Friday, March 30, 2012

Dancing Beads - Medford, Oregon

Location: Medford, Oregon
Shop:       Dancing Beads
Owner:    Carol

Medford has 70,000 folks and only one bead shop. Carol actually closed Dancing Beads a couple of years ago, thinking she was done with the bead store. She tried a couple of other things, including writing HTML and helping with web sites, but she soon found that she really enjoyed playing with her beads and cats more. Carol felt she needed to take her "office" out of her home environment which was too distracting (all those beads, and that cat), so she went searching for an office space. She found a spot in her neighborhood in a home that had been converted to retail/office space. As she was getting a feel for the place, she says a voice popped into her head 'This is going to be my new beadshop', and she answered back 'that's funny, I didn't know I was going to open another bead shop'.

She still had a lot of stock from the store she had closed a couple years back, so she opened up another bead shop. She had a lot of her old customers come back relieved that she decided to do it again, and she's gained new customers as well.

They've got a great selection of classes, and the class size is usually limited to six people, which makes it easy to get some one-on-one with the instructor. I was impressed that for a small(ish) bead shop, they've found some great ways of displaying a lot of merchandise.

Medford is located just north of California on I-5, worth a layover if you're passing through.

Next stop: Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Middleford Yarn & Stitchery - Medford, Oregon

Location: Medford, Oregon
Shop:       Middleford Yarn & Stitchery Shoppe
Owner:    Sonja

Medford is in southern Oregon just north of Ashland on I-5. 70,000 people live in this sunny valley. It's location between two mountain ranges, the Siskiyous and the Cascades, allows the rain that permeates the pacific northwest to bypass Medford. On average, they get 180 more days of sun  than Seattle. That's half a year. Kinda depressing when you think about it.

Sonja has a lot of things on her plate. She does custom upholstery, runs a furniture shop, has the yarn shop (which includes counted cross-stitch), plus she offers individual lessons, and all under one roof.

She's been doing upholstery for 20 years in Medford, the yarn shop came 10 years later. She says she's addicted to both hobbies. She even makes most of the samples adorning the furniture in the show room, like the bed in the middle above.

Another store with lots of inspiring samples. According to Sonja, the key to having your store samples not take over your back room is to make only things she likes and that fit her. That's smart, I think.

Her shop has a 'Stitch-In' on Thursday nights, a 'Help Time' on Wednesdays as well as the weekends as long as they're not too busy, plus they have 'Social Stitch' all day on the weekends. That's the knitting schedule, there's also things happening for the cross-stitchers, check the website if you're interested.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Beadman - Redding, California

Location: Redding, California
Shop:       The Beadman
Owner:    Sandra
Website:  nope

Redding is in the northern Sacramento Valley, just before you start trekking up the Cascade Mountains. The day we were there, it was a cool low 60's, but still warm enough that all I needed was a sweater, and this is the first of March, still winter. Not the warm sunny weather of southern California, but not the drizzly miserableness of Seattle either.

One look at the sign on the door and you know this isn't your average bead shop. This sign was obviously put up before California's gun laws changed, because now it's against the law to carry a loaded weapon in California, unless your in the military, police or FBI. But this is a crafting blog, enough about laws and guns.

This shop has a foster puppy, Rusty. He's definitely a pit bull mix, what the other part is is unknown, I personally thought of a Queensland Heeler, since that's what my dogs are, and he reminded me of my dogs, but the gals at the shop thought he might be part pointer, since he tends to point. I still think heeler. If you're interested in adopting Rusty, Sandra's asking $100, she's spent 10x that in the vet bills to fix his leg, he's got a metal rod in there, which is why he has the cone on.

Not only does this place have beads, they've got clothes, jewelry, knick knacks, dragons, fairies, wind chimes, magnets, etc... This is a great place to get someone a gift, whether you're getting for a crafty person or not, there's a lot of stuff in this place.

I've been beading for over 20 years and I've shopped at a lot of bead shops (and worked at one awesome one), one thing I liked about this shop is the way they displayed their Czech seed beads. Seead beads come from two places, either Japan or the Czech Republic. The Japanese bag their seed beads, then it's up to retail stores to either tube them, or sell them in smaller bags. The Czech strand their beads, which can get messy when displaying. But The Beadman was smart (I think), they have a sample strand on the wall of each color/size/shape they carry, instead of pulling your selection off the wall, you pick from the bins under the display. Very smart & very tidy.

This was our last California stop. Now it's time to hit the grocery store and get everything triple bagged. Oregon doesn't allow plastic bags, and that's what we use in the camper for our garbage bags so we don't have to purchase any. We will also need to pick up my drink of choice: Vodka. It's at least $5 cheaper per bottler here in California. Washington state will soon be that low, but not until all the state run liquor stores close which will be by June 2012, and I'll be in Montana then. Happy and sad are weird emotions to have regarding the same subject, I'm sad I'm leaving my friends and family in Seattle, but happy about finally being in Montana.

Next stop: Medford, Oregon

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sew What! - Redding, California

Location: Redding, California
Shop:       Sew What!
Owner:     Lisa

Redding is in northern California along I-5, approximately 100 miles fromt he border of Oregon. 90,000 people live in Redding which is the county seat for Shasta County, and where 1/2 of the county's population live, the other 90,000 are spread out between the county's two other towns, Anderson and Shasta Lake City.

I sell primarily to knitting shops, and I have sold to a few quilt shops in the past year, but this is the first quilting & knitting shop I've sold to. Lisa opened Sew What! as a quilt shop 10 years ago, the yarn came in a year later. When asked if she was a quilter or a knitter, she quickly answered, "Both!"

The yarn is in it's own room inside the quilt shop, but don't let that fool you into thinking they have a limited supply, there was plenty to choose from, you just have to get by the fabric first, good luck. While I visited, there was a class going on in the yarn area. I asked all the gals what the class was, and they all just kinda shrugged their shoulders and said knitting. Each one of them had a completely different project going on and the instructor was there to help address any issues they might have. I really didn't see much instructing going on, I think these gals just come in to "class" to knit together, because they were still there while the instructor had gone on to her next appointment.

I think I found the socks I want to knit. The sample on the right in the picture above (on the left) has beads at the top. I think they're calling my name. Soon my pretties, soon.

Next stop: a bead shop in Redding, California

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Knit This, Purl That! - Pleasanton, California

Location: Pleasanton, California
Shop:       Knit This, Purl That!
Owner:    Sandy

Pleasanton is a suburb of San Francisco, and for this trip, it's as close to the bay area as we are going to get. There's over 70,000 people in Pleasanton, which happens to be ranked as the wealthiest middle-sized city in the U.S. (according to wikipedia). It's part of Alameda county, which has over 1.5 million residents.

Sandy is not the original owner of the store, but she was the first customer and the first student. That was six years ago. The original owner had family matters take her out of town, and it was too difficult to run the store from a distance, so she put it up for sale. Sandy was extremely disappointed that the shop that had started her passion for knitting was closing. After discussing it with her husband, they decided to purchase the shop, that was two months ago and she doesn't regret a thing.

The store has made great use of it's small space. There's a classroom area that is its own room, also referred to as the library, plus a comfy couch and chair in the middle of the store. Plenty of samples to inspire you, plus she has kits put together so you don't have to fret about which weight or colors to use. One thing her store had that I don't see in a lot of stores, is man samples. That's Fabio below, he does a great job of showing off that scarf.

She also has some great gift ideas in her shop, including these fun bags. One other thing I noticed about this shop that's a little different, are the knitting parties. They can be held at the store, or they'll come to you. A great idea for girls night in, or a baby shower? Plus, her beginning knitting classes are free! They're two hours, and the only requirement is that you purchase the items to learn with at her store. That's a pretty good deal.

Next stop: Redding, California

Two Sisters and Ewe - La Mesa, California

Location: La Mesa, California
Shop:       Two Sisters and Ewe
Owner:    Jane

La Mesa is the third and final city we're visiting in San Diego County. It's a bustling city with nearly 60,000 people. Another trip I made by myself, luckily I have a Garmin, I took 4 highways to get to La Mesa from Encinitas. Some of these highways had 6 lanes in them. Seattle is lucky to have four in some places, and only two running right through downtown. I would have been lost without GPS.

Two Sisters and Ewe is about to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Jane and her sister opened the shop in May of 2002 and Jane's 11 year old son came up with the name. Now Jane runs the place on her own, her sister decided to go farm in Arkansas after 3 1/2 years of yarning. Jane seems to be okay with that.

While I was there, a local artist, George Wright, came in to sell his ceramic yarn bowls. One side has two holes and the other side has an angled slit in the side for your yarn. Each one is unique and truly a piece of art. Those are my buttons in the bowl above.

There was also a small girl getting individual lessons while I was there. The gal that was instructing her was really friendly, I happened to overhear her say that she was also a doll maker and some of her dolls have been presented to some pretty famous people, including a previous president's child.

La Mesa is the furthest south we are going on this tour. Now for the quick trip back home. So far seven more shops to visit in four days. My dog, Nina, aka Grandma, is ready to be out of the camper. That's her above, resting her head in the water bowl, she's almost 15, it's easier than standing at this point. It gets pretty tight in here with the two of us and the two medium-sized dogs, not to mention all the dog hair we get to put up with. Our final destination is Polson, Montana, but that doesn't happen until the end of March. So for now, we are cozy and happy.