Birkeland Bros. is a 73-year-old family business in Vancouver, and earlier this year announced they would be closing due to the health of 4th generation owner, Cara. Brothers Olaf and Mike arrived from Norway in the 1930’s and set up a wool processing business in 1939 on Main Street. The business centered around The Old Lady—a two tonne 100+ years old belt-driven carding machine.
So in the Spring, everyone was buying up fibre and wool from Birkeland—all the things were for sale. It was sad that such a pivotal part of Vancouver’s fibre history was going to end. It was especially worrying considering The Old Lady was used by quilters, sewers, knitters, spinners, and more.
I had been given a gift certificate to Birkeland by my coworkers when I left to return to school, so I went in to use it up. My friend Carmen from MelonHead KnitWear (who taught classes at Birkeland) happened to be at the store and gladly helped me spend my certificate. I maintain that she is a ‘yarn pusher’. Here is what I bought:
Then, in April the announcement came that Birkeland was being continued by someone new with details to come. Slowly, it was revealed that the newcomer was Karyn Winters, and she would be moving the storefront, but would still be known as “Birkeland Bros” and be stocking many of the same products.
Karyn had to find a building with suitable floor for hefty The Old Lady, and eventually settled on a storefront in Abbotsford, a few doors down from Strung Out On Beads. While it is difficult for some local knitters to get to, it is great that The Old Lady and Birkeland will continue operations. (P.S. Check out the moving of The Old Lady)