Beginnings: The Origin of Tinking Turtle

As we bring 2013 to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the path we’ve taken to get where we are this year.  The holiday season is often a time spent with friends and family, each with their own special traditions and holiday moments.  For my family, one of our favorite traditions is setting up a model train layout in the garage, all decorated up for Christmas, and spend hours driving the trains through our small town.  In this town, it’s important for everything to have a name, from the grocery store named after my younger brother to the boarding house and bakery.  This has been a tradition that Jennifer and I have carried on through the years.

Trains and naming things have found their way into our lives outside of just the holidays.  In September 2011 after settling in Washington, DC we embarked on our first long-distance train journey to the windy city of Chicago.  We travled for several days, including our first overnight on the train.  While in Chicago, we visited Loopy Yarns. Jennifer was just setting out on building the framework for the business that has become Tinking Turtle and, as a stitcher, she couldn’t visit the city without stopping by the store.  During the trip, the topic of discussion kept circling back to Loopy Yarns, the name, and if we had a store, what it would be named.

Over a delicious dinner of Knockwurst, Wiener Schnitzel, and Sauerkraut at The Berghoff, we began to bat around some funny names for the various buildings in our own model train town, with a yarn bent.  Grabbing the closest piece of paper at hand, a class schedule from Loopy Yarns, we recorded all of the names that came to mind.

Given that we were now living in Maryland, the turtle as a mascot came to mind, and then playing off of the alliteration, tinking was a natural fit.  I’ll confess that at that point in time I had no idea what tinking even was, but it sounded cool.  Ye Olde Tinking Turtle was originally going to be a combo yarn store/tavern, perhaps influenced by the German atmosphere, however it was a name that stuck with us.

Tinking Turtle was not the initial name for the company; Jen was contemplating running it under a company named after herself. Unfortunately however, when she was looking to register a trade name and website, there were several other businesses with similar sounding names.  Falling back to what was originally an amusing name for a train town pub, Tinking Turtle has stayed with us, becoming the business that it is today.

The Second Half of our Trip, Chicago

After we stayed a few days in New Orleans, we trained up to Chicago, where we had the day to noodle around before we caught the last leg of the train.

It ended up being a pretty nasty day, with it alternating between snow and rain, so we didn’t do as much as planned.  But we did go out for Greek food in Greektown, and we did visit one of my favorite yarn shops in Chicago, Loopy Yarns.

This was the second time I’d been to Loopy Yarns, the first being nearly five years ago.  They are right near one of the old Chicago Train Stations, which means Michael is happy visiting there.  They’ve got great places for non-stitchers who are tagging along to hang out (I’ve begun to appreciate that more).  Their yarns are organized logically, they have a great teaching space, and they have one of my favorite ways I’ve seen of organizing needles.

This time around I got to meet the owner, who I hadn’t gotten to meet last time.

I also got to avail myself of one of my favorite aspects of the store: THEY HAVE A WHOLE ROOM DEVOTED TO BOOKS.  I would go there just to page through the books, never-mind the yarn.  They have one of the best selections of books I’ve come across in my travels, second only to Webs in Northampton, MA.

I managed to pickup The New Tunisian Crochet, which I’ve been eyeing since it came out.  (It’s worth it by the way!  Go out and get!)

I fondled several of the new yarns that are in – glad to see some of my favorites are carried even as far as Chicago.

So thank you Loopy Yarns, for making my day in Chicago better despite the weather.

Michael, who loves me.

Michael: Is there a reason there is a bag in the scanner?

Me: Yes.

Michael: And that would be?

Me: I needed to scan it.

Michael: Ah, well that would be a good place for it.

Note to Michael: Just don’t ask questions.  It’s easier that way.

This was what I was scanning:

It’s part of a secret project, but I can tell you that it’s because I really love Loopy Yarns, and would make it my home if I was in Chicago.  Seriously.  They take cute sheep to a whole new level.