Margaret Shroeder honestly does not know how long she has been knitting and crocheting, but she recollects that it has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. She was taught to knit by her German grandmother, despite the fact that her grandmother had trouble reading the patterns, which were written in English. “When I started knitting, it was thought of as being beneath a woman to do something so domestic and not supporting the women’s lib movement,” Schroeder explains. “But now it is making a resurgence. It has become really popular among young people.” And it is this very resurgence that makes her store, The Gourmet Yarn Company, a popular gathering place for knitters and crocheters of all ages.
Schroeder says her friends and fellow knitters are to blame for the retail venture that she embarked on in 2004. “We were tired of having to travel out-of-state for quality supplies, so I blame it wholeheartedly on them” she laughs. “But I felt there was a real need for a store like this in Oklahoma City.”
The Gourmet Yarn Company moved to their current location, east of Lake Hefner Parkway on Britton Road, just over three years ago. “It was a good move because it gave us more visibility, a larger classroom, and, of course, more space for yarn,” Schroeder explains.
“We are one store that loves the winter,” Schroeder says. “We actually see an influx of customers with colder weather and the holidays.” She says that knitting hats and scarves are among the most popular requests this time of year and the store has both the inventory and the classes to help with handmade gifts. “We have a novelty yarn that makes a really cute scarf using only the knit stitch,” Schroeder says—and that is just one of the many reasons to visit. “We have the largest inventory around,” she explains. “We are always looking for another reason for our customers to come back in.”
A Different Type of Store
Operating a knitting store is slightly different than running other retail outlets, Schroeder points out. “I can’t just unpack items and put them on the shelf,” she says. “We have to also produce items to showcase our products. So, it’s no longer just a matter of knitting what I want, it becomes production knitting to have the right samples in the store.” The risk of this type of undertaking? “I’ve found I need stress release from the one thing that used to be my stress release!” Schroeder jokes.
For those who knit or crochet for pleasure, The Gourmet Yarn Company provides a large selection of yarns and accessories. The store also stocks a wide variety of needles, hooks, books, patterns, purse handles, trim, buttons, bags and other accessories. “Our selection of yarns is constantly expanding,” she explains. “We currently have yak, buffalo and possum yarn!”
“We strive to service all levels of customers,” Schroeder explains. “We have everything from high-end yarn to yarn for everyday use, in all price ranges.”
Serving Every Skill Level
The Gourmet Yarn Company also provides knitting and crocheting classes and private lessons on an ongoing basis. “We keep our class size very limited to keep our student-to-instructor ratio low,” Schroeder says. “We want each student to get lots of individual attention.” Classes are offered for every skill level, from very beginners to advanced. “We really encourage anyone who is interested in the fiber arts to take a class to learn the basics,” she explains. “It is possible to teach yourself, but it often leads to bad habits. The best way is to learn the proper method right off the bat.” Class offerings change on a monthly basis and also include a weekly “Project Help” class for those who need help starting or finishing a project.
The store also offers a Knit-In on the second Saturday of each month from 4:00–8:00pm, a potluck gathering of knitters and crocheters with fun door prizes, including books, yarn and every knitter’s dream—the opportunity to win store credit.
More Than Just a Stitch
Schroeder says the most rewarding part of operating The Gourmet Yarn Company is watching people learn and develop new skills while developing a love for knitting or crocheting. “It seems like it is such a stressful time for everyone. So much is flying at us all the time,” she explains. “Knitting is a rhythmic, Zen-like experience. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and feed your creative side.” And the best part is that it works around your schedule. “It is the perfect thing to do while kids practice or while you are sitting in the carpool lane,” Schroder says. “And you have something beautiful to show for it in the end.”
What do customers love most?
“Selection. The sheer amount of merchandise that we have,” Schroeder says. “We are often told that we are the best yarn store that they have ever been in!”
The Gourmet Yarn Company
2915 West Britton Road, Oklahoma City
Thursday, 10am–8pm; Friday, 10am–6pm;
Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sunday, noon–5pm* (*October 1–March 1 only)
Brooke Barnett is the Assistant Editor of MetroFamily Magazine.