When Jamie Kyser and Erin Klaus, business partners and friends, moved Tangled Up In Hue from 416 Barstow (the current Blue Boxer Arts location) to 505 Barstow, they had an empty store space that was still under a lease. While considering their options, it occurred to Kyser that she and Klaus had always talked about opening a bead store in Eau Claire. Ever since the one on Water Street closed, they had felt that Eau Claire needed one. And in addition, Yellow Dog Knitting used to be located a couple of doors down, and when that closed, lots of people came into Tangled Up in Hue’s former location asking what happened to the yarn shop, so they knew there was a market for it. And if that wasn’t enough, they had an immense amount of beads from jewelry making, so it seemed like an opportunity to give the idea a shot. So, they opened a bead and yarn shop—Blue Boxer Arts!
Blue Boxer Arts follows the same format as Tangled in that they support and offer local products. They have a whole section of the store devoted to local fibers, hand-spun and dyed yarn from local farms where the sheep are raised and sheered, and the wool is processed and spun into yarn. They also have roving, locks, and loose fibers. (Roving is a long narrow bundle of fiber that is mainly used for spinning fibers into yarn. It’s been processed and dyed or can be natural colored. It can also be used in weaving or needle felting. Locks are actual hair locks from, say, an angora goat or llama, and loose fibers are just that—they have been processed from the animal and can be found in a bag or ball.) In addition, the store carries Plymouth-brand yarns and various others, and they currently offer a large selection of “natural” beads: wood, clay, porcelain, bone, nut, etc., but are expanding to also incorporate stone, glass, crystal, pearl, and more. The store also operates as a collective, meaning they have items on consignment as well.
A wide range of classes are available, about two a week. All of them are currently focused on the fiber and jewelry arts, as that is the type of product currently offered in the store. All classes can be found on the website (http://blueboxerarts.com/events.html) or the Facebook page, which has the most up-to-date info. The instructors range from store staff to outside experts and hobbyists, but anyone can come in and apply to teach a class here. If someone has a special skill they would like to share in a class, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
With the holidays coming up, we all tend to brace ourselves for the accompanying stresses. Knitting or crocheting, however, can be a stress-relieving activity. Kyser believes all forms of creativity can be calming experiences: “I personally crochet (I have knit but am not an avid knitter) and participate in many forms of fiber arts and other crafty avenues. Each of these activities helps to sooth my soul and bring me balance and peace. It’s a way for many to reset from the day or take out frustrations. It makes me feel fulfilled and whole.” If you’re new to knitting and crocheting, don’t fret! As a beginner, and as with learning any new skill, knitting/crocheting can be a chore and may even be frustrating at first. But once the basics are learned and the rhythm is found, the fun starts, and it becomes a new way to cope with stress.
According to Kyser, knitting and crocheting can be more than just stress relieving: “I believe, too, that knitting/crocheting can lead to a meditative state. In meditation, the goal is to clear your head of all thoughts and brain chatter. In the act of knitting, and the repetitive nature of it, it can certainly lead to this. In some cases, when following a pattern for instance, you need to count your stitches, switch colors, or change stitches (knit, pearl, etc), and this can require more concentration and thought, and it can also be good to concentrate on something other than work and other stresses of life.”
She advises: “The concentration involved with these art forms as well as just keeping your hands busy and the satisfaction of completing a project can all be so good for the soul and help with stress during the holidays and year-round. This time of year it can help you check the gift-giving portion of stress off your list, knowing that you are making something for someone that took time and love and effort.”
The benefit of shopping locally is important to both Kyser and Klaus. Kyser notes: “With each step, knitting and crocheting with our products can give you the satisfaction and joy of shopping locally, which is so important in our current climate. The community thrives when local businesses do well. Because we offer products and services that are locally made/produced, a portion of the money spent in our store goes back into the community, which fuels the local economy, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”