When Cowgirl Yarn owner Lori Kirk heard the lot behind her store was going to be dug up for the future location of Big Hollow Food Co-Op, she said she knew she had to act fast.
“I bought the building two years ago, and when I was down in the basement, I saw the potential for growth sometime in the future,” Kirk said. “That future got moved up quite quickly because of the Big Hollow being built in the big empty lot out back.”
To renovate the Cowgirl Yarn basement, 119 Ivinson Ave., Kirk said dirt and concrete would have to be removed from the rear of the building by way of the empty lot where the food co-op is slated to be built.
“I kind of needed to move up my dream of expanding Cowgirl Yarn,” she said. “Otherwise, it wasn’t going to happen.”
Once the food co-op is built, Kirk said the only option for removing construction materials from the basement would have been through a manhole in the street.
“We were digging for possibilities, and here we are,” she said.
Founded 12 years ago, Kirk said Cowgirl Yarn moved into its current location in 2012.
“What I love most about yarn is the colors and the fibers — and the creativity it inspires in people,” she said. “I could give the same fiber to 12 people and they would come back with 12 unique creations.”
Fibers of every color lined the walls inside Kirk’s shop.
Green wool ranging in shades from spearmint to grasshopper filled a section of cubby holes beneath a sign boasting the fibers along the wall were locally grown in Wyoming.
“I learned to knit and weave about 10 years ago,” Kirk said. “But I’ve been involved with yarn since I was a child holding it for my grandmother as she crocheted.”
Several pins protruding from a worn map of the United States set above the store entrance indicated 35 locations across the nation Kirk buys her products from.
“We get wool from six of the seven continents,” she said. “But I’m very proud of those 35 pins.”
Once settled into her current location, Kirk bought the building and started daydreaming about having the space to not only keep the shop running but to also have a place to host crafting events and classes.
With the basement presenting the ideal location, Kirk researched the history of the building and decided to name her future craft education center the Fernwood Studio in honor of one of the building’s original owners, Louisa Wall.
“She bought the building in the 1890s, and her store was called Fernwood,” Kirk said. “The newspaper article described it as confectionery floral, but also a place for people to gather, and that’s what we do here — we gather.”
Because of the accelerated timeline, she said getting the capital together for the project posed a problem. But after looking at a few possibilities, she came across the crowdfunding platform the Laramie Local Crowd.
Hosted by the Laramie Main Street Alliance, the platform is designed to build community partnerships and encourage collaborations while providing an engaging resource to grow local businesses, a Main Street news release says.
“It will be open to the public,” Kirk said. “It will be a place people interested in crafts of all sorts can gather, so that is how I justify asking the public for helping fund the project.”
Already, she said the Laramie Fiber Guild, Laramie Art Quilters and an embroidery group from Colorado have scheduled time in the to-be-finished-soon craft space.
“We’ll have large looms people can rent down there, and it will provide a space where we can hold classes on crafts of all sorts,” Kirk said. “Oh, the possibilities are endless.”
With a goal of $7,500 by Saturday, Kirk said the community has helped her raise about $5,000 so far.
To celebrate 12 years in business and increase awareness about the funding campaign, Cowgirl Yarn is hosting a drop-in event from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday.
“As part of the local crowd campaign, my wonderful customers have donated finished pieces to benefit the studio,” Kirk said. “With graduation and Mother’s Day around the corner, we’re hoping people will come in to see things, touch things and hopefully buy things.”
All proceeds from the sale of donated finished products will be applied to helping the project reach its goal, and the Fernwood Studio is slated to open by the end of June, she said.
Go to www.thelocalcrowd.com/communities/laramie, stop in the store or call Kirk at 755-9276 to donate.
Cowgirl Yarn is open 7-9 p.m. Mondays, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays.