Don't refer to The Twisted Skein as "not your grandmother's yarn shop." The new business is just as much for her as it is for any knitter or crocheter who wants to take fiber arts to the next level. Still, the store is decidedly not like Michael's or Hobby Lobby.
The Twisted Skein, which officially opens on Friday, is a place to find unique, hand-dyed and local yarns to turn a sweater, sock, scarf or anything else one might make into a work of art. The store is owned by siblings Ron Warren, 37, and Heidi Haarsager, 45, and they know the pun everyone's about to make.
"I hate to use this phrase," Warren hedged, "but we are a tightly knit family."
The two are also involved in the family business, Warren Ag Service. Because of that agriculture background, they like to know the background of the yarns they sell.
"I like having the ability to tell the story of where yarn comes from," Warren said. "You don't just find a loose thread on a sheep and pull until yarn comes out."
The store sells all kinds of yarns that wouldn't be found in a big-box craft store, focusing on natural yarns, many of them local and hand-dyed, in all weights from cobweb to super bulky. One of the lines sold there is ThreadBear Dyeworks, which is yarn hand-dyed by Warren himself. Another is Anzula, a company out of Fresno.
"This is a different class of yarn," Haarsager said. "There's nowhere else to get these but here."
The store also sells lots of vegetable yarns (like hemp, cotton and linen), which are lighter and allow local fiber artists to make creations they can enjoy even in Bakersfield's warm weather. Also in stock is yarn in a range of colors resembling neutral skin tones for those who make "knitted knockers," prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies, which several groups in town make.
The opening of The Twisted Skein is about a year in the making. Warren and Haarsager were inspired to open a yarn store after going to a knitting convention about this time last year. There, they met "yarn people," who encouraged and supported the idea to open a yarn store in Bakersfield.
"It took us from something we would joke about, 'We should just open a yarn shop!'" Warren said, "... to 'We're opening a yarn shop!'"
But The Twisted Skein is more than just a yarn shop. It will also be a space for classes, knit-alongs and other activities. Beyond the front room where the products hang is a class space to the left and a lounge to the right.
The lounge is "where you can sit and knit, or drop your husband off (while you shop)," Warren said.
Although the store hasn't officially opened yet, it already has its fans. Many of those in the knitting and crocheting community already know it's here, and a few have been able to check it out during its soft opening. Members of the What the Knit! Guild have been especially supportive.
"Their enthusiasm has been instrumental," Warren said.
The two have already heard some feedback from people who have stopped by in the last couple of weeks. Many expressed gratitude that The Twisted Skein wasn't a snooty or judgmental yarn shop. That assessment meant a lot to Warren and Haarsager.
"We want to see what you're making," Warren said. "We want to see your ugly first scarf and applaud it."