Yarn on The Road: Shuswap, BC

As a child I spent many summers in Salmon Arm visiting family but very little image of the place was left. I recalled the hills, valley and creeks around the area, but not the town itself. I can’t tell you what a delightful surprise it was to visit as an adult! For one thing, it had been so long since visiting my aunt that I’d forgotten her connections to fiber arts. Quilts, including one with the family tree, cover her log walls, and in the basement, I almost gasped at the sight of a spinning wheel and loom – how could I have forgotten these?

After a restful night and a morning catching up we once again hit the road.  With a search for brunch underway, we found ourselves in Downtown Salmon Arm which, after the tourist resort towns of the Rockies, had a refreshing mix of locals, visitors and stores catering to both. As it turned out, Intwined Fiber Arts was easier to find than mid-week brunch. While shopping on an empty stomach should be avoided, I’m glad I did.

Intwined Fibre Arts

141C Hudson Ave NE, Salmon Arm, BC Canada
(778) 489-1090

Shop owner, Althea, has established a nice combination of local and ethical yarns displayed alongside fiber arts. In addition to the store samples knitters’ have come to expect, the shop integrates fiber arts into their displays. With a back ground in visual arts, I’m somewhat biased, but I wish more LYS did this. Opportunities for artists to display their works are hard to come by, fiber artists have the further challenge of the “craft” verses “art” debate. Too many of the traditional art spaces omit fiber arts from their definitions of “contemporary art” making it that much harder for fiber artists. Seeing spaces like Intwined Fibre Arts provide space for art display is refreshing. It costs shop owners little to nothing, and in addition to providing exposure for artists it opens up new streams of dialog for their visitors.

The featured artist Gwen Martinuk’s artworks were part of the Downtown Salmon Arm Art walk but dispersed throughout the store evidence of other works can be spotted. One such piece is a stunning octopus mask by Melissa Nasby which was part of Intwined’s Under The Sea window display from July.

The first yarn purchase of the trip was made here in the form of a skein of Colour Adventures merino light in Neptune.  In the meantime I’m enjoying periodically squishing and fondling the skein. Colour Adventures is based out of Sicamous, also in the Shuswap region of British Columbia, and has a range of strikingly vibrant and colourful yarns. Once the skein’s been wound and some swatching done, I’ll share more photos. I have the feeling there will be more Colour Adventures in JahDoily Knits’ future!

Day6-Salmon-Arm-Shuswap-PiAs we were in search of lunch, and I a stranger in Salmon Arm, Althea pointed me towards the Shuswap Pie Company. Oh boy, am I glad she did! The pie shop smells delicious and the savory pies are like nothing else. If you should find yourself in Salmon Arm stop by and try one. The vegetarian curry pie is with sweet potatoes and a nice mix of seasonal veg surrounded by the flakiest pastry imaginable!

Our bellies full, and yarn purchased we left Salmon Arm heading south. After five days of tight schedules, we opted not to set an itinerary for the reminder of the road-trip. Instead we leisurely drove, stopping off whenever something caught our eye.

In Armstrong, another town I recalled from childhood but had no image of, we stopped for a coffee. Armstrong is a small town, and while it does not have a yarn store, the thrift shop turned out to be a crafter’s gold mine. A good selection of quilting yarn, all nicely rolled and bundled, lots of crochet thread in various colours and an elegant display of multicoloured buttons. Most of the yarn was acrylic and in pastel tones but there was a healthy supply of knitting needles. Across the railway tracks than run down the historical town center and a block down from the thrift store is The Wild Oak Cafe. Their coffee is delicious and the shop also houses a small collection of local artisan goods – hand-made soaps, a poetry zine, buntings and sewn kerchiefs, even socks.

Both Salmon Arm and Armstrong deserved more time to explore, but we still had much ground to cover and I’d heard Vernon had a yarn store …

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