Cynthia’s Corner in Gainesville is one of our new destinations this year–our northernmost shop, expanding our range in a new direction. Owner, Cynthia Roth shares with us some of her thoughts as we get to know her better, and get to know her little shop better as well:
Yarn Crawl: How and when did you fall in love with yarn?
Cynthia: Starting off with the age thing, are we? All right, it was about 1952, when my aunt made wonderful hats and sweaters for my kewpie doll. The doll’s name was Richard, and his best hat was a red and white beanie. Apologies to Lea Lohstreter of the Dallas Handknitting Guild. Lea and I were high school friends, and she likes to tell people we’re 23. We were, once.
What is your craft of choice?
That depends on my mood and what I’m trying to do. I knit, crochet, sew, and embroider. If I want to relax, though, I knit.
How did your love of yarn grow into a business?
It all started with bears and armadillos. I was selling crocheted graduation bears and armadillos, hating the idea of not having a yarn shop nearby to get the materials I needed or the yarns I wanted for my own projects. The idea of my own shop was planted, but I needed capital to make it real. The bears and armadillos were joined by giraffes, elephants, pigs, hippos, snakes and others. I sold them at Denton Community Market, and put every dime I made into yarn. Now my husband and granddaughter run the booth at the market so I can have the shop open on weekends. The shop is small and growing. I’m grateful every day that everything in the place is paid for. Plus, having my own business is a fairly safe way to indulge in fiber fever.
How long have you been in business?
Just under a year. In that time I’ve faced health problems, bringing a shop in a “historic building” (1926) up to code and a reasonable comfort level, and getting the word out with no advertising budget. It’s been a challenge and a fabulous learning experience, and I’ve made so many new friends. I can hardly wait to see what’s next.
What is your shop specialty or focus?
My specialty is doing what Big Box and the Big Chains can’t do. That means I give special services and I stock yarns they never heard of. I do sell some basic acrylic yarns according to my customers’ preference, but I focus on yarns not available in the area. I prefer yarns that also do some good in the world. I have fair trade reclaimed sari silk, reclaimed linen, banana fiber, and soy. I’m acquiring local handspuns as well.
I also give personal attention to my customers. You want magenta and chartreuse yak wool? I’ll order it for you. Need a pattern search? Will do. Try that at your local chain store. You’re stuck on a project and need help? Come into my craft corral, get comfy in an antique armchair or at the old, scarred work table, and get assistance. If it’s a simple question, I won’t charge you. If you’ve turned your sweater into an entry for a yarn sculpture contest, and we’re in for a “fix-it lesson” or a long session, there’ll be a reasonable charge. If you want to bring a project and take a stitching break, come in, sit down, and visit. You’re home.
What not-to-be-missed things can we find in your shop?
I love everything in the place, but I could be biased. I won’t consider stocking a yarn if I don’t like it, unless several customers want that yarn. Right now I’m playing with some thick and thin handspun from Nepal, and I think I’m going to stock that. I have eclectic tastes, so there’s a little bit of this and that. More important, though, is the atmosphere. If you’re impatient with family businesses and like big places with chrome and glass, it’s not for you. If you’re fine with selecting your banana fiber from an antique picnic basket or your bamboo needles from canning jars, welcome! I like being in my shop, and I like visiting with the people who come in. I hope your yarn supplier in the metroplex takes time to inquire if your sister’s operation went well or your rosebush is out of its slump. If not, come to Gainesville and make some new friends.
What events or activities will be featured during the Yarn Crawl?
Here’s a list, tied to famous holidays:
October 3-National Denim Day-put on comfortable jeans, wear a big smile (It’s also World Smile Day) and come on to Gainesville.
October 4-International Frugal Fun Day: 10% off reclaimed silk or linen.
October 5-Do Something Nice Day: Free signed, limited edition art photograph with $25 purchase.
October 6-Mad Hatter Day: bring a hat pattern to exchange.
October 7-Bald and Free Day-make a hat with your new pattern and give it to a bald person.
October 8-ER Nurses’ Day: Make a spa washcloth for an ER nurse. I was one for many years (an ER nurse, not a washcloth), and nurses need pampering. With each purchase of craft cotton receive a Cynthia’s Music CD. Free washcloth patterns available.
October 8 is also the starting date for the GAVA juried art exhibit in Gainesville. More info available at the shop.
October 9-Fire Prevention Day-free bottled water for everyone. (Aren’t you glad I chose not to celebrate Moldy Cheese Day, which is on the same date?)
October 10- Angel Food Cake Day- come by for a slice of cake.
October 11- Take Your Teddy Bear to work Day. Bring a teddy bear pattern to exchange.
This is also Depot Day in Gainesville: stay all day for the downtown street festival with food, crafts, live entertainment, and a classic car show.
October 12-Moment of Frustration Scream Day: scream, for a moment, in the parking lot if you wish. Chocolate will be available for first aid.
We also will have spinning demonstrations from a local spinner, date to be announced when she’s back from vacation.
What classes or services do you provide year round?
Basic, intermediate, and advanced knitting, basic, intermediate and advanced crocheting, individual lessons by appointment. Also see question #5.
Any special driving directions?
I’m not hard to find, but some people have been led astray by their GPS. From I-35 North take exit 497/California Street. Turn right (east) at the end of the ramp. Proceed five blocks to Commerce Street (west side of courthouse). Turn left (north) and go one block to Elm. Cynthia’s Corner is ½ block left(west) at 205 W. Elm. Free parking on the street or in the lot at the west end of the building.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Yes! Allow enough time to enjoy Gainesville. I’ll have a list of places to eat other than the usual fast food, plus city maps and brochures. Gainesville has been named Most Patriotic Small Town in America and Best Small Town Getaway in Texas. It’s also the nation’s only Medal of Honor Host City. You can prowl the shops around the square and eat in a transplanted New Jersey sub shop or a restaurant in a historic saloon, or go to the zoo. Don’t want to go home yet? Plenty of motels, or get a room above the old saloon in the Shady Lady B&B—guess what that used to be! Folks, I was born in Dallas, and I understand why you like the Metroplex. Nevertheless, I love it here and I want to introduce you to this delightful town. No, it isn’t that far away. You think it is, because there’s some wide open spaces between us and the city. We like it that way. This time of year, the only gridlock you’ll face will be getting behind a slow moving combine. Don’t be like a friend who visited us. When I said, “See? It’s not the end of the world” he replied, “No, but you can see it from here”. Later, he and his wife retired to the country: Austin.
Thanks so much for sharing your heart and your shop, Cynthia! See you in Gainesville!