Episode 047: Espace Tricot on Building a Yarn Shop Fueled by Friendship

These days, there are so many sad notices and posts about yarn shops closing and one might think that the future of knitting and brick n’ mortar stores is bleak. But today on the show, I chat with two passionate knitters and shop owners who are doing it right and have seen year-over-year success with their yarn shop, Espace Tricot.

In July 2017, Melissa Clulow and Lisa di Fruscia will celebrate the 7-year anniversary of their yarn shop, Espace Tricot. Located in Montreal, Canada, this store has become an incredible gathering place for the knitting community as much as it is a retail space. And at the heart of Espace Tricot is this friendship that Melissa and Lisa share and the community that they have created.

When Melissa Clulow first picked up a set of knitting needles back in 2008, something just, well, clicked. Suddenly, evenings on the sofa became productive and an enduring passion was born. Meanwhile, across town, Lisa Di Fruscia had turned to knitting while her newborn son napped afternoons away in the car (his preferred location). The two newly minted yarn lovers, hooked on the creative and stress-relieving properties of the craft, soon met at a local knit night, became fast friends, and, over coffee and stockinette, daydreamed about the ideal knit shop.

Casting off their previous lives in non-profit management and teaching, Melissa and Lisa opened Espace Tricot in 2010. As much a gathering place as a retail space, the shop’s inspiring atmosphere caters to fiber lovers of all ages and skill levels, attracting a loyal clientele. The store stocks a large and carefully curated selection of yarns and fibers, notions, accessories, books and patterns. Espace Tricot also offers many classes and workshops where new knitters, crocheters, and spinners can get started and more advanced customers can hone their skills. Espace Tricot is conveniently located in the heart of Notre-Dame-de-Grace in Montreal.

At first a lot of people were asking, “if I buy yarn, do I get a free pattern?” but you have have to understand that if there wasn’t a person who was a designer who dedicated their time and their energy and their job to making patterns, you would not be able to knit. So I think we brought people to that space where they understand that designers make a living, hand dyers make a living, and this is a valid and a valuable way to earn a living and to contribute to society. — Lisa di Fruscia

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Melissa and Lisa focused on knitting garment samples in the early days
  • How the practice of knitting has been a force in each of their lives
  • How they manage to work on a local yarn shop at a distance (Lisa in Montreal and Melissa in New Jersey)
  • How Espace Tricot educates their community and clientele about the value of what knitwear designers do
  • How Espace Tricot is preparing for the future in the knitting industry

Where to find Espace Tricot Yarn Shop:

“Love Your Yarn Shop” Giveaway

All you listeners out there, I would love to hear about why you love your local yarn shop and what unique or awesome thing they do that keeps you coming back again and again. Leave a comment BELOW about what makes your yarn shop special and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from our online shop for SweetGeorgia. We’ll leave this open until March 15, 2017 and then draw a winner. I’m so interested to hear what makes your yarn shop special!

Thanks for Listening!

Thank you so much for joining me this episode! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your fellow yarny friends. And if you like what I’m doing here, please leave a rating and review on iTunes for the show. I read each and every email and bit of feedback, whether it’s on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, so I welcome your comments.

Music Credits:

The Young and Beautiful – by Ivory Hours
For Michelle (NoiseTrade exclusive bonus track) – by Connor Zwetsch (on NoiseTrade)

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  • Nancy Morales

    Hello Felicia! Love your podcast. You feature fabulous guests.

    I live in a very hot climate (deep south Texas) so we did not even have a yarn store until about three years ago. What makes our shop unique is that it is a non-profit with a mission to ship fiber goods (all donated by makers) to those in need in Asia and Latin America.

    Thank you.

    Nancy Morales (Rav/Instagram: lajoyagirl)
    Palmview, TX

  • gillian

    Hi there Felicia! Really enjoyed listening to your podcast interview with Melissa and Lisa from Lespace Tricot. I ‘found’ their knitting podcast just last month and love tuning in. My LYS is the place I went to initially to buy yarn and take some knitting courses after years of being away from the craft. It’s a welcoming store run by fabulous people who are always there to help and offer advise. I slot away at least one afternoon a week to join a Knit and chat group. Our afternoon involves sharing knitting projects, having a tea or coffee together, getting caught up on family events and what’s going on in the world. This group of people have become my friends and it is a time I look forward to each and every week.

  • Annie Bakopoulos

    Wonderful episode!

    My LYS is Espace Tricot and I really have to say it’s the staff that make it such a pleasant and vibrant experience. Not only do they provide great advice and help but they’re warm and welcoming.

    Annie (insta: knittingitup)

  • Lucie

    Hello Felicia,
    Espace Tricot, that’s my favourite store! The staff is wonderful (very helpful, good advices, no pressure at all). The place is full of quality yarns, accessories, samples and people happy to be there. I have to thank my daughter who offered me a “Knitted 101” course at Espace Tricot as a gift for my retirement. She made me discover their store…their Instagram…their Podcast. What a joy to visit this LYS again and again. Finally, hope it’s a good sign, I googled SweetGeorgia Website today because I just finished your Sail Shawl…and I found your Podcast with Espace Tricot…and l saw that Knittingitup, Annie, who host the CanadianKal, in which I participate, shares a comment with you. What a coincidence!!!
    I have to say that your Podcast is very interesting…your voice is such a sweet…very easy for me to follow…for my French listening.

  • Stacy Adams

    Awesome podcast and love learning more about Espace Tricot, very insightful information. There are a few LYS close to me, but my favorite is Charlotte Yarn which is further from where I live. It is worthwhile to me to drive the additional miles because of the yarn selection (Madelinetosh, Quince & Co, Shalimar, Hedgehog Fibers to name a few plus a few local indie dyers like Junkyarn and Butterfly’s Web), the modern aesthetic of the store and the very friendly staff. Maybe I can get them to carry Sweet Georgia??!!

    • Thank you so much Stacy! Your comment was randomly selected to be our podcast prize winner! Please get in touch with me by email at felicia@sweetgeorgiayarns.com and I will send you our $25 gift certificate! :) Thank you again for listening to the show!

  • pat Loechner

    I loved hearing your conversation with Mellissa and Lisa. You have a great voice.
    I have some of the best yarn shops in Indiana that I have been to anywhere else. Knitting Off Broadway has everything that I have seen in other yarn stores around the country.
    Natalie and her Mom opened this shop together and have a amazing eye for color and texture. Natalie is a young vibrint enthusiastic knitter. I love the warmth and and challenges she gives you. The buiding they are located in is very charming and and old but cozy and beautiful. Thank you

  • Meagan

    Hello Felicia & Sweet Georgia, thank you for a wonderful show again this week. My local yarn shop is Wolseley Wool in Winnipeg, MB. I have been shopping at Wolseley Wool since I began knitting/crochet 6 or 7 years ago. At W.W. I have: taken classes, participated in knits nights, gone on a retreat, and relied on several helpful staff to contemplate tools, colours and yarn with me for patterns. While I also order yarn online sometimes, nothing beats being able to go somewhere to touch and take in all the colour choices, and have a chat with someone who is as excited about string as you are!

  • Margot Montréal

    Hello Felicia! I also love your podcast and your voice :-) I think this was a fabulous idea: inviting guests who are not indie dyers but shop owners.
    I live in Montreal but quite on the East end side (more French) of the city. I have always knit, but took it more seriously (!) since I retired and I have to say that over the past year, Espace Tricot has become my favorite LYS even though it’s a 1 hour 15 minutes ride on public transit for me to get there! They have an amazing variety of yarns, the staff is soooo nice, and even though they have quite a big inventory, I find that everything is well organized and easy to find (needles in drawers by brand and then by mm) but I think what I like the most is the fact that their classes are given when the shop is closed (the teacher is not distracted or asked to help with clients) and are limited to 6 students. I took the R&R Hoddie class last fall because I wanted to learn how to sew a zipper on a knitting project and it turned out just wonderful. I am so happy with the result.

    Margot (Bayadere92 on Ravelry)

  • Stephanie A

    Hello! Loving your podcast! I live in Vancouver Bc and plan to make a visit to your shop as soon as I finish my other projects. Your hand dyed yarn is gorgeous and I love your creativity. I quite enjoy Three Bags Full on Main st. the staff are fantastic, friendly and super helpful. They help pick colours and make suggestions when asked. They provide wonderful customer service and make me feel valued each time I visit. Keep up the awesome Podcasts!

  • Anne

    Love your podcast! And I love my LYS — The Fuzzy Goat in Thomasville, Georgia. Cadence has created a welcoming, warm shop that makes me want to sit and knit — and buy more yarn and learn new skills and start new projects! It’s there that I learned to knit, and I can always count on help, advice, and good conversation.

    Anne (ravelry: ge0rgianne)

  • Ricci

    My local yarn shop is A Verb for Keeping Warm, so I am very thankful for their focus on sustaining a wool industry in California and championing hand dyeing. It has really opened my eyes to the importance of supporting local farmers as well as local businesses.

  • Hi, Felicia! I listen to the podcast on my way to work and really enjoy it. This one was special as I’ve dreamt of starting a yarn shop in my town.

    My favorite lys is not so local, about 25 miles away, but I know I will always find what I need there (along with yarn I think I’ll need or just love and can’t leave without purchasing). The right buttons? Yep. The right needles for the project? Absolutely. The owner is friendly but not intrusive while I shop. She’s helped me out of a few knitting jams without making me feel like an idiot. My favorite Christmas present is a gift certificate at Woolbearers and I’ve taken a few classes there, too. And…they carry sweet Georgia!
    Ann Marie Miller – knotnut on ravelry
    Hightstown, NJ

  • Megan Larsen

    Hi! Just discovered the podcast in the last week and I’m currently binge listening to all of them. My local LYS is wonderful – they carry wonderful yarns, have lots of classes, and encourage everyone to just come and sit and knit. I’ve joined a shawl knit along last year and that group has turned into a regular meet up every Thursday afternoon at the shop. Usual with food and sometimes wine. I love it. Really enjoy the podcast – such interesting people!

  • Steph

    My local yarn shop is Woolyn in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a new shop (just over 6 months old) that specializes in local products and indie/hard to find yarns. It also has the a large selection of spinning fibers (including Sweet Georgia, which I spun some of recently!) and Ashford spinning tools.

  • Laurel Gervitz

    Hi Felicia!
    I really enjoyed the podcast. I am American but live in Belgium and while I also love trying different kinds of yarn, I’m also somewhat of a yarn snob, preferring very nice handdyed yarn. All the local stores here are tiny and don’t sell these types of yarn. So I don’t really have a local LYS but prefer ordering yarn from stores on the internet. I’ve found several around Europe that I like and I also order from the US and Canada. So I definitely buy a variety of different Yarns. My personal favorite store that is “somewhat” close is the Wollemeise store in Pfaffenhofen, Germany. Omg the amount of color they have is so crazy and it’s so beautiful to look at as well. Of course, it’s organised in the best way possible with all the blues together, reds, etc and it’s easy to find what you want but there’s a lot of choices!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Laurel (Lkgervitz on Ravelry and Instagram)

  • The needle bee Brenda

    Hello Felicia, I found Espace Tricot in You Tube while watching other knitting podcast. I immediately liked them! I will love to have them near me. I have two LYS in my area -I live in Tampa Fl and I wish there were more knitters here- but I like that one of them has knit nights once a week and it is great to meet other knitters and to escape for a little Me time. The other store is open every day so it is very convenient in case you need a pair of needles right away. Thank you for another great episode.
    Ravelry: theneedlebee

  • PennyRae Creates

    Felicia, as usual, another great podcast! I am lucky to have a two favorite LYSs. Yarnivore in San Antonio, TX, is a favorite because it offers numerous affordable learning opportunities and amazing instruction (truly with the heart of teacher). The Tinsmith’s Wife in Comfort, TX, is my other favorite because of the quality inventory, quantity of samples (current on-trend yet classic patterns worked in that high quality yarn), ambiance, and customer service.

    Keep up your great work!
    Penny (Rav/Instagram: pennyraecreates)

  • Kate H

    Hi Felicia! My LYS is special to me because it feels like a home away from home. 2 years ago, they helped me pick out my first knitting project’s yarn and knitting needles. It was during a really difficult time of my grad school and needless to say, I had a lot of fear that I was going to mess things up, but they really helped me feel safe. I’ve always gone back there for new inspirations, workshops, and of course yarn etc.!

  • Mary Beth Mathews

    One of my local yarn shops just closed (the owner retired) but luckily there are several others in the area. I love the fact that I can go in and look at and feel the yarns before I buy them, and I enjoy meeting other knitters as well.

  • J Tersteeg

    I’m so happy I found your podcast. I am listening from the two ends, current and from the beginning. I feel so fortunate to have two great LYS here in the Duluth/Superior area. Both offer great help when stuck. I forget if it was Lisa or Melissa who said it, but helping you get “unstuck” from a project. Both yarn shops have wonderful selections of yarn and oodles of inspirations.

  • Stacy

    I recently discovered your podcast. I’m really enjoying listening. I love my LYS because the owner is always so welcoming and she inspires me with color and new projects. Each visit is a special outing and I’m always looking forward to the next one.

  • Matt Cole

    Hi Felicia! I have just started listening to your podcast and being a fellow Canadian living in Nova Scotia, I feel all your Canadian love!

    My local yarn store is run by Deanne Fitzpatrick, who is a pretty well known rug hooker in these parts. She brings her unique creativity around that fibre art expression form to her shop. She is a fellow Newfoundlander living on the mainland, and her effort to keep the rug hooking tradition alive makes me proud. Her rugs capture the beauty of our local landscapes and I want to return there as a customer in an attempt to emulate that :)


  • Elisa Kreller

    My new word of the day… knitteratti!

  • Lisa Pulsifer

    Fabulous episode! Melissa and Lisa are definitely inspirational entrepreneurs. My LYS is Crafty Creations in Delta, BC. It’s only been open a year but owner Nicole has done an amazing job at sourcing beautiful yarns (many local brands!) and creating a local community of knitters. I particularly love the reward program and there are always yarns on sale to entice me!

  • Darlene

    I have several LYS that I love. They each have great selections of different yarns, which I why I have more than one favourite. It takes them all! The owner of one LYS once gifted me at the holidays a special skein of Sweet Gerogia, hand selected by the shop owner just for me at the SW showroom. I made it into one of my farourite shawls to wear. Silk and cashmere and merino I think. And I alwasy receive compliments on the colourway when I wear the shawl. SO soft to wear. One shop in particular, Urban Yarns, does the best event evenings bringing in designers for interesting trunk shows or open houses. Once the goodie bags even had skeins of MadTosh in them – swoon!

  • LindaS

    Hi Felicia I love your podcast! I am only a recent listener (thanks to the Grocery Girls) and so far I have enjoyed every episode! I work part time in my LYS – such a lovely job! The best part about it is getting people started on a new project – helping them choose yarn and patterns etc. However I find it is important to observe the customer first and see how much input they want or need. Many more experienced knitters prefer to be left alone to soak up the colour and do their own thing but some like to have their hand held. Noticing the difference is key to good customer service imho! Sometimes too much attention can put them off. Lol! I personally like to see a good variety of yarn, all the needles and notions you might need and friendly, knowledgable staff.

  • Shelly

    Great podcast! I love my yarn store (Second Story Knits in Bethesda MD!) because they hold bi-weekly knit nights that are a really fun way to meet other locals who love to knit and crochet! Plus, there are such a wide variety of tastes and skill levels, so it’s great for broadening your horizons :)

  • I recently moved, and I haven’t yet found a LYS I love. However, before the move, I had two favorites. One had less yarn but amazing employees, the kind who would let you browse but answer any question you asked, always had community events and trunk shows, that sort of thing. The other was less personal and community-focused, but it had the most amazing selection of yarn. And it was right across from a fancy tea place!

  • Katie Holtzhauer

    Hi Felicia – Love your podcast with Melissa and Lisa. They are so inspiring and genuine! I have to say that while I live in a city with several yarn stores, my favourite LYS is Espace Tricot. I am newly back into knitting and I can still recall my very first visit to their shop during a visit to Montreal. The staff was so welcoming and helpful – showing me different yarns and pattern. This shop is where I was first introduced to your yarns!! I seem to find reasons to make the 2 hour drive to Montreal just so that I can pop into this wonderful place.

  • Melanie Purcell

    Hi! I love your podcast! My LYS has open knit times, and I go every Thursday night. Company aside, they do a lot of limited runs from indie dyers, trunk shows, and KALs.

  • Bmcg

    My LYS is the Needle and Arts Centre in Campbell River. I love that they have friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff, a good selection of various types of yarns at various price points and an excellent selection of notions and needles. They also have awesome sales.

  • Margaret Younger

    I loved this podcast! I learned so much listening to these owners. I love my LYS; I help part time. Open knitting is always encouraged, and our set knit nights are inspiring, supportive, encouraging, hilarious, and too short!
    I would love to have a dialogue with you; our majority owner recently died, and I would like to talk/correspond with someone that might be able to provide some insight for me/us.
    mayounger on Ravelry
    Margaret Diehl Younger on FB

  • arlene lund

    What a great way to start my Saturday morning! Espace Tricot has been my favourite LYS since the day it opened. Melissa and Lisa bring such a positive energy to the shop. They have chosen consultants who share their positivity which makes for a great customer experience. Aside from that their selection is simply amazing. The variety and the quality of the yarn cannot be beat. The other thing that sets them apart from other yarn stores is that they truly are a “one stop shop” with everything you might need to complete your project including buttons. For years now, when I travelled for work, I would always check out the LYS in whatever city I find myself in. I have to say since EspaceTricot has come to my city it is not quite so important to me because I know I can find whatever I am looking for at home.

  • Anne Sturtevant

    One of my favorite shops is Sticks & Strings in Lansing, Michigan. It also has two friends who are the owners. They are both right there when you walk in the door and they always seem so happy to see you. They let you look, but check in with you from time to time (often to unload my arms and take things to the counter). I also like their samples. If there’s a new yarn in, there is often an accessory already made up to see how it’s used…and that pattern is available. So I often go home with ready-to-go projects. They feel like friends…they ask about family…and their aesthetic (in yarns and samples) work with what I like. They are also really good about churning their inventory (sales), so they can have new things. They also carry my favorite needles, etc. So it’s all good!

    (Ravelry: beadweasel)

  • Margaret

    I have to advocate for Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, on Bainbridge Island. My husband and I moved to the island just after we were married in 2004, and I had the honor of being a sample knitter for Kit for a year and a half or so while we lived there. Kit and John have built an incredible shop: their artistic vision is always evident, and their warmth and joy and love of what they do pervades everything. I wish I still lived a mile down the road from their wonderful shop!

    • Here, here! I have to agree with you on Churchmouse! It’s a lovely shop!! I remember visiting them a couple years ago and they were so warm and friendly.

  • Beverley Robertson

    I visit Espace Tricot whenever I return to my hometown of Montreal. I have visited yarn shops across Canada and the US, in the UK, Ireland, France, Iceland, Australia, etc. Espace Tricot is hands down one of the best shops I have ever come across. They have figured out the perfect intersection of friendly, helpful, fluently bilingual employees, an enthusiastic community of knitters, an excellent yarn selection (both in brands and colours), a vast and brilliant selection of samples (scarves, shawls, hats, sweaters, kids’ clothing, blankets, socks, and on and on), a nicely lit space with a big table to work at, great classes, an up-to-date blog, some free patterns, a beautiful and well-designed web store, and extensive connections with ravelry. You cannot go in this store without being inspired AND being able to find just the right yarn for your inspiration. Lisa and Melissa are such smart businesswomen–they have the LYS model totally dialed in!

  • Colleen Caro

    Hi Felicia,
    My Yarn shop is very active with a great newsletter, latest classes, yarns, special jewelry events, Classes with the “greats” in the industry, I love going in and catching up on the newest yarns in stock and being among the community that has been built there.