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The Shabby Sheep, Yarn Bombing and Knitting in Klyde Warren Park

Lauren Smart

Located in the peaceful State Thomas neighborhood just a stone's throw (or a yarn toss) from the park, The Shabby Sheep is a "Yarn shop tucked into a vintage cottage." A haven of knitting know-how, The Shabby Sheep doesn't just sell yarn they teach you how to knit and crochet.

On Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m. you can catch Ronda and her team of knitters in the Dallas Morning News Reading & Games Room at Klyde Warren Park. In the knitting circle you can learn how to knit or socialize while you work on a project of your own.

Lauren Smart, our communications specialist, chatted with Ronda about knitting in the park, The Shabby Sheep and yarn bombing.

Lauren: How long have you been knitting?

Ronda: I briefly learned as a child from my Grandma, but then moved on to horses, motorcycles and boys, then became a busy mom of three. I picked up the needles again about 9 years ago when my then teenage daughter showed an interest in learning, and haven't stopped since.

Lauren:  Did you found The Shabby Sheep? What's the inspiration for the shop?

Ronda: Yes I did, I opened the original shop on Boll Street in June of 2005. I dreamed of creating a warm and cozy space where one would enter, feel like they were in a dear friend's home and have the world of yarns at their fingertips with a knitting coach close at hand to get you through your projects no matter how small or complicated. I found the perfect cottage in the State Thomas neighborhood, the name Shabby Sheep was a play on the chippy, timeworn interior style of Shabby Chic which I incorporated into the decor.

Lauren: Before you started knitting in the park how often did you knit outdoors?

Ronda: I would ocassionally use the excuse that I needed my vitamin D and grab my latest project and knit a few rows out on the porch or patio of the shop. When you run a retail shop there isn't much time for outdoor leisure activities, now my excuse is I have to go to work at the park!

Lauren: What's the biggest knitting project you've ever taken on?

Ronda: The biggest project I personally completed was an interior commission for a child's room in a newly constructed contemporary home here in Dallas. I – with the help of shop staff– knit and crocheted a four poster bed, a 36" diameter ottoman, a swivel desk chair and 6 knit panels spelling the child's name. Whew! It was fun but I was glad to get that off my to do list! My next challenge, a 1961 Otasco Flying O lady's bicycle. But yarnbombing the Winspear Opera House was by far the largest project I ever worked on.

Lauren:  What's the deal with yarnbombing?

Ronda: It's a fibery, creative public expression, using yarn as a temporary means of personalizing hard often cold public places. The whole process from planning, making and installing, and seeing the public's reaction is a blast. If it doesn't make you smile, nothing will. Though I did hear one man at the park while inspecting a bombed tree state, "this is just weird" and I'm good with that too!

Lauren: What was the inspiration for the yarn bombing in the park?

Ronda: Installing a project in the park it seemed natural to create a garden theme. Sally (aka KWitta - masterful Dallas yarn bomber) and I then discovered that the adjacent children's park had a caterpillar transforming to butterfly fountain and it was settled. We knew for our creation to really catch the eyes of park goers we needed to go with bright colors, so from that basic garden theme of vines, flowers, leaves and critters the imagination of the 40+ volunteer knitters and crocheters took it to a level we never expected. I look for excuses to go to the park just to watch the reaction of those who discover, and have their photos taken hugging a tree.

Lauren: Where are you planning to yarn bomb next? (or is that a secret...?)

Ronda: Part of the experience for those of us creating, as well as the public is the unexpected! We have a few places on our wish list (once you get hooked on this, every public space becomes a potential yarn bombing site), but we are always open to suggestions or requests, got any?

Visit the Shabby Sheep on the web here or in person at 2112 Boll Street in Dallas, TX. And be sure to join in on a knitting circle in the park sometime! 

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