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Tricot Laines Studio: weaving history and community in Huntingdon

Christina Fasoula first learned to knit at the age of ten, when her neighbour taught her how. She started using her spending money to buy balls of yarn, hoping to be able to learn more. You could say she was hooked. Now, 32 years later, she has sewn this passion into the Tricot Laines Studio in Huntingdon, where she continues to knit, when she can find the time.

Fasoula first opened a clothing store in Longueuil in 2003. “I was fascinated by textiles,” she says, of both designing and buying clothing. When the textile crisis struck in 2005, she closed the store. It wasn’t until the birth of her first child several years later that she began to seriously take up knitting again.

In 2013, she learned to weave. This coincided with a move to Huntingdon, where she says she felt an immediate connection with the town. “People love textiles here,” she says, while acknowledging the long history of the textile mills and the deep scars left by the sudden end to the industry.

She soon opened a store on the Etsy online platform and began selling her products at the Huntingdon County Farmers Market. “After that, there was no going back,” she laughs. She began to learn more about the process involved in creating yarns and different kinds of materials. She started felting and processing rough fibres and experimenting with different dying processes. She also began spinning. “It is not just about making something, but learning about what you are making,” she says.

 

Christina Fasoula opened the Tricot Laines Studio in Huntingdon in September. Much more than a yarn store, the studio offers classes and workshops for all levels. PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Her spinning wheels are from Norway and are almost 200 years old. She spins barefoot, “to feel the imprint of all the women who have used it before me,” she explains. Most recently, she began working with an antique sock-making machine from the 1920s. She says she feels connected to the history of textiles, which is something she shares with the Huntingdon community. “We needed a place where we could go to feel good about this,” she says.

She had been toying with the idea of opening a storefront for the past six years but was waiting on funding and the right location. Through the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent and Emploi Québec, she was able to receive the Support for Self-Employment measure, which offers financial assistance to start-up entrepreneurs. “It gives you energy and encouragement to keep going,” she says of the program, which includes a mentorship component. As a mother to three wonderful young children, she says the support allowed her to manage the risk associated with starting a business.

Fasoula converted what had once been a café and then a pizza restaurant on Chateauguay Street into a beautiful store with shelves teeming with yarns in every colour. Over 175 people came to the opening day in September. She says the store itself is a dream come true, but she is not stopping there. “I didn’t want just a yarn store, but a place that will also build community,” she explains, noting she holds social stitching gatherings as well as group and private lessons. Workshops on various subjects will start in November.

“The community support is amazing,” she smiles, saying she not only feels at home, but has found a role for herself in stitching the community back together.

 

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