By Drake the Dog
Reader Pet Columnist
Where am I taking my humans today? The Mister and Missus are expecting their first granddaughter soon. To welcome the little one, the Missus decided to get a new leash on life by dusting off a craft she learned in the fourth grade. Here we go:
•The business owner’s first job was in a “pop” factory at the age of 9.
•An elementary craft would enable him to be “productive” during long winters.
•He has an antique valise filled with his art that remains unfinished.
•His home studio has over 20 “machines” that produce his projects.
So who’s going to take a “bow-wow” on this one? Let’s not get too ruff.
Amid the sound of conversation, laughter and clicking needles, we are welcomed by Charles, the owner of Something Olde Something New, the only yarn shop in town, located in Foster’s Crossing, 504 Oak St. The Missus is in love with this 900 square foot place filled floor-to-ceiling with gorgeous yarn. Team members Patty, Jenny, Beth and Debbie know more about knitting than I will ever learn in my lifetime. If you know someone who is a knit-a-holic, tell them to grab a copy of “Knitting for Dummies” and go!
As we listened to Charles spin a yarn, I was amazed to learn that knitting is obsessive, therapeutic, good for concentration, develops patience, increases fine motor skills and is experiencing a big resurgence. Daily knitting classes are offered, and the pack tells me that it’s so much easier to sit and mimic someone as they knit. Repetition is the best way to learn. For this dog, not so much! I was mesmerized watching them, as the four paws and ambidextrous techniques weren’t working for me. Hence, you won’t find winter sweaters and leg warmers knitted by Drake on the shelves. If you choose to make the sampler scarf that Charles has designed, by the time you finish it, you will have mastered all of the basic stitches—knit, pearl, cable, lace and texture. Wowza!
Charles’ stake in yarn shops started when he moved west from Minnesota to California, circa 1976. At that time, he was working as a psychiatric nurse. When he attended parochial school in Winona, Minn., the Sisters of Norte Dame taught him how to knit slippers. Everything else he learned on his own—no classes. The cafeteria ladies taught him how to make granny squares, a hunka-hunka lot of them, which to this day remains a 60-year unfinished project that is still tucked away in an antique suitcase. Back in the day, yarn was moth-proof. Now he looks forward to opening the valise, checking out the goods and fetching a few hours to finish the work of art.
What brought Charles to Sandpoint? Once upon a time, he ventured to the Vancouver World’s Fair, then continued driving to North Idaho. He needed clean clothes, so he stopped at the local laundro-mut. While waiting for his laundry, he nabbed a snack at Arby’s. He decided Sandpoint would be a good place to retire, so he bought a house and opened the yarn store. Charles’ 14-year-old poodle, Cindy Bear, stays at home guarding his spinning wheels, looms and 20-plus knitting machines. Wonder what keeps her busy during the day?
This barkin’ fun spot reminds me of a factoid I read while researching this story. Since dog hair is a nuisance for most people, I asked Charles if he has ever heard of knitting with chiengora—a blend of angora and dog hair. As you know, I emit many of these magical fibers of love daily. (Did I tell you that the Mister just got a new hand-held Dyson to trap these fibers?) This concept is not new, as the Inuit folks in the Far North have used dog fur in clothing for thousands of years. It’s warmer than sheep’s wool, naturally harvested with a brush, rake or comb from the dog’s undercoat and goes through a lengthy process to prepare it for knitting — no wet dog smell!
Bow wow. Hang on to your coats, pups. Wool, cotton and acrylic yarn cost about $1.50-$2 per ounce. However, spinners usually charge about $12 per ounce of dog hair yarn. A custom sweater of poodle yarn can pawsibly cost several hundred dollars!
The customer service in the yarn shop is four paws up and genuine. Jenny and Pat taught the Missus how to make an easy seed stitch baby blanket, and it’s almost finished. It’s so soft that my kitty sister is claiming dibs. Dream on, kitty. Grand baby no. 1 rules!
Dogs are welcome here, and there is always a water bowl under the rocker in front of the shop.