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Five Bristol businesswomen stitch community together

Materials needed: seven women, yarn, yoga and a business on Main Street in Bristol.
Just like a knitting project, this story starts with a simple idea. But as any knitter knows, simple ideas aren’t always that simple. 
The first stitch was cast when Karen McEachen, a retired teacher at Bristol Elementary, invited Elissa Cobb to come to her barn in Bristol to teach a yoga class. Inspired, after taking some time away from teaching yoga, Cobb decided to float the idea of starting a business with yarn and yoga.
“She had a dream,” said Diane Corey, a now retired special educator at Middlebury Union Middle School. “She went around to us, and asked us what we thought of creating a place to focus on fiber arts and do yoga.”
McEachen and Corey, along with Anne Wallace, Mary McGuire, Laurie Lowy and Janet Chill came together with Cobb and founded Yarn & Yoga in June of 2014.
“We’re living the dream,” said Wallace, a retired social worker at Addison County Parent-Child Center. “It keeps all us ‘old ladies’ off the streets.”
The shop on Main Street is cozy ? just as you’d expect a yarn shop to be. There are colorful skeins of yarn lining all the walls, sample sweaters, mittens, scarves and socks tacked to the shelves, needle-felted creatures tucked into any open shelf space, and vertical cubbies on wheels that make way for the yoga mats, belts, blankets and cushions.
“I think the smallness is a great part of it,” said Wallace. “It seems like this space is elastic ? there’s always enough room.”
Kinda like that wonderful book, The Mitten… If you haven’t read it, do.
Yoga classes are held five days a week and are taught by Cobb (Chill subs), Jen Peterson and Ali DaBica.
“There’s something nice about the softness of doing yoga around yarn,” said Cobb. “It’s comforting. I think it also helps with the acoustics.”
On Wednesdays, Yarn & Yoga also hosts Wednesday Night Inspirations ? a free gathering that offers a small intimate space to people who’d like to perform or share. The evenings reflect our dedication to being a community center for learning, creativity and well-being. Wednesday, Nov. 9, features Healing Sound Meditation with Andrew Noethiger from 6-7:15 p.m.
“We want to be a community meeting place,” said Wallace, noting that giving back is part of their mission.
“It’s fun to see people gathering here,” said McGuire, an English teacher (now down to half-time) at Mount Abraham High School.
“People come in stuck on a project, and end up staying and talking,” said Cobb. “Usually, there’s much more than the project that’s tangled up.”
“Many of us are or were teachers and social workers,” said Wallace. “It comes in handy!”
As a team of seven, the women share all the ownership and responsibilities evenly ? well, accept the books. They leave that to the trusty Laurie Lowy of Bristol. Lowy is also the full-time accountant for Vermont Community Foundation in Middlebury.
“She is the gentlest, most patient person,” said Cobb. “This is a person who works with numbers for a living and none of us hardly knows what a number is!”
Books, web-development, yoga instruction, knitting classes, special workshops… the list goes on.
“We’re more than the sum of our parts,” said Corey. “We really work together well.”
“We are a team of extremely creative, passionate, loving, resourceful, sensitive, adventuresome, joyous and fun women that I love spending time with,” Chill ? who is a retired tour leader and manager for VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations (she’s also been teaching yoga since 2003 and is a fine arts painter) ? chimed in.
“There’s a lot of mutual trust and respect,” said McGuire.
It looks like, seven heads and 14 hands are better than one.
“It feels like our third year in business is on a really good track,” said Cobb, who worked for many years at the director of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy in Bristol, and prior to that, was a personal trainer and fitness instructor in Addison County.
“The better we do the more we can do for the community,” added Cobb. Yarn & Yoga has a long list of donations and ways they support the community, including the yarn swap ? where you can bring in your unused yarn or needles and swap it, or come buy it for 50 cents per ounce. So far those donations have totaled over $500, which goes directly to Have a Heart Bristol Food Shelf.
“We’re not in it to make big bucks,” continued Cobb. “We need enough to stay here and enough to give back.”
There are many kinds of currency, Cobb said, and Yarn & Yoga is flush with the warm fuzzies.
“Come on in and get inspired that’s what we do best,” said Corey.

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