A former postal service worker has opened a new business that combines her passion for knitting with her husband’s talent for crafting cocktails.
Skein and Tipple, which opened in Clinton this past week, is a yarn boutique by day and – in a few weeks – will be a cocktail bar by night.
Marsha Clark, who runs the yarn end of things, was in search of a less stressful occupation. When she worked at the Langley Post Office, her work week during the holiday season could be as long as 96 hours.
Clark taught herself to knit from reading books in 2004, which was during the pre-YouTube days. Today, she can’t sit in front of the TV without knitting something.
The recent closure of a beloved yarn staple in Langley made her realize she could finally live out her dream of starting her own business selling fibers and knitted items.
“I never would have opened and I never would have even thought about it if Knitty Purls didn’t close, because that was the yarn shop,” she said.
Clark goes the extra mile by dyeing her skeins of yarn, which creates endless possibilities for colors.
“Hand-dyed is unique,” she said. “It’s one-of-a-kind. You can’t duplicate it, even if you tried.”
To bulk up her inventory, she spent about two months hand-dyeing 750 skeins in a large boiling tank outside her home, at the mercy of the blustery Pacific Northwest weather. She dyed a variety of fibers, from wool to alpaca to silk to cashmere.
A skein, once unspooled, can average from 200 to 450 yards of material, depending on the type.
“Hand-dyed yarn is pretty much the rage right now,” she said, adding that knitters prefer, more and more, to buy from small businesses rather than huge companies where the dyeing process is done by machine. The brand name for her hand-dyed yarn is called Salt and Color.
Her 200-square-foot store space offers anything needed to get started on a project, such as the yarn, needles or patterns. Though space is limited, she is hoping to bring in an instructor to teach knitting classes someday.
There are also finished knitted projects for sale that Clark made herself, such as sweaters, hats, slippers and more.
“Everything in here I made before I knew I was even gonna have a yarn store,” she said.
Her newest creation is a drink cozy titled “the Ugly Sweater.” Made in different holiday-themed patterns, it fits around a drinking glass. A ticket tucked inside the glass can be brought back for a free drink when the tipple half of the business is open. Clark’s husband, Matt Owen, will be the bartender.
“He’s always made really good cocktails. It’s been a thing for him,” Clark said.
The couple is currently in the process of remodeling the back room of the business, where there will be a bar, some tables and a stage for live entertainment.
Drinks will include local elements as much as possible, such as spruce tip pine syrup.
“Cocktail culture is so popular right now that it’s everywhere,” Clark said.
A small selection of foods, such as charcuterie boards and soups, may also be available in the future.
Clark and Owen plan to open the ages 21 and up nightclub as early as January. To avoid mixing alcohol with delicate fibers, it will not be open during the same hours of operation as the yarn store.
Currently, Skein and Tipple is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until Dec. 23. After Christmas, Clark said she would like to be closed Sundays and Mondays. When ready for business, the cocktail bar will likely be open at 6 p.m. and close as late as midnight or 1 a.m.
“It’s stress, but it’s good stress,” Clark said of the late hours, which she is more than used to working from her past jobs.