Where In The World Is Making Stories - Farm To Cable Yarns
Welcome, to this second instalment of Where In The World Is Making Stories! Today, we are heading to Canada to visit our stockist Dale who runs Farm To Cable Yarns. With a passion for natural fibres and a commitment to running her business with eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable practices, Dale stocks yarns from all over the world from yarn produces who share their ethos and values. The result is a shop stocked with beautiful products that often have an equally beautiful story behind them.
Q & A With Dale
Tell us a little about yourself! Where in the world are you?
My name is Dale and I have been knitting for about 7 years. I am originally from Newfoundland and Labrador (which has a great tradition of knitting and all sorts of other fibre arts!) but currently live on a small lake in north-eastern Ontario,Canada. Since I operate Farm to Cable Yarns from my home, this is also where my shop is located.
What is the Knitting community like in your area?
In the immediate area it seems to be non-existent, which was a little frustrating when I left Toronto and first moved up to the lake full-time. I looked for a knitting group or knit night close to me, but there was nothing. However I do have several terrific LYS a few hours away (when you live in the middle of nowhere that qualifies as “local”!). I have also found a great knitting community in Kingston, which is just a couple of hours drive. One of my best friends – who is also a knitter - lives there, and I try to go to knit nights there when I can. There are also quite a few fibre festivals within a few hours of where I Iive, spread throughout the year. I attended several as a vendor last year and absolutely loved it.
Tell us more about ‘Farm To Cable Yarns’! What made you want to open an online knitting store?
I started thinking about opening a yarn shop pretty soon after I took up knitting again. I had just left a corporate job and was considering what to do next. I actually met with the owner of a local LYS who was selling her business at the time – but thankfully I realised that I still had so much to learn about the business side of knitting. As someone still pretty new to the fibre community, with no retail experience, I needed to take small steps – to learn to crawl before walking etc. Another part of the motivation behind opening a yarn shop was the many small producers I was discovering, who were committed to natural yarns and sustainable practices, who cared about their animals, the environment and the kind of footprint they were leaving behind. I really wanted to bring their stories to knitters here and it was really that desire that came first, before landing on what form my shop would take.
You focus on selling natural yarns made by small producers and independent dyers from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. What made you want to specialise in this particular area?
I guess I answered that in part in the last question. When I took up knitting again a few years ago, I did not give a lot of thought to what kind of yarn I was buying, who was producing it or where it came from - I quickly accumulated a huge stash. But as I became more active in the knitting community, through social media and attending festivals, I was exposed to amazing natural yarns, breed specific yarns, natural dyers – to people who took so much care in making these yarns and who had different and fascinating stories to tell. If I can borrow a phrase from Sara Hunt of Fiber Trek - I was really inspired by the idea of a “soulful” stash. I started buying from, knitting with and seeking out those small farms, yarn companies and dyers – most of whom were owned by women, which was also important to me. I guess the focus was initially on the UK/Europe because I was able attend to a number of festivals there and meet so many makers from those areas who were of the same mindset. And while I will continue to support those makers and look for new yarns to bring to Canadians, I also really want to include and support more makers local to me as well.
What made you want to add Making Stories to the products you sell?
There was such an alignment of approach and core values – it was natural. I followed both Verena and Hanna Lisa on social media and when they announced they were starting Making Stories and would be launching WOODS – which was dedicated to European breed specific yarns - I was thrilled. I knew I wanted to get involved and support them (I actually also test knit one of the patterns). More recently, I’m really happy to see the statement that Making Stories has made about diversity and inclusion in the fibre community and how they intend to put this into action. This is an important issue about which I also have to listen, educate myself and reflect on. But I also have to hold myself accountable for how I put this into practice – not just personally but through my business. How we use our voices and our dollars can be very powerful.
Do you have a favourite type of knitting project?
Sweaters or shawls – I go back and forth. I really enjoy understanding the construction of sweaters – and how many different techniques there are.
What is your favourite making tool?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. Maybe the container I keep my stitch markers and notions in – which is actually a small tackle box meant to hold fishing lures! It has great little compartments and comes everywhere with me.
What is your favourite making memory?
Probably knitting Helen Stewart’s Snowmelt shawl for my Mom. She is an incredible maker and can do pretty much anything (she has fixed a lot of my knitting mistakes!). It meant a lot to me to make something for her for a change.
What do you do when you knit - watch a movie, read a book, nothing, ...?
Usually sitting with my cat Luna and listening to podcasts or audiobooks. Sometimes I will watch a movie, but I need something fairly straightforward in that case. I am not a good multi-tasker.