Nearly five years ago this April, Ann Patterson saved our local yarn shop from being closed for good. She took some needles, kept the name and completely transformed the space into a beautiful new haven for knitters and makers alike. And we are forever grateful! Each of one of us from the Monarch team is so fortunate with her at the helm – it is such a joy to work with and for Ann! So it is with great pleasure that we got to sit down and ask her some questions for our blog…
It’s every knitter’s dream to own a yarn shop, what’s it like being an owner of one?
I have heard a number of people say that they would love to own a yarn shop. Well be prepared, it is not all knitting beautiful fibers with your friends! (Although there is some of that!) As business owners go, I am very fortunate. How many people actually get to work in a field they are passionate about? It is a great job as you get to use both the creative side of your brain and the business side. You meet a huge number of amazing people and learn something new every day. That said, being an owner of a Local Yarn Shop (LYS) is challenging in today’s marketplace. There are a lot of stresses that go with the fun, but it does get easier each year.
What do you think the most important element is in Monarch Knitting’s success?
That is the easiest question to answer… the people!
I can count my lucky stars regarding the team at the store. Koryn, Diane, Jana, Heather, Jenn and Alyssa are the most important element that makes Monarch Knitting what it is today. Their expertise and customer service bring our friends back to us and they are the people that build the community for our shop. Not many business owners get to work with such wonderful and talented people!
The loyalty our local clients and friends from out of town have shown us over the years has been so important. We would not be able to open our doors each day with out all of them. We are so pleased that they choose to shop with us, as we love being the LYS for so many!
The knitters that visit the Monterey Peninsula are an important element to our business as well. The visitors help to sustain the health of the business in combination with our local clients. I love welcoming people from all over the country, and the world at times, to the store. It is fun to chat with them to hear what brings them to the area. Monarch is lucky enough to see some of them from each year as they return to our beautiful Monterey Peninsula.
There is always so much going on at the shop, what’s a typical work week look like for you?
The last thing owning a yarn store gives you is a cookie cutter workweek! I am an early riser, so I start my day at about 5:30am. I love this time of morning. I make my latte and sit down at the computer to answer emails, do some accounting and take care of any writing or planning that has to be done for the store. If I am going into the store that day, I will wrap up at about 8:00am so I can take Linus out for a walk and get ready for work. If I am not heading into the store, I will continue to work throughout the day with breaks for errands and snuggles with Linus. Days that I spend preparing the newsletter or getting ready for an event, all bets are off. You take what comes you way when you are doing that!
Most vendors send out a weekly newsletter to their shops and I try to read most of them. You would be surprised at how much content that is. I gain a lot of inspiration for projects and classes from these emails as the ideas and photography are, for the most part, lovely. I also spend some time perusing Instagram and Ravelry each day to see what is popular and what the knitting community is talking about.
I like to sit and knit if I am home in the late afternoon. Something I hope to be better about in the year ahead. After all, it is work, isn’t it?
When you’re not working, what are some of your other passions/hobbies?
I love to spend time with friends and family. When my daughters are home for a few days, my work world stops and I try to capture every moment I can with them. They both live on the East coast for work and school so these visits are too few and far between. (My oldest has been transferred to Austin so she will be a bit closer to home!)
I love to cook and really enjoy baking bread. I have not done it much as of late and it is something I hope to get back to in the next few months. I adore taking long walks with Linus and my husband, especially along our stunning coast. I am an avid baseball fan and try to catch most of Giants games. My other passion is (surprise!) knitting. Sitting down to knit gives me great joy and is an important part of each day. It is my ultimate form of relaxation and something I do for my well-being.
We are always in such awe whenever you complete a project – you knit so fast and beautifully! What have been some of your favorite pieces to knit over the years?
One of my favorite pieces to wear is my Cambridge Shawl by Carol Sunday. It is simple but beautiful. That tends to be my theme! I have loved knitting and wearing Spark of Grey and Whiteout both by Melanie Berg, Multigrain by Antonia Shankland (I may knit it again in another color), Bodie by Elizabeth Doherty, Big Herringbone Cowl by Purl Soho and Architexture by Jennifer Weissman.
How do you keep your projects organized?
I love to organize so this arena is right in my wheelhouse! Each project has its own bag with yarn and pattern in a handy corner sleeve, of course. The other thing project bag has is its own notions bag. This bag has all the notions necessary for that project in either a Byrd & Belle or Walker pouch. Since I work on multiple projects at a time, I like to be able to pick up the bag containing that project and know that I will not have to search for a pair of scissors, a different needle size or a stitch marker. Each knitting bag is self-contained with everything I need for a project. Needless to say I have multiple of most notions!
I make notes on my patterns as I work on them and then I transfer everything into a notebook once the project is complete so I can keep track of any changes I have made. I have many sets of interchangeable needles and they are all contained in Della Q or Twig and Horn needle cases. My master notion bag is one that my daughters gave me for Mother’s Day years ago. I could go on and on… perhaps this should be its own blog post.
What’s currently on your needles?
I am finishing up Athos by Shellie Anderson for the shop. This cowl can be worn many different ways and is knit from one of my favorite yarns, Shibui Pebble. I am half way through the Maeve Scarf by Heidi Hennessy using a Lux Adorna Cashmere’s Loft Lux Braid. We had this piece at Stitches and I was always eager to wrap it around my neck. It is so soft and I love the bright colors; an unusual thing for me! I am just about to start a coat, Aspen by Michelle Wang, using Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. We had the piece in the shop for a couple of weeks and I kept coming back to it, so it must go on my needles. I am also slightly obsessed with Dohne by Gretha Mensen right now.
Current favorite books/music/podcasts/shows?
Alice Waters’ memoir, Coming to My Senses is on my night table right now. I enjoy listening to podcasts, especially when I fly, Making (formally Woolful), Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Stuff You Should Know, This American Life and The Splendid Table. My Spotify account is filled with everything from Mozart, The Hics, Sergio Mendez and the Brazil 66 (a nod to riding in my mom’s car as a child), Pearl Jam, Kaskade, Drake and a ton of single songs from a RANDOM group of artists.
I am a “Netflix Knitter”! When I sit and knit at home I will pop a show on and watch while I stitch. I love The Great British Baking Show, Grantschester, Grace and Frankie, The Crown, Chef’s Table, Sherlock and Wallander. (Gee, do you see any British programming theme in that sentence?) Anytime The Hunt for Red October is on, I stop everything and watch it. It is one of my favorite movies. Of course, if the Giants are playing that is on the TV!
The shop is celebrating five years this month as the new Monarch. How does this make you feel/what are your thoughts?
I just cannot believe it has been 5 years! My decision to purchase Monarch was made fairly quickly as the store was going to close if no one had purchased it. With my husband’s help we put together a business plan and tried to understand the realities of owning a local yarn store. I am most proud of how much I have learned over the last 5 years and continue to do so. It has also been wonderful to have my daughters watch me build something from the ground up later in life. Hopefully this will teach them that taking calculated risks are a good thing. (Please note, the mother in me emphasizes “calculated risks”.) The best thing about owning Monarch is the relationships I have built. Whether it is with our amazing staff, talented vendors or lovely customers, the people are the best and most joyful part of this journey.
As we look ahead toward the upcoming Summer and Fall seasons, what’s in store for you and Monarch?
This question comes at the right time for me! With the 5-year anniversary of the store I have been thinking a lot about where I am personally. One thing that I am going to work on is personal wellness. Because I work from home so much, I tend to get lost in the tasks at hand and, before I know it, a 10-hour workday has passed. Part of my goal is to take some time for me each afternoon and on weekends. I am going to try to get back into doing some yoga and just slowing my life down a bit. We will see if those best laid plans actually work!
As for the store, between the team and me, we always have new ideas in the works. We are going to be a vendor in a knitting retreat in August and at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco this September. Both events will be a huge learning experience. We would like to feature a local hand dyer at the store in the near future and then extend that to highlighting the work of small batch dyers who come from different parts of the country. We will continue to search for interesting teachers and vendors to bring to the store and we will have some wonderful visitors over the next year. Then there will be events and opportunities that will come to us as a complete surprise. You have to be prepared for anything when you own a knitting store!
For a little fun…
Thank you so much for indulging us, Ann! Happy shop anniversary! We look forward to your future blog posts, new shop events, and more!