I am devastated by the loss of Hill Country Weavers founder, Suzanne Middlebrooks.
When I moved from L.A. to Austin 20 years ago, I was a new knitter and young mom who didn’t know many people. I felt lonely, isolated, and lost in this strange Texas-place. When I needed a pick-me-up, often with toddlers in tow, I headed over to Hill Country Weavers to browse or gain some yarn-wisdom from Suzanne — who didn’t even bat an eyelash when my then 4-year-old was attempting to climb up the buttons shelves! The little house on South Congress where HCW used to live, was a refuge for me. It was like visiting an eccentric aunt’s home filled with the most glorious treasures. That same year, I started an Austin chapter of a Stitch n’ Bitch group, which I had previously started in Southern California. Due to this connection (or perhaps sensing my need for community), Suzanne asked me to introduce Debbie Stoller when she came to the shop on tour for the first of her now legendary Stitch n’ Bitch series. As a longtime fan of BUST Magazine, I was beyond honored! And, as it turned out, this would be just the first of many times that Susanne and I would low-key partner on events.
It’s kindnesses like these and relationships like the one I had with Suzanne that I consider pinnacle to my now multi-decade career as a professional knitter and crocheter. Seeing her face light up when yarn-lovers like me came into the room, I believe, was the key to the success of her iconic shop.
None of that charm was lost when they moved to a crisper, more modern location. It just evolved, like the light within Suzanne was too bright to stay in the cozy cottage it once inhabited. It needed room to breathe, and a place to shine. I am filled with gratitude that we shot a segment for my series The Knit Show, at the new location and with Suzanne who was then still full-cheeked and healthy. It is a piece of her that I will most certainly revisit.
Suzanne had been sick for a long time but had been a master at not letting the illness get in the way of her living. So, if was often unimaginable that she wouldn’t be with us for longer. Last June during an industry convention in Chicago when Susanne came over to the bar booth I was sitting at and plopped herself next to me to chat, I had no idea that it would be the last time I’d get to see her. I’m so thankful though, that when we parted ways to go back to our respective meetings, it was with a hug. Rest in purls, my friend.