beststitches.jpg

Photo by Renee McMahon.

Most of us don't have a smiling grandmother in a rocking chair, adept at creating mittens galore from balls of brightly-colored

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Best Reason to Get 10-Gauge Knitting Needles

Stitches

beststitches.jpg

Photo by Renee McMahon.

Most of us don't have a smiling grandmother in a rocking chair, adept at creating mittens galore from balls of brightly-colored yarn, who can teach us to knit. But two local women are here to help. They own two very different shops operating under two distinct philosophies in neighborhoods separated by Elliott Bay. But they both want to make your journey into the land of stitched scarves, alpaca wool, and felted handbags a worthwhile experience—without or without the grandkids.

"Fresh, fabulous fashion" is the motto of Amy Ellsworth's Stitches on Capitol Hill. The window displays are funky and the selection of yarns and fabrics is quirky and small, targeted to the locals. "It's just a way to be creative and individual," Ellsworth says, sporting a blonde bob and a black baby-doll shirt.

She opened her doors four years ago after quitting a job working on e-mail marketing campaigns for Amazon.com. An avid knitter and seamstress, she had lived on the Hill for more than a decade, but had always had to traipse out of her neighborhood for sewing supplies. Finally she started her own place.

The domestic arts are enjoying a huge comeback among the 20- and 30-something DIY set, who make up most of Ellsworth's customers. There are also a handful of younger boys who come in for supplies to make their own Uglydolls, adorably hideous little stuffed monster toys. There are also some older folks on the Hill happy to have a place nearby with needles and thread.

Across the West Seattle Bridge, Virginia Bowen holds court at Yarn Gallery, advising a customer on the best threads for an upcoming project. The two women are hunched over a book of patterns in chairs tucked between racks of yarn. Unlike Stitches, Bowen's store doesn't have fabrics, just supplies for knitters and crocheters. "She's wonderful!" the very satisfied customer declares.

Bowen has several years on Ellsworth and sports the same chic bob (in grey). She has a steady trade with the matronly set, but sometimes a group of elementary-school kids takes a beginning class, and there's another geared toward men.

And she has her own hip cred. Her Web site feature, "Ask the Yarn Lady," includes answers to questions about gauges and thankless knitting-project recipients. The final one asks: "I keep catching my boyfriend in bed with other men. Do you think he's gay?"

"Yes, dear. I think so," she replies. "But we've got a whole group of ladies who you can commiserate with. Stop by any time, or join one of our Thursday night or Saturday morning Project Knitting Classes. Bring wine, or in your case, vodka."—Laura Onstot

 
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