Monday, February 18, 2019

Once Upon A Time: The Ebb and Flow of Crafty Inventory

Yesterday was "Family Day" here in Alberta. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick mark it as such as well, while in Manitoba it's known as "Louis Riel Day". It's "Islander Day" in Prince Edward Island and in Nova Scotia, "Heritage Day". (Alberta's "Heritage Day is the first Monday in August; but I digress!)

Here at The Crafty Lady, we hope you all enjoyed a great day of family crafts -- perfect activities if the wind, snowfall and extreme cold temps kept you from skiing, tobogganing, skating or -- as the more usual case is in B.C. -- gardening! 😉 As for our friends in Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut -- we hope you had a good Monday at school, work or wherever you happened to be. Maybe you too managed to squeeze in some craft time!

Have you ever wondered what sort of crafts were practiced when winter evenings stretched long and cold, or summer days stretched long and hot? When there were fewer demands for our attention from the screens in our homes, offices or hands?

Papier-mâché project in progress.
Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0
Once upon a time...over twenty-five years ago...there was papier-mâché (paper mache) -- a process whereby paper strips (often newspaper strips) or pulpy paper are applied to a form (e.g. a blown-up balloon or a structure made with chicken wire) with glue or a mixture of starch and water to create a creature or some other sort of sculpture. Once dry, these are painted in lively colours for even more fun.

While this craft hasn't disappeared entirely (it's often used in schools -- especially for creating mountains in geography classes!), it left the purview of The Crafty Lady back in the late nineteen nineties, when the store was still in its first location -- the basement of the Home Hardware store in Lacombe.

Ditto for paper ribbon, raffia and papers for Découpage. Purchasing pom-poms in bulk followed.

In the years when the Shop was at 5009 - 50 Street, its stock of wood and wood-working supplies, model kits and supplies, slate, fimo, tole painting and other art supplies left the shop. These left in large part because other vendors set up shop in town -- especially for models and art supplies -- and The Crafty Lady didn't want to take business from them by carrying the same supplies.

As for zippers, lace and trims -- no one was buying them; they were gathering dust. And so they went too.

Meanwhile, knitting was experiencing a resurgence -- followed quickly by crochet. There was greater demand for a wide variety of yarn and yarn-crafting supplies and so...

Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, patterns and assorted yarn-crafting supplies were brought in to fill the holes left by the departure of other craft supplies.

With the advent of social media, online forums were being established -- places where yarn-crafters could "gather" in cyberspace to talk about their projects, learn new techniques, share patterns, knowledge, information and experiences with yarn. Clara Parkes' Knitters Review began as such shortly after the turn of the century -- with both an online newsletter and forum. Though her forum closed in 2015 so that Clara could pursue other interests -- such as adding two new books to her existing three -- Clara still has a newsletter, as well as writing for other yarn-craft publications.

In 2007, Casey and Jessica Forbes founded Ravelry -- a free online yarn-crafting social media site. Members have to create an online ID name and presence in order to use the service -- and at first it was so popular, there was a waiting list to get your presence created! Now the platform has grown and is keeping up with its membership, which includes those who knit, crochet, spin, weave, dye, sell and/or write about yarn, as well as those who design patterns for knitting and crochet.

This wonderful resource is invaluable for The Crafty Lady and her staff, because it allows us to serve our customers better -- pairing them with yarns that will work with a given pattern, finding out whether or not a yarn is discontinued, showing them photos of projects made in a given yarn, and selling them patterns from online designers -- including our own Crafty Lady's Designs!

Some crafts haven't completely died out, though, while others are making a come-back.

One of the latter is macrame -- for which The Crafty Lady's just recently been able to meet the demand with a new yarn: "Scuby" cotton from Katia (stop by the shop to see Lori's macrame purse!)

As for the former -- embroidery and beading have continued to be popular. The Crafty Lady has an excellent supply of DMC embroidery floss, and a selective supply of cross-stitch and even-weave (Lugana) fabrics for counted work. The Shop also carries tapestry yarn and a selection of printed tapestries for needle point.

At the same time, there's a full selection of Mill Hill and other beads for embellishments, plus beads and other ornaments for jewellry making, as well as a good range of chainmaille supplies and tools -- including kits from "We've Got Maille".

Who knows what's in store for The Crafty Lady in the years to come?

One thing we know for sure: that TCL will try its best to keep up with trends in crafts, while stocking the best yarn selection in Central Alberta, and providing kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable service to our customers.

Meanwhile the celebration continues! Don't forget to check our Facebook Page for our daily 25th Anniversary Specials that run through February 28 -- and if you're in the area drop in to see what's new for spring!

As for Knit Night -- the coffee and tea and snacks will be ON every Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. (cost: $5.00, including GST). Drop by, bring your latest project and join in the fun!

Thanks for a wonderful quarter century!  
See you in the Shop!

*Written by Margaret, happy TCL employee who loves to discuss yarn and knitting with our customers, almost as much as she loves knitting itself!

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