the perfect project in No Sheep For You: the River Rock scarf, which includes beads.

Of course, I have never knit with beads, and didn't know what to buy or how to do it, so I put the project on the back burner to deal with later.

So here I was in the perfect store: a yarn store that was also a bead store. Close to 1/2 the store is beads. And the woman working in the store was so friendly, that I felt very comfortable explaining my project. She took the time to help me, especially when I said I didn't know the exact weight of the yarn -- she brought me skeins to feel to see if it was similar to the Sirino, then helped me find beads that would be just right for the project. She told me how to pre-string the beads, directed me to the Beading Needles, and I just know that if I had the yarn with me, and the time, she would have sat me down and helped me start the project.

I was running short of time, so I looked around just a bit, bought my beads, and while I was at the checkout, all of that inspiration just got to me. I fell in love with some yarn from Laughing Tree Farm, a locally-produced Merino in luscious colors. But I had no real use for it. I fondled it, over and over. Then I saw a sample hat knit out of the yarn (also incorporating beads) and just had to make it. So I bought the yarn, which came with a free pattern for the hat, and picked out some beads to go with it.

(the green beads go with the green yarn; the purple beads are for the River Rock scarf)

The particulars: on-street parking in front of the store, though when I was there the street was under construction so things were a bit odd. There may be a public parking lot; I got a spot directly in front of the store, so I didn't explore further. The store is closed on Sunday, and open from 10-5:30 on other days. Wednesday evenings there is Community Knitting from 5:30-9, and it appears all are very welcome. As always, check with the store for changes to the schedule.

I would have loved to have spent more time in the shop--there is a table at the back of the store for drop-in knitters, and the atmosphere was so inviting that I would not have hesitated. However, I shall have to wait until my next trip to Middlebury. I do fully intend on making more time to spend at Vermont Beads and Fibers.