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Conversation with Kerrie Nicholson, Owner of "I Yarn For Ewe"

Published June 30th, 2023

String is a vibrant word. Spoken out loud, string forces sharp consonants with the tip of the tong, and the tight “ing” finish. String feels more lively than “yarn.” The word “string” pulls me into a new frame of mind when imagining the materials I work with so frequently. String is inclusive to thread, rope, twine, yarn, floss. The strings of a marionette, rising and dipping, allowing the playfulness of movement. Or miniature hammers inside a piano, striking the strings to produce music. I use string to tie up fresh oregano and spearmint in bunches to dry. Strings make a woven shirt. Strings weave the old rug.

I was introduced to string in a conversation with Kerrie Nicholson, owner of “I Yarn for Ewe.” At a round table in her new yarn shop, she said “I've always loved knitting and crocheting, really anything with a string.” She used the term again when describing the shop’s vision, “Our tagline is — a yarn shop for all. Anybody and everybody is welcome. Bring your strings and come down and hang out.”

Kerrie is following a new string in her life—a multi-colored string, a springy string, fuzzy, hairy, smooth, and shiny string. That is, starting a business, trusting herself, and opening a yarn shop.

Working as an environmental consultant for 26 years (for stressful, high-stakes clients) Kerrie is now prioritizing color in the next stage of her life. In our conversation, she sits with a wall of rainbow yarn behind her. “I've been wanting to open my own business, but nothing really stood out to me. I was researching new business ideas and nothing was falling into place, which is a sign that the world is telling me "this is not quite for you."

Then when Carolyn Parkinson, owner of the former Twisted Ewe, announced the shop’s closing, “It seemed that a light bulb went off” Kerrie said. “I asked her a zillion stupid questions because I had no idea how to start a yarn shop. Carolyn was more than willing to help me get the shop set up. To me, that was a sign from the universe that this was an opportunity to go for.”

I Yarn for Ewe is now the one yarn shop in Boise, Idaho. Located on Emerald and Orchard in the core of the Boise Bench, the shop feels fresh and friendly. “I hope there's some familiarity. I know a lot of people loved the Twisted Ewe, and I did buy a lot of Carolyn's display items.” Inside, you’ll notice the same wood shelves from the Twisted Ewe that have moved less than one mile south Orchard to continue their purpose of holding gorgeous yarn.

“I've been working on this since January. It took a lot of time. It seems like it was recent and yet feels like 10 years ago.” The shop is open, and naturally, there’s still much work to do. “We just set up and now we're expanding and remodeling already in the first month” Kerrie plans to knock down some walls to make more space for classes and open stitching. “I definitely want to make sure that it's comfortable. I don't want it to feel too cramped. But at the same time, I don't want people feeling like they're floating out in the ocean.”

What kind of yarns can you find at I Yarn for Ewe? In its first months of business, you’ll find the classics that we all love. Some in stock brands are Noro, Malabrigo, and Blue Sky Fibers. “We're filling in as we go, and finding new dyers, spinners, colorways, fiber content, and anything that seems interesting and unique.”

Kerrie experienced her first meeting with a yarn rep, admitting, “it was dangerous.”

“Sherry knows her products really well. She makes you want to buy every single thing she talks about. She was here for four hours, and we talked about sock yarn and Noro. That was it! I agreed to purchase all kinds of gorgeous things. Then I had to say okay, wait a second, where are we with this total? It's hard being a shop owner because you want it all.”

In addition to bringing in locally produced yarn, Kerrie also wants to supply products from local businesses. One new business is Irina Boutique, an immigrant owned, woman-owned business in Boise. Irina creates hand-stitched project bags and traditional Slavic dolls called Bereginya. “I really appreciate the quality of handmade products like these project bags,” Kerrie said. “It feels good supporting local businesses.”

I Yarn For Ewe will continue to grow based on community feedback. “I'm taking my cues from the community, asking, where do you want us to go? What can I do to support those wants for inspiration?” We’re fortunate to have a fantastic stitching community in the Treasure Valley. “I pretty much just picked up what Carolyn left at the Twisted Ewe and brought it over. It took her 13 years of building up her client base and the community surrounding her shop. I am doing my best to grow from that community.”

What’s the future for Kerrie and I Yarn For Ewe? Kerrie plans to continue working her environmental consulting job in the back room at the shop. “I have to admit that I struggle a little bit while I'm in the back working. I hear people talking about yarn and their projects, and I would much rather do that.” But when the shop becomes more established, she can transition into fully running her business.

I Yarn for Ewe is gearing up for the fall with better space options for classes. Fall classes will include entry level: knitting, crochet, spinning. Additional advanced technique classes will fill the calendar too. Currently, private lessons are offered by Zena. You can call the shop to get in contact with them directly.

For all of us in the fiber arts community, we are fortunate that Kerrie has filled this string void by opening I Yarn for Ewe! It was only a few months that Boise proper missed having a local yarn shop.

I asked Kerrie if she has any hesitations about this venture. She said, “Every day could potentially be scary. I could allow myself to be scared, but I see that getting anywhere. Anytime I start to feel anxious and worried, I just take a step back and decide not to. I felt a positive response when I decided to take on opening this business. I'm just moving forward with that same energy.”

It takes the full commitment of the community to support a small business, and especially a creative business such as a yarn shop. So, if you haven’t already peeked into I Yarn for Ewe, now is the time! Come say hello to familiar faces, Zena and Stephanie, and meet Kerrie. She will want to hear about what you’re making with string.


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