‘I get to play with yarn all day’

COVID-19 stalls Yarn Underground hosted events; shop provides sense of community to crafters

Yarn+Underground+started+after+Owner+Shelley+Stone+gained+inspiration+from+a+Portland+yarn+store.+Now%2C+Stone+said+she+is+navigating+COVID-19+and+the+unknowns+that+come+with+it.

COURTESY OF SHELLEY STONE

Yarn Underground started after Owner Shelley Stone gained inspiration from a Portland yarn store. Now, Stone said she is navigating COVID-19 and the unknowns that come with it.

SARAH DANIELS, Evergreen reporter

COVID-19 hit some small businesses harder than others. For Yarn Underground Owner Shelley Stone, she is ready to move forward with her community.

In the heart of Moscow lies a yarn store: Yarn Underground. Inspired by her visit to a Portland yarn store, Stone and her friend worked together to make a mutual dream come true, Stone said. 

This November marks 10 years of Yarn Underground, she said.

“We figured we could sit around yarn all day and not make money as easily as we could sit home and make no money,” Stone said. 

It surprised her when people started coming in, not only to buy her yarn but to build a community centered around this yarn store, she said.

“I was like, ‘Yay! I get to play with yarn all day!’… Lo and behold, people come in – and you make relationships with them,” Stone said. “I always felt like ‘This town doesn’t need me,’ and just a little disconnected. Now I feel very connected to the community and people. I really appreciate that.”

Customer Jen Hieber said after a long day of work, she would visit Yarn Underground just to be surrounded by yarn and be with Stone.

“[Shelley] really puts her heart and soul into the yarn she dyes, the yarn she sells, her shop and her customers,” Hieber said. “You can really tell that she’s passionate about everything she does there. She’s created this really special store that we’re so lucky to have in Moscow.”

Yarn Underground is near the Moscow Food Co-op. Stone sells anything people need for knitting, crocheting, felting, yarn-winding and more.

Some events that occur at the shop include Free Help Fridays. This is where someone is hired to help knitters and yarn-crafters understand a pattern, get through a rough patch or even pick up a stitch.

Another event, which is called the Thursday Knitting Circle, strengthens and builds the community within the Moscow and Pullman community, which Stone cherishes, she said.

“To people who don’t knit, they’re like ‘Yeah it’s a yarn store,’ but to people who do knit it’s a source of community,” Stone said.

Since COVID-19, she has not been able to host either of these events in her store. Stone said she is also not sure when – or if – she will be able to begin them again.

Yarn crafting is entirely hands-on, so finding a way to work with tools and yarn other people touch, on top of being in close proximity to someone else, is a challenge Stone is not sure how to overcome, she said.

“I’m still only one person so I can only do so many things,” she said. “COVID has put a creative train wreck on business as usual.”

Stone said people are starting to come back to the store and are looking for solutions for her Free Help Fridays and Thursday Knitting Circle. 

“I’m willing to pivot and try something different and do it in a new way,” she said. “I’m humble about that, and I can work hard in a different direction.”

In addition to Yarn Underground, Stone also dyes yarn for her company, Palouse Yarn Company. Her yarn is featured in her store and is an outcome of COVID-19, she said.

“Going forward, this is an obvious personality we have now – we’re our own hand dyer!” Stone said. “I just don’t march to anyone else’s beat, I never have. So, it’s good that [now] we have our own unique thing.”

Hiebert knits yarn samples for the store and loves using Stone’s hand-dyed yarn the most. 

“It’s really hard to explain,” she said. “It’s just beautiful.”

While the process was not relaxing or easy, Yarn Underground is open again, and Stone said she is hopeful to see more people in her store.

“I want people to come learn and start this new hobby, and not be scared to come in,” Stone said. “I have all sorts of tools for all sorts of craft and people should want to come in; you just don’t get this at Joann’s.”