COLLEEN GREEN, The Standard
Meet Carol McGavin and Barb Harvel, the business partners who run Never Enough Wool. Both women are passionate about wool and sharing their knowledge and joy regarding knitting and crocheting.
When asked if they have found more people developing an interest in knitting since covid began, Barb replied, “Obviously with people staying home, the first year for sure. But then it was way more difficult to get into the teaching phase, which a lot of new knitters really look forward to. That one-on-one help is so important to developing a knitter’s or crocheter’s skill. That is the thing we miss the most. We don’t have classes. We don’t have our ‘Sit and Stitches.’ These are so important to our crafting community and something we really really want to get back to — but only when it is safe to do so.”
“We did set up our website because of Covid. We do direct people to YouTube which is a fantastic resource [for instructional knitting videos].” she added.
Carol and Barb have found people are doing the bigger blankets and the real heirloom baby projects — things they’ve always meant to do but never really got around to.
Barb recommends that knitters contemplating a specific project call ahead to order their yarn as Covid has had an affect on the availability of some yarns. If you aren’t sure of what style of yarn you need they can help with that too. “Yes, we run a quick little five minute teaching about how to pick the yarn, what to look for, where to look on the yarn ball band to find the information that you need. This is a great place to start to find the yarn. Often a pattern will ask for a yarn that you simply cannot get in Port Perry or anywhere nearby. The bonus of dropping in here as opposed to shopping at a big box store where the workers do not have the same depth of knowledge in terms of substituting yarns is that we can find the right yarn so that the crafter is able to successfully complete the project.”
When asked what Barb’s favourite aspect of knitting is, she shared, “For me it is teaching. I love it when I can teach a new stitch and people have that light bulb moment, and they are away to the races. And our favourite thing is people coming in with their finished projects to show us what they have accomplished, sometimes with our help and sometimes not. Personally, lace knitting is a huge favourite for us, and the more complex, the better. It gets your mind working in a focused way. It is also relaxing because there is no room in your head for any other thinking. You have to count, you have to really pay attention to what you are doing. So there is not a lot of room for fussing and worrying about anything else.”
According to Barb an the benefits to knitting are, “ …the creation of beautiful and useful items, keeping my fingers busy and nimble, and avoiding too many snacks!”
In response to the question, ‘What would is a good project for a first time knitter?’, Barb said, “Often times people will tell you a scarf or a dishcloth. I would say it really depends on the individual knitter. Every knitter comes in thinking ‘I want to accomplish this goal’, Be it a hat, a blanket, something for a grandchild. That is where you should start. Whatever is interesting to the customer.”
Never Enough Wool is doing their part to promote this skill by teaching local Brownie and Guide groups and teaching knitting classes at the store and the uxbridge library, prior to Covid. The kids themselves are showing up at Never Enough Wool’s door asking to learn. In the Before [Covid] times, we had a number of young knitters who just jumped in and took off. I think there is a pocket, if you will, of kids, any gender and kind, who will take to knitting like a duck to water, which is amazing.”
“We have a lot of 25 to 30 year olds, who are looking around and thinking ‘I need something to relax’, because my life is crazy, be it with children, work, whatever they have going on in their lives.” They pop in all of a sudden and say ‘Hey, i want to learn how to knit or i want to learn how to crochet.’
Carol and Barb have discovered that knitting and crochet terminology varies widely throughout the world, as does the style of instructions provided in a pattern. They have gotten rather proficient at deciphering these differing patterns and making them ‘north american’ friendly. “There is also an age difference. Patterns written in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are different than patterns that are written for today. Some of the patterns from the early years assume a level of knowledge that isn’t always happening. A lot of folks back in the day would have learned to knit at school, at a very young age using verbal instructions instead of written instructions. So patterns written at that time were written from that perspective. Patterns today don’t assume as much knowledge.”
And if someone is working on a project and they cannot figure it out, “bring it in. This is one of the things we do routinely in the shop. We kind of missed it during Covid but it is back now. We can’t have people sitting around the table all day but if you’ve got a problem pop on in. We will figure it out. We will walk out to the park if we need to just to be able to spend a few more minutes to help figure out the problem.
“Knit-In-Public-Day is an international event that we plan to bring back post-Covid. It is sponsored by a number of different guilds and knitting collectives to bring attention to the skill of knitting. Besides, it is fun to go knit in public. People will stop and ask you what you’re working on. It is a great way to make friends.” said Barb.
When asked why should someone who has never knit or crocheted consider doing so? Barb explained, “[With] knitting and crocheting, you get to create. Which is maybe something you don’t get to do in your daily life. There are a lot of jobs out there that are not creative. So if you need an outlet that is quieting to your mind and sort of relaxing; this is where knitting and crocheting are wonderful. It is repetitive, it is soothing, yet at the end of the day you’ve got something that you have created and put your own personality into. You can either wear it or give it away as a gift with pride.
Even if you have a creative job, being creative on demand for other people can be very difficult. Doing it for yourself is satisfying. You get to be the boss and make the decisions, which is exciting. As a hobby it is not something that has a deadline, requirement or a need to please anyone but your own self.”
Stop by Never Enough Wool to pick up your supplies and tips. Carol and Barb are happy to assist and encourage both seasoned and novice knitters.
Never Enough Wool is located at 26 Water Street, in Port Perry. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 905-985-0030. You can also visit them on their website at www.neverenoughwool.ca.