Six years ago Debra Folger didn’t know a slip stitch from a purl. Now she’s owner of Richland’s newest yarn shop, Badger Mountain Yarns and an expert on all things relating to spun threads.
It was a request from her daughter, Holley, that spurred Folger into picking up a pair of knitting needles.
“She asked for knitting lessons for her Christmas present,” Folger said. “How can you say no to something like that?”
Even though Folger was clueless about knitting, she bought some yarn, a couple of knitting needles and searched the internet until she found some instructional videos on YouTube.
Folger said that as a child she had learned to crochet and would create long crochet chains while riding the school bus.
“But I’d never even seen anyone holding a pair of knitting needles except on television,” Folger said. “It took a while but I learned some basic stitches, and then another and then another.”
Folger taught her daughter how to knit and to follow a pattern.
“She lost interest after about a year, but I was hooked,” Folger said.
At that time there were only a handful of places to buy premium yarn in the Tri-Cities, one was Sheep’s Clothing in Kennewick. She became friends with the owner, Marcia MacDonald, who persuaded Folger to join her staff. Folger worked there for about five years. When MacDonald decided to retire and sell the store, Folger resigned the job and decided to open a yarn store of her own.
“I’d thought about it long and hard and just felt it was what the Lord wanted me to do,” Folger said.
Another longtime employee of Sheep’s Clothing bought the business, which is still open in Kennewick, but has relocated.
“I wish the new owner all the best, there’s plenty of business for both of us. This way if I don’t have something or a color someone wants I can send them over there and vice versa,” Folger said.
Folger opened Badger Mountain Yarns on Dec. 10 at 114 Keene Road, Richland, adjacent to Albertsons.
Leasing space in the new building was an advantage Folger hadn’t counted on when planning her yarn shop, which occupies 1,966-sq.-ft.
“I love it here. Because it was new I was able to design my own space,” Folger said.
The store has floor-to-ceiling windows on the south side, which lights up the colorful inventory.
“Yarn is much like diamonds — you can only see the true colors in natural light,” she said.
Folger carries hundreds of yarns in a rainbow of hues. Many are natural fibers from sheep, alpaca, llama, yak and camel, in addition to cashmere, mohair, silk, linen, bamboo fibers and blends. They can be used for knitting, crochet, needle-punch and fiber projects.
Much of the alpaca wool comes from local ranches — Sagebrush Alpacas, Paca Poo Alpacas and Natural Maximum Alpacas, which are all in Prosser, and Yakima River Alpacas in West Richland.
“Not only am I friends with the people who own the alpacas, but I’ve met the animals and been kissed by baby alpacas too,” she said.
Folger has also become friends with the owners of Imperial Stock Ranch in Maupin, Ore., and Smak Super Fibers, which is owned by three Tri-Cities’ women.
The owners of Smak create custom colors and fiber blends. Several of the yarns carried by Badger Mountain Yarns were the brainchild of Folger and/or her daughter.
“You won’t find them anywhere else, they’re exclusive to our shop,” said Folger.
Badger Mountain Yarns is more than just a store. Knitters and other fiber artists are welcome to drop in, seek advice and browse the selection of yarns available. A large worktable sits in the middle of the shop, and there are a couple of other work areas available. Folger has added a sofa and love seat too.
Badger Mountain Yarns is at 114 Keene Road in Richland. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday. Phone is 509-579-0090. The website is www.badgermountainyarns.com and you can find them on Facebook.
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