Welcome to Memory Yarns! My name is Aaron Schaefer, I do all the spinning and knitting here. With the website going up, I wanted to make two posts just explaining who I am and where the store came from. I’ve been spinning yarn regularly for a little more than two years. I got started on a drop spindle and eventually upgraded to the spinning wheel I use now, but we’ll get to more of that in the next entry.

One of the major reasons I’m opening this store is because of my love for pets. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love dogs. My neighbour asked me to watch her dog last night and I’m still excited about it as I write this post. The dog has already come and gone.

My relationship with dogs was not always like this though. When I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, I was bitten by a dog. In retrospect, it was probably a very gentle bite, as this dog is remembered very fondly by everybody else who knew him. However, it’s my first real memory of interacting with a dog, and it led to me being afraid of them until my family got Tovah.

Tovah was a golden retriever puppy that my family adopted while visiting a family friend. I was still terrified of dogs at this time, so when my parents floated the idea of bringing home a dog, I was dead set against it until maybe two minutes later when I actually saw her. Right away, all my time spent being afraid of dogs seemed like the silliest thing ever.

She couldn’t have been more than a couple months old when we took her home, and I became her biggest fan immediately. I wouldn’t let go of her the whole drive home. That isn’t to say that she was always well behaved. We had to buy a new dining room set after one of the chairs collapsed under a guest at dinner due to her chewing the legs. Golden Retriever puppies aren’t known for being docile.

Tovah really brought a new level of energy to our home. Through all the chaos, she was mostly well behaved. She never ran away or hurt anyone. She did like to terrorize the family of bunnies living under the back porch, but I’m not sure she’d have known what to do with one if she caught it. When the family was watching TV, she would love to come and bother somebody until they started to pet her and then move out of reach. As soon as they gave up, she’d be right back to bothering them and the whole cycle began again. I’ve always wondered what was going through her head to cause that little quirk in her personality. 

Over the years, my brothers and I got busier and eventually moved out of the house. My dad retired and he and Tovah spent all their time together. You’ve never seen a dog devoted to their owner the way Tovah was to my dad. It was in my last year of university that Tovah really started showing her age, and she would pass away about a month after I graduated.

I had my dad send over some photos of Tovah so I could write this post, and looking at her really made me realize how much I missed her. I didn’t have any photos of my own, so it was the first time I’d looked at her in a while. With the store opening up, I keep finding myself wishing I had something more tangible to remember her by.

I spent a lot of time in high school at my best friend’s house, and his family has a beautiful and friendly Australian Shepherd named Cola. Cola and I have spent many nights together curled up on the couch in the basement of that house and it’s such a privilege for me to get to create something from her fur for this family who’s done so much for me.

 

The connection between a family and a pet is a really special one. It’s a unique kind of unconditional love that we share with them and it’s something that deserves to be remembered. I can’t wait to share in that bond with everyone who comes to the store and help them to remember their companion just a little better.

I’m going to talk a little bit more about my journey with the craft of hand-spinning and the technicalities of making dog yarn (or chiengora,) in the next blog post, but I wanted to give a little window into my own history with pets. I’m an animal lover to the core and there’s nothing I want more than to deepen the connection people have with their pets.

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