Hidden treasure: Eira Thomas's Yarn emporium in the glen
By Nancy Helmuth
Sometimes, the lovliest things around us are hidden small architectural details that go unnoticed or beautful flowers in a valley less travelled. One such treasure is Eira Thomas (71), Welsh born artist, knitter and seller of exquisit yarns to connoiseurs who have known how to find her place in Glen Sutton since 1980.
Located on Burnett road, and in a house which was constructed in the late 1880s, Eira's creations can be seen in a lovely studio built for her by her late husband, internationally known furniture designer and builder Kai Paulson whose woodshop can still be seen in the basement of the home. "Kai made all the furniture in the house and in the addition which houses four tastefully decorated warm small apartements which friends and acquaintances rent for small vacations, weekends or bicycle outings".
Of late, Eira has curtailed her knitting to special editions and custom work, but has focused her energy into "Yarn Art", finely crafted pictures and harmonious creations of yarns and textiles, glowing through their three dimensional effects.
Eira arrived in Montreal in 1974 and immediately had huge amounts of work in her original profession as floral designer."It was a magic time, a gay time" she smiles, Montreal at that time was a gracious and fun place, huge parties were given, the great hotels kept us busy with the flower arrangements and we worked for all the great houses. It was such an open beautiful time. At night we would meet at the "Bistro" on Mountain street, a hangout for immigrants of many countries and a place for us to exchange views and make friends".
Her mother died, and Eira had to liquidate her mother's knitting business, which started the second vocation in her life and she eventually started focusing on this, but first she spent two years at the Montreal Star newspaper as an advertising executive for retail and national advertising. After the "Star" folded in 1978, she worked for the glossy Montreal Calendar Magazine. Having married Kai Paulson who at that time was designing furniture for companies such as Scandia Furniture and who was honored for his work at the international furniture exhibition in Milan, they moved to his house in Glen Sutton where he established the existing shop pretty much for his own use and the building of exquisite pieces which now are in the house.
The yarn shop and knitting studio started then and has been in business ever since. "I used my own money, the severance pay from the "Star" to start my business - a lot of the other girls just spent it". For more than 20 years Eira also participated in the annual "Tour des Arts" and sadly, last year her husband died four days before the opening of the "Tour". Friends helped out and kept the doors open, and eventually, this indomitable creative knitter went back to her craft and is certainly open for business, with thousands of yarns, some exotic, many "free trade" from South America, all gleaming in their neat racks which Kai so lovingly built.