My mobile cuisine experiences may be limited to a Charlie Brown moment involving beignets and a longstanding intention to track down Alice’s Aebelskabels and try the traditional Danish pancake known as aebelskiver, but this strategist is well-versed in the continuing food truck trend. Initiatives like The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook and the Columbus Mobile Food Conference & Expo fuel public interest in these street-roaming ways for entrepreneurs and aspiring restaurateurs to test concepts for specialty eats with decreased overhead, start-up costs and risks.
Gahanna, Ohio resident Robin Richey put her undergraduate degree in business administration to good use when she decided to launch Yarnbyrds, the only yarn truck of its kind in Ohio and one of about 10 yarn trucks throughout the United States and Canada.
Richey converted a 20-by-8-foot white motor home into a paradise for yarn-lovers. Her husband, an electrical engineer, installed generator-powered color rendering index lighting — including a crystal chandelier — to show the yarns’ true colors. Custom-built cubbyholes are filled with yarn in a tantalizing array of colors and weights, including several hand-dyed lines that have been designed exclusively for Yarnbyrds.
Richey hit the road this past July, and has been driving “Byrdie” to fiber festivals and farmers’ markets in Westerville, Grandview, Athens and Yellow Springs.
At the Church of the Resurrection’s Fiber Fair in New Albany on October 29, my cousin and I indulged in skeins of Round Mountain Fibers’ hand-dyed yarn in colorways inspired by bird plumage. After debating between “Black Rosy Finch,” “Blue Jay,” “Dark Eyed Junco,” “Snowy Owl” and “Wood Duck,” I settled on “Green Heron,” a fingering-weight tribute to the striking bird with a velvety green back, chestnut-hued body and dark gray wings. She chose the worsted-weight “Atlantic Puffin,” a black-and-white skein with multicolored accents like its bill.
The next week, we saw Byrdie at the Friends of the Westerville Public Library’s Sit & Knit Day, during which fiber enthusiasts drop in to work on projects, share their work and demonstrate techniques.
She left with a map-themed zippered box pouch that Richey made; I gave in to “Amalfi Coast,” a fingering-weight wet kettle-dyed skein of merino, cashmere and nylon from Cleveland-based Destination Yarn that picks up the blues and greens from the water of this Italian destination, grays from the landscape, and corals from the buildings. “Farmer’s Market,” which captures the shades of kale, eggplant, tomato and carrots, and “Hocking Hills,” a combination of greens, earth tones and grey that capture the feeling of the well-known southern Ohio destination, will have to wait for another Yarnbyrds sighting.
Joyce Weida, a local designer of knitting patterns named after Columbus icons like Pearl Alley, Antrim Lake and the Southern Theatre, gave Sit & Knit Day attendees a complimentary pattern for “Seed,” an asymmetrical triangular wrap knit in seed stitch with three colors of worsted-weight yarn. Yarnbyrds carries some of Weida’s designs; you can also find them here on Ravelry, an online community where knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers can keep track of their yarn, patterns and projects.
Byrdie plans to nest at Camelot Cellars on November 23 and the Granville Winter Farmer’s Market on December 3, among other places. Click here for more information, or follow Yarnbyrds on Facebook, Instagram and Ravelry.