How Cathy and Josette ended up with a yarn store

How Cathy and Josette ended up with a yarn store

They couldn’t have made this up of they had to.


They’ve been friends since grade 5, had many ridiculous adventures together in high school, helped each other through intense university years and kept in touch while Josette backpacked through Europe and Catherine breezed through a master's degree. 


Josette made it back to Canada, fell in love (again) with the boy next door, and Catherine went stateside to skip through her PhD. While Josette developed her own brand of domestication living among her people in Blenheim ON, Catherine joined the academic ranks in New Orleans, Louisiana.


They kept their friendship alive the good old-fashioned way, through long hand-written letters and lively phone calls. Josette even offered to help Catherine move from Louisiana to Edmonton in 1996. That would have been an incredible trip had Josette not developed morning sickness the day she arrived in New Orleans to help Catherine pack up.


Sounds like a great friendship, right? Think again.


They were each harbouring a secret. A secret that would not come out until after Catherine moved out to Alberta, met the man of her dreams, moved to Quebec, got married and had two children and Josette had her fourth child. (Just trying to keep the story moving here.)


If you can believe it, they were both knitters.


Catherine had learned from her grandmother, on visits to her farm near Woodstock. She even took lessons while living in Edmonton -- something Josette knew nothing about until recently.


Josette had learned from her own mother. Her first project was a blanket knit from scraps from her mother’s stash. It was quite ugly, but impressed her dorm-mates at UWO. Catherine has never laid eyes on the blanket.


After settling in the hills north of Montreal, Catherine took to knitting hats and mittens, always throwing in an extra bit of mohair. She was drawn to chunky fibers and knitting books.


Josette took up knitting again when one of her children spent time at Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario. She created metres and metres of ribbed scarves with flowing fringes. She then decided to knit a sweater for each member of her family. Her husband and her eldest daughter have yet to receive a sweater from her, although she does have enough wool in her stash for a dozen sweaters each.


The cat got out of the bag soon after Catherine moved to Owen Sound, when Josette brought her gang up to The Farm for a visit. As usual, they laughed at how similar, yet how unalike, they are. Another dimension was added to an already solid friendship, a dimension that wrapped itself around the two women. They looked forward to showing off their latest projects. They exchanged emails about the latest fibers and knitting trends. Catherine continued her foray into crochet, and Josette became obsessed with sock knitting. They dreamed of knitting excursions and going to fiber festivals together.


After every visit together they’d sigh and say “I wish we lived closer.” All they really wanted to do was sit and knit together.


The day Catherine learned that Riverside Yarns was for sale, Josette was walking along the main street of Blenheim, musing about opening a yarn store there.


“Would be great,” she thought. “But I don’t want to be tied to retail.”


In her classroom, Catherine considered the email that Willow Todd had sent to her customers.


“Would be great,” she thought. “And the hours will be nothing compared to what I’m doing now.”


What at first seemed impossible -- because really, it’s more than a four hour commute from Blenheim to Owen Sound -- clicked a few days later when Josette realized the potential of the online store format. So the pair put their heads together and with the support and great ideas of their spouses and children, they’ve been able to pull this one off.


Catherine and Josette will continue to supply the local and online knitting community with all the tools they need to create and craft beautiful, funky and unique woolens. They will be staying with the ‘workhorse’ products, those lines that you turn to time and again for sweaters, afghans and baby blankets. They are also excited about bringing in new lines that will capture your imagination. Watch for shop updates, interesting blog posts and a fresh instagram stream.


We still want to just sit and knit, but we want you to join us in the adventure.













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