Grand Forks resident Lynn Relph always wanted to open her own business. After she retired, she did some research, got some help from Community Futures, and was able to pursue her dream in January when she opened up Lynden Tree Yarns.
The store was named after a linden tree, which Relph has in her yard. She changed the spelling to closer match her own first name. So far, business has gone very well for the store, which is located at #4 – 7375 Second St. right near the highway.
“I’ve been very pleased—there has been a lot of interest,” she said. “I’m surprised. I knew there were a lot of knitters in the area but I think there’s way more than I even anticipated. It’s been encouraging.”
She said the location of the store has also helped bring in tourists who see the sign from the road.
Relph started the business after retiring from being a registered nurse. “I’ve always wanted to try having a business. When Heather’s closed I really starting thinking about it. I went to Community Futures and got into their self-employment program. They were very helpful in helping me with my business plan and other things.”
Relph said she loves having her own business and being her own boss. “And I love knitting and yarn stuff so this is perfect for me,” she said.
Relph said that she knitted years ago when her kids were young but then stopped. She got back into it about nine years ago when she and her husband moved to Grand Forks.
“When we moved here we bought a six-hectare property and it already had a llama and a couple of sheep, and we bought some alpacas,” she said. “My neighbour said, ‘What are you going to do with all that lovely fibre?’ I said I didn’t know and she said, ‘Well, you better learn to spin.’”
Relph took a spinning course and bought a spinning wheel and began making yarn and knitting again.
“That’s how I got back into it,” she said.
Lynden Tree Yarns is truly a knitter’s paradise. Relph offers a variety of yarns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and several other accessories for knitting and crocheting. She also offers finished products such as hats, scarves, purses and more.
“As I go, I’m making more things to put on display to feature the yarns I have,” said Relph.
She said she doesn’t have a lot of patterns for sale at the store because there are so many available online and it’s hard to know what people will like.
“You can literally find thousands of patterns for free online,” she said. “When someone comes in and is looking, say, for a baby sweater pattern, I’ll go on one of those websites and look through it with them and print it off for a nominal fee. I can help them find the appropriate yarn in the store for them to make it.”
Relph also offers knitting courses in the store. She held her first beginner class last week and had seven people come out.
“We had lots of fun on Tuesday,” she said. “I’m going to run one in the evening because some people work during the day. Down the road I’m going to offer other classes such as sock knitting, making cables, beginner crocheting.”
The courses generally consist of three two-hour sessions spread out so people have a chance to “do their homework.”
Relph said that people can bring their own needles and yarn or purchase them in the store.
“I’m teaching the basics of how to knit and how to purl,” she said. “Some people know how to knit but may not know how to read a pattern or correct mistakes; that kind of thing. So I’ll go over all that.”
The store also offers drop-in knitting where people can come by and knit and chat as a group and maybe learn from each other.
“Knitting really seems to be coming back in vogue,” said Relph. “The yarns that are available now—it’s just mind boggling. It’s nothing like when I was a kid and my mom knitted. You’ve got all kinds of fibres and colours; it’s amazing.”
Relph said that knitting is a great hobby for people looking to be creative as well as reduce stress.
“There’s been studies that show that when you knit, your blood pressure actually goes down—it’s like petting a dog,” she said. “I think people are looking at something that’s tactile; it’s calming and relaxing; and you end up with a beautiful finished product.”
Information on the classes is available on the Lynden Tree Yarn Facebook site as well as a website called ravelry.com.