Meet Koryn

On most days at the shop, you will find a cheerful, smiling, loving manager who is always ready and eager to help.  Even amidst the piles of patterns to organize, shipments of new yarns to check in, orders to go out, shelves to be sorted, teaching classes, the list could go on – Koryn is there with a warm greeting to any who walk into Monarch.  After taking some time off to be with her new little one, she is back at the shop and has indulged us here on our blog.  We’ve all missed her so!

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How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?

I have always been interested in any craft I could do with my hands. I did a lot of macrame and beaded jewelry.  I even worked part-time for about a year with a Venetian glass jewelry designer. The first thing I ever did with yarn was a big crocheted afghan that took me about 2 years to finish!  While walking through a craft store looking for other projects to get my hands on, I found myself very attracted to the look and feel of some knitted items. I bought some yarn, needles and my first knitting book (Knitting for Dummies, ha!) and taught myself to knit a scarf….I was hooked!!! I could not put my needles down! I was so excited when I discovered Monarch Knitting in 2006. I started visiting often looking for new pretty things. I visited so often in fact, that I decided to ask for a part time job. I was shocked when I got hired on the spot! I had very little knitting experience but I made it a goal to absorb as much knit-knowledge as I could. I learned a lot from my co-workers, books and tons of practice, practice, practice! Turns out I was a knitting sponge! I was obsessed with all of the colors, textures and the endless possibilities. I had no idea my part time just for fun job would turn into my full time passion. I have been a part of Monarch Knitting ever since.

What’s it like to work at every knitter’s dream job?

I’m so happy to come to work everyday! I feel constantly inspired by all of the colors and possibilities. I also really enjoy teaching and sharing all of my knit-knowledge. My absolute favorite thing about my job is all of the talented wonderful people I meet everyday. We really do have quite an amazing knitting community here. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I was lucky enough to have met our Ann years ago and have since had the opportunity to help build such a beautiful shop we have today. I feel so proud of Monarch and how it has grown and continues to grow! (See some of us with Shibui below at Stitches West!)

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When you’re not being a boss at managing Monarch, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?

I do love spending time with my hubby, Patrick, and my family. I love doing anything outdoorsy like camping and hiking. Yosemite is actually one of my very favorite places in the world! We try to visit once a year.  On the flip side, I can also be kind of a homebody. I do enjoy my Netflix and knitting!

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How do you keep from not buying everything in the store?

Oh my! That is hard!! I want just about every little thing in this shop! I have accumulated quite a collection of yarns over the years just like most crazy knitters.

What are some of your most favorite yarns/patterns?

These days I am really into anything Shibui. I recently finished a beautiful pullover by Elizabeth Doherty called Dillion (shown here). It is Shibui Pebble and Birch, held double. The fabric has the most coziest feel!! I am in love with Elizabeth Doherty’s patterns! Not only are they fun and interesting to knit from start to finish, they fit just perfectly. Her designs make you feel like a million bucks when you put them on!   I’m hoping to add more of her sweaters to my wardrobe.

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Hedgehog Fibres has caught my attention these days too. I’m in love with their colors!! I cannot resist! I have been knitting cute little ankle socks (Rose City Rollers, shown below) out of Sock Mini skeins. Quick and satisfying! I also have a collection of sock skeins at home to knit Andrea Mowry’s So Faded pullover. In case anyone hasn’t noticed… I love Andrea Mowry!! I have knit several of her patterns. I love her style! I am a huge fan of Caitlin Hunter too. Her pattern called Marettimo has caught my eye recently.

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Oh Spincycle how I love you!! I can’t stop knitting with this yarn! I have now knit 3 projects with Dyed in the Wool. Andrea Mowry’s Harlow hat and Shift cowl have been my most recent. Its such a unique beautiful yarn. The self striping colors just grab me. I will definitely be knitting more things with it in the near future. I’m thinking a fair isle yoked pullover for winter perhaps. So many great yarns. I can go on and on!

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We love taking peeks into people’s knitting & notion bags!  What’s in your notion bag?

A tin full of markers! I have a lot of Cocoknits accessories (love their Maker’s Keep!). Darning Needles, pom pom maker (I LOVE making pom poms!) crochet hook, cute scissors, waste yarn (for provisional cast on or holding stitches), & pens.

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You’ve taught countless workshops and classes at the shop, do you have any favorites?

I really enjoy teaching just about anything. My absolute favorite thing is Fair Isle. I love working with color and showing others how EASY it really is! Watching my students eyes light up when they finally get the hang of it is the best feeling. Fair Isle makes you feel like a genius.  I’m excited to be teaching the Gretta Fair Isle hat class in January.

Also, I am having fun teaching brioche these days – it’s a little more of a challenge but I love a challenge! It such a fun & beautiful stitch. It’s has been so popular I see it more and more on Ravelry and Instagram these days.

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Congratulations on your new adventure into motherhood.  We are all so overjoyed that little Reid is here.  He probably holds lead for the largest handmade wardrobe!  We just love his little knitted Baby Smiles hat you knit for him.  So precious!

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I just want to say a really big THANK YOU to everyone!! You have all shown me so much love and support. All the well wishes and wonderful gifts I have been given for little Reid really mean a lot to me and my little family.  I’m so lucky to have so many amazing knitting friends!  All is well and I have adjusted comfortably to being back at the shop full-time again.  It feels so inspiring to be back!

 

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Meet Jenn

We thought it would be so fun and inspiring to get to know some members who make up our Monarch team.  Jenn has been with Monarch shortly after its reopening in 2013 where she gradually moved on to behind the scene tasks.  She handles our social media,  assists with our webshop and helps curate our monthly newsletters.  Last Fall she and her husband moved to Seattle and we were so glad to keep her on remotely!  We’re excited to have her back in the shop working while our dear Koryn takes care of new baby Reid. 

Tell us a bit about how you got started with fiber arts?

I’ve always dabbled in some type of artistic medium throughout my life. Photography, ceramics, oil pastels, paper making – you name it, I was either taking a course in the subject or president of its club.  It wasn’t until I was gifted a sewing machine that I fell in love with textile arts!

When I moved to Monterey back in 2008, I was really into sewing garments and accessories.  After creating a local crafting group to find other sewists, I started to meet crafters, many of them being crocheters and knitters as well.  Around the same time, I attended an event where they had free knitting lessons. After wrestling with what looked like a clown wig, I decided knitting wasn’t for me.  A couple of the gals from my group handed me a hook, and off I went to crochet everything you could possibly imagine (crocheted cat toys, anyone?). Of course I naturally became obsessed with yarn and anything to do it.  This led me to give knitting another try as I just loved the look of a knitted fabric better, and with more and more online tutorials popping up, I was able to teach myself the basics. It’s been about ten years and we won’t talk about my knitting pattern stash…

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Besides all things knitting and yarn, what are some of your other hobbies or passions?

Does trying out every coffee spot count as a hobby?  You’ll find me doing that while listening to podcasts or audio books.  I also love going to baseball games, attending the theater, and I’m currently obsessed with gaining experiences – cooking classes, kayaking, hiking, wine tours, motorbikes…anything that will fill a scrapbook.  Oh and I love planning trips, especially if they involve knitting!  Rhinebeck 2019, anyone?

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Current WIPs, FOs, and/or favorite patterns?

I was recently selected to sample Woolfolk’s newest yarn base, Flette which I have been swatching and I cannot put my needles down!  It’s so incredibly soft and I am loving the texture. This has taken precedence over my current project, the Clio pullover by Elizabeth Doherty.  But I do hope to get back to knitting it because I would love to have it finished for this Fall. I jokingly say that I’ll have it done by Rhinebeck 2019, ha!

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Also, I loved knitting the Lucerne hat by Jared Flood.  Such a fun little knit that is totally addicting!  Especially with Brooklyn Tweed’s Peerie yarn!  Definitely this year’s Christmas knitting…

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When Jana sent me her staff favorite for August, I immediately sent her all of the heart emojis and added it to my queue.  The Esko Kimono by Jane Veitenheimer is definitely something I would love to have in my wardrobe!

Favorite thing to listen to/do while yo knit or work from home…

I usually have either a podcast like Pomcast or Woolful playing or a variety of music streaming while I work.  I go through phases and most recently I’ve been playing a lot of classical genre.  As for while I’m knitting, I generally have a show on (current favorite is Succession on HBO and I’m also slowly going through Outlander), baseball (go Red Sox!!!) or YouTube.

What are some of your favorite memories of working at the shop?  Are you excited to be back for a bit?

There are far too many favorite memories to count!  Monarch’s first anniversary is definitely at the top of the list – the overwhelming support from the community was so heart warming!  I’d like to add that I am so grateful to still be apart of the Monarch team.  So of course I am so excited to be able to help Ann and Koryn at the shop.  I’ve missed my buddy Linus, the lovely ladies at the Tuesday morning knitting circle, being able to help clients and most importantly, my talented and wonderful teammates!

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We know you’re mainly behind the lens here at shop, but can our readers find you elsewhere?

I used to have an active blog and be quite social on Ravelry, but I have since moved on to occasionally posting on Instagram, @heartsy.

Welcome Britt-Marie

Whenever Britt-Marie Brehmer calls us to schedule a visit to show off new yarns, we jump at the chance.  Representing various brands within the fiber industry, Britt-Marie’s expertise and love of textiles helps us to select some great new yarns for the shop.  Much like her aesthetic, she brings a classic yet fresh approach.  We especially love it when she shares current yarns and samples from Shibui Knits!  Along with that, she hosts Shibui Mix parties and has worked besides Sandy Barnes of Shibui in our Stitches West booth.
It’s always so much fun having her in the shop!  We’ve been so fortunate to get to know her over the past couple of years as a yarn rep, and to now call her a dear friend.

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Tell us a little about how you got started with fiber arts and becoming a yarn rep?

I can remember my first knitting experience as a 3rd grader in Sweden, growing up with fibers in every corner, but not until now do I realize what a gift this was. I never thought I would be in sales, but I have realized that I’m not really selling, I’m sharing my love of yarn and all that comes with it. The people, the fibers, the knitting and all that other fun it brings.

What’s a day in the life look like for a yarn rep?

Well, I wake up and the first thing (even before coffee) I think about is…what do I knit today??? I knit a lot of samples to better understand the yarns I’m representing, so a lot of time is spent on picking projects for specific yarns. This is also happening when I’m not on the road visiting my stores. I’m so fortunate to be in this business, I really enjoy being with people that share my loved of fibers!

We just love your aesthetic!  What influences your effortlessly chic and sophisticated style?

I believe in “less is more”, even in knitting I apply this to my work. There is so many beautiful yarns available today, and I want the design and the fiber to be happily married.

Knit, crochet or both?  What’s your favorite thing to do while knitting/crocheting?

I have to say knitting, and I love doing this while watching my favorite show on Netflix, having morning coffee with my husband on the patio, or just hanging out with my family. I also need to say that I have not missed one episode of Espace Tricot and Kammebornia podcasts.

What are some of your other passions and/or hobbies?

I love cooking for family and friends, baking bread, and gardening. I have also lately enjoyed taking upholstery classes. One of these days you will see me with chickens, goats and a little barn somewhere in the wine country.

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We’re always looking for pattern inspiration, what’s currently on your needles or in your queue?

I will very soon be casting on for Calyx by Elizabeth Doherty using Reed+Twig together, and in my queue I have Thea Colman’s Stillhouse Vest. I’m also planning to make another Cirrus by Nancy O’Connell in Pebble+Cima, it’s such a great piece!!!

What’s in your notion’s bag?  Or what’s your favorite way to carry your projects/notions?

Right now my favorite project bag is from Blue Bee Studio. It’s super cute and handy.

 

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It’s always so fun having you in the shop for Shibui Mix parties.  What are some of your favorite Shibui mixes and patterns?

I’m a big fan of Pebble mixed with Cima, Silk Cloud or Lunar. Twig is also one I really like, the drape of this yarn is fabulous. I love them all, so it’s hard to pick favorites.

Now for a bit of fun…

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Britt-Marie, thank you so much for being a guest on our blog!  We look forward to hosting you in the shop this month.  

*Dear reader, if you’d like to join Britt-Marie at the shop, we will be hosting her on Saturday, May 19th.  We hope to see you there!*

Meet Ann

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…

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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New tote bags that I am super excited to share!

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…

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Thank you so much for indulging us, Ann!  Happy shop anniversary!  We look forward to your future blog posts, new shop events, and more! 

Knit, blog, and be happy.

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We are pleased to welcome you to our new blog!  We love sharing about our happenings through our Facebook and Instagram feeds as well as our monthly newsletters, and now this platform is a way for us to delve into so much more!  Here you’ll soon find inspirational stories, interviews with some of our friends, product reviews, mini tutorials, current staff favorite features, and special behind the scenes at Monarch posts!

Thank you for following along and supporting Monarch Knitting.  This is an exciting endeavor for us and we couldn’t be happier to share it with all of you!