Halcyon Yarn: We support fiber artists because we are fiber artists!
Knowledgeable staff, dependable service, quality fiber arts supplies: We're a family-owned, maker-friendly business and we love our customers!
Halcyon Yarn is a second-generation family-run business, owned by partners Gretchen Jaeger and Rachel Fowler. Gretchen's mother, Halcyon Blake, is Halcyon Yarn's founder. When Halcyon decided to step back from full-time, after 40 years of leadership, Gretchen and Rachel were thrilled to lead Halcyon Yarn toward it's second half century. Though Gretchen and Rachel had each spent years persuing other passions, they were drawn to the traditions, community and artistic inspirations that are so strong at Halcyon Yarn. Also, as you'll see, Gretchen's connection to the business stretches back to her childhood.
Halcyon had gone to business school in California, but she wanted to make a life around something more creative and down to earth. With inspiration from living in San Francisco, and in partnership with husband Hector, the shop came to life in downtown Denver in 1971. Halcyon, Husband Hector, and Gretchen, lived in an apartment above the store.
Halcyon had learned to weave from her mother, and she taught Hector. Pretty soon after they had opened the shop they were teaching others in the shop's basement classroom.
They set up looms wherever they could, and Hector's dye vats were in the tiny back yard. Not only was there lots of weaving and dyeing but also sewing, knitting, felting, wood working... not to mention cooking! These days they'd be called "makers"; it was exciting to have the family business of “making” be a way of life!
Hector’s love of color drew him to dyeing almost immediately. They started buying up remnant yarn lots to overdye into custom colors for the store. These early yarns were a hit. They began getting bigger batches of custom yarns to dye in more consistent colors - those early yarns are now our “Signature” collection and many of the lines and colors are still in production.
After 10 great years in Denver, Halcyon Yarn outgrew the location of the first shop. Now that building is long gone - replaced by the Denver Convention Center! Halcyon and Hector decided to move to the East Coast to be closer to his family and the ocean.
For their new headquarters and home they found an old warehouse building, formerly a garment factory for the Besse Company, in the small coastal city of Bath, Maine. Even though all their records were kept on paper, and they hand-wrote ledger sheets... They were up and running only two weeks after leaving Denver!
To keep in touch with customers back in Colorado, and to reach new customers around the world, Halcyon Yarn created something uniquely suited to needs of fiber artists: the Yarn Store in a Box. This collection of yarn samples is a way to see the colors and feel the hand of hundreds of yarns and fibers. This sample cards bring the yarn store to you. During that first year in Maine Halcyon Yarn signed up for the new “800” telephone service which allowed customers to call toll-free. It's easy to see that Gretchen was ready to tell people about this great design tool from the get-go and still is!
Integrating passions with daily life has been part of Halcyon Yarn since it's founding. Both Halcyon and Hector worked full time in the store and brought Gretchen to work with them. One of Halcyon's ideas for the business was to make sure people working here had that same flexibility. Since 1971, not only was the store part of Gretchen's day-to-day growing up, but also to numrous employees and their families over the years. More than 6 kids at last count!
One such example allowed us to recreate the original Yarn Store In A Box ad, with our tech person's daughter, in 2011. The rotary phone was replaced with an iPhone, but no matter how things change, the good stuff (like yarn, and sincere customer service) never go out of style!
Halcyon yarn doesn't dye the yarns out back anymore, but we still put a lot of care into where they come from. They’re actually dyed in traditional New England dye houses, and some are spun close by as well. We have the honour of working with family-run dye houses and spinning mills, some that are fourth and fifth generation family businesses! Even after 50 years we’re still the new kids and glad to be learning from such talented and dedicated colleagues.
Halcyon Yarn is more than just a yarn store - it is a connection to family and community. It is a calling to slow down and do something useful and tangible in a world that sometimes seems too fast.
So many goods are treated as though they are disposable. We want to support people making with their hands, creating things with purpose. We hope that the things our customers make will become the artifacts of a rich life. We hope that the story of how they come to be will be as much a part of them as the way they look or what they do. If we’re lucky both the things we make and the stories that they remind us of will live beyond us. They'll live in the hands of others as they practice their craft and as they appreciate the history of how they, and the things they make, came to be.
Halcyon is still rolling up her sleeves to help with a tricky weaving question or to warp up a new project design. We're still learning from her - both the crafts and the business! We’ve learned a lot from each other about what it means to pass something along and what it means to value the work and skill that have come before.
When deciding whether to take over the business Gretchen and Rachel were inspired by Wendell Berry's words in The Gift of Good Land:
“...take care never to use the word 'economy' to mean only 'money economy'. We must use it to mean also - as the origin of the word instructs - the order of households. And we must therefore judge economic health by the health of households, both human and natural.”
In addition to offering the best products available anywhere we believe that a business should always be much more than just, well... business! It can be a vehicle for creativity and positive social change. Our commitment to operating with a sense of social responsibility is essential to who we are and, we believe, also of great value to our customers and our communities. We understand that in operating and growing our business there are more than just the typical "bottom lines" which is why we value the following priorities in our operation:
* Support for artists and educators & the growth of art and handcrafts everywhere.
* Care for the environment.
* Local & global community involvement.
* Personal and professional integrity, quality & creativity.
* Innovative and enduring products and services.
* Educational opportunities for artists and all our staff.
* Valuing our staff (good wages, health insurance, a respectful & fulfilling work environment, educational assistance, profit sharing incentives, and help with retirement & financial planning)
In our fiber-arts community, connections are especially important. The work of passing on the joy and passion, along with the knowledge and skills, of how to make things, is itself part of what we love about fiber-arts. We at Halcyon Yarn feel honored to be a part of the fiber arts community and we want to keep sharing our enthusiasm, expertise, and love of the fiber arts for generations to come!