Last November I was in search of merino roving so the kids and I (well, mostly I) could make felted soap for people for Christmas gifts (to see felted soap and other cool felted stuff check out one of my favourite etsy shops). It was a Sunday and my husband was working. I had a bee in my bonnet; I wanted to get the roving and get started making the felted soap because I knew it would take me a while to get all I wanted to do done. I knew where I wanted to go to buy the roving – I’d heard of the store when they’d made a donation to a fundraiser for my son’s nursery school – but I’d never been to the store before.
I have four young children; at the time they were 6, 4, 2 and 1. Now, I never quite know how things are going to go when I go shopping with the kids, especially when I’m going to a store that I’ve never been to before. Things going through my mind were: What kind of mood is everybody in? Who will fall asleep on the way there? Will the store be stroller friendly? What kind of looks am I going to get when I walk in the door? Dread? Disgust? Or will they be welcoming of my brood? How long will it be before the kids start going stir crazy?
The thing is this: I like taking the kids with me to go shopping or do errands. Yes of course, there are times that I like some time to myself; and no it’s not always easy; and yes sometimes things completely fall apart, but I like the idea of involving them in everyday things. Much like Alexandra and her guest post Creating a World of Inclusion for Children I too want places to be open and welcoming of children.
So I decide that I’m going to go for it. I’m going to take the kids with me to shop for roving. Off we go. When we got there the baby was sleeping but everyone else was awake. I popped her into my BabyHawk where she stayed sleeping and with the rest of us holding hands, we made our way to the shop.
I’m literally holding my breath as we walk up to the store. I see a nice sized store; it’s open with a group of nice comfy chairs in the middle. I didn’t need the stroller (since none of the bigger kids were sleeping) but there would have been plenty of room for it if I’d had it with me. The walls are lined with all things to do with knitting: yarn, needles, books, roving and more. Near the back there is an area that houses the cash register and a coffee and goodies counter. So far so good. I love the look of this place. We walk in; I’m still holding my breath, wondering what they’ll make of us.
We are immediately welcomed by the staff. They tell my kids to help themselves to a basket of toys near the wall. My two middle kids head straight for the basket, my oldest flops down on one of the comfy chairs, the baby is cozy and sleeping with me and I start browsing. Things couldn’t have been better.
I bought some roving (the kids helped me pick the colours) and we were getting ready to leave. Near the door, a woman was sitting winding yarn into cakes with a yarn swift and ball winder much like this one.
The kids thought it was neat. The woman noticed their interest and immediately asked the kids if they wanted to help. The three older kids all had a turn. The woman was so patient and kind with the kids; explaining what they were doing and why. It was really nice. We stayed for another minute or two then went on our way, with a really great feeling. As we walked away, I saw the woman unwind the ball a few times; the kids had been so enthusiastic they had spun the handle a bit too fast, and I think one of them had turned the handle the wrong way at the end. It wasn’t a big deal, the woman unwound it a couple of times and then continued winding the ball. I could have kissed her.
This is the kind of experience I’m always hoping for when I go into a store. I know it isn’t always possible or practical, but that day it was. Experiences like this are so few and far between that they really stick in my mind.
A few weeks later I needed a little more roving and so I went back to the store with my mum and two of my kids. I talked to one of the owners that day; she remembered me from our last visit. I told how much I appreciated that the store was family friendly.
I’d love to knit and felt more often but I don’t really have the time, but when I do need knitting or felting supplies there is only one place I’ll go. I know you’re all dying to know the store, aren’t you? Of course I’ll tell you. I want everyone to know. THE place for knitting/crocheting/felting supplies in Toronto is The Purple Purl.
I’d always meant to send them a quick email to thank them and tell them how much I love their store but I never got around to it. So here’s a blog post instead. Thank you Purple Purl for welcoming all people, even small ones.