Vol. LXIII, No. 19
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
HANDS-ON: Our vendors have told us that regarding size, selection, and variety of yarn, we are in the top two percent of the country. Stacey Keeler, manager (left) and Susan Olson, owner, of The Woolly Lamb in Pennington, look forward to introducing even more customers to their popular store.
Susan Olson has always loved to knit and to needlepoint. Having been taught by her mother, she is now delighted to share her love for these needle arts with customers and friends at her shop, The Woolly Lamb.
I had learned to knit and needlepoint when I was 10, she recalls. One summer, my mom taught me knitting, and the next summer needlepoint.
She continued to enjoy these activities while earning a degree in fine arts at Syracuse University, when rearing her family, and also during her career in the pharmaceutical industry, including owning a pharmaceutical research company.
When I retired, my kids thought I should do something, and I decided Id open the shop, she explains. I felt that not all the stores had a good grade of yarn and not enough colors. I tried to have a variety of color in a particular yarn. I like colors, and I have vibrant colors. And I buy enough so that someone could make two adult sweaters. Also, Im the only store in the area to carry cashmere. We have hand-dyed yarn and yarn spun by hand.
The Woolly Lamb opened in 2003, and has been at its current location at 7 Tree Farm Road in Pennington for the past three years. It offers knitting, needlepoint, and crocheting supplies, accessories, and instruction.
The shop developed a following right away, reports Ms. Olson. There was a big surge of interest in knitting when I opened. It was very popular. Knitting is a comforting activity, and I found that people just like to come in to knit and get together. Its not even on a schedule.
I remember when I first opened, an elderly lady came in and said she and her husband had moved here to be near her son. She thought shed like to knit again. I introduced her to another lady, and then, later, they came back in again together; they had become friends.
It was important to me to have people on the staff who are very knowledgeable about knitting and who can help customers; people with the personality to help customers with kindness and patience. For example, if someone is working on a project, she (or he) can always come back and get help. There are always at least three of us here.
Offering a warm, welcoming atmosphere with knowledgeable, experienced staff, is indeed a big priority. We strive to provide a warm and attractive shop for customers to learn new techniques for knitting, crocheting, and needlepoint. We offer a huge selection of finer knitting and crocheting yarns, and a large selection of hand-painted needlepoint canvases, together with a varied selection of high-end needlepoint threads and fibers.
Knitting yarns from all over the world include wool, alpaca, cashmere, mohair, angora, linen, cotton, and organic, as well as metallic yarns, and Fizz, which is popular for trim and toys. Needlepoint threads include mixed fibers and silk and wool. People like to come in to feel the yarns, says Ms. Olson. Texture is important.
A big variety of samples is on display, including baby items, sweaters, gloves, mittens, scarves, etc., all knitted by the staff. There are also numerous patterns and books available.
We are always trying to develop new things and make designs, points out Ms. Olson. I love good design and enjoy designing things myself.
Baby items, such as sweaters. blankets, hats, etc., are always very popular knitting projects, and there are at least 20 different baby patterns available. People love to knit handmade gifts for babies, says Ms. Olson. Another item that is popular now is the non-denominational prayer shawl. Its a size between a blanket and a shawl, explains Ms. Olson. You can wrap up in it, and its comforting.
Patterns for knitted toys, animals, dolls, and even for dogs (sweaters) are in abundance.
Customers, who include beginners to advanced, all ages, and men and women, come from all over the area, as well as beyond, she adds. Those who like needlepoint will find all they need, including a wonderful assortment of handpainted canvases in a variety of styles and sizes. All are painted by needlepoint artists.
Many people are starting now to make Christmas gifts, both knitting and needlepoint, says Ms. Olson. With the latter, ornaments, stockings, and pillows are popular, and we have many holiday canvases. We also have professional finishers for needlepoint pillows, stockings, etc.
People love to make needlepoint items in all categories she adds. Footstool covers, tote and handbags, belts, watch straps, eyeglass cases, wallets, purses, credit card and jewelry cases. There is no end of possibilities.
A complete selection of knitting and needlepoint accessories is available, including needles, crochet hooks, stitch markers, and needle protectors, among many others. The store also is known for its beautiful buttons, including many that are handmade.
Prices cover a wide range, with yarns from $4.50 to $30 a ball; needlepoint canvases are $25 and up. There is always a sale table with warehouse yarn at discounts of 50 percent. In addition, the annual anniversary sale is currently offered through May.
We also offer a special discount for teens on special occasions, and we send everyone a card offering a 20 percent discount during their birthday month, says Ms. Olson.
Instruction is another feature of The Woolly Lamb. Classes or private instruction are available in knitting, needlepoint, and crocheting, mostly in 2-hour sessions. They are offered at all levels and in many categories.
In addition, people enjoy getting together for open knitting sessions on Wednesday morning from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday evening from 6 to 8. Knitters talk to people. explains Ms. Olson. They like to share their project. A lot of people have become friends here. Its not about the finished product for knitters, its the process.
The Woolly Lamb also sponsors several charity knitting events each year, including Project Linus, for which blankets are knitted and donated to babies born to impoverished mothers.
Her relationship with the sales reps and customers has been a big pleasure for Ms. Olson. I also love the buying and seeing all the new yarns. Most of all, we are known for our friendly, excellent customer service, and our wonderful selection of yarns. I want the shop to be a haven for people to come in to be together and knit. Some people come in every day.
The shop is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. (609) 730-9800. Website: www.thewoolylamb.com.
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