Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stitch Therapy

Since November 1st, 2009, Stitch Therapy has moved to its new location on 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets (335 5th Avenue)--still in Brooklyn :-).

This week I went to Stitch Therapy (176 Lincoln Place
Between 7th & 8th Avenues Brooklyn, NY 11217, 718.398.2020,, in Park Slope. The store is right off of 7th Avenue, across from a lovely little coffee shop. The walk from the 7th Avenue B train stop was very short, but also very sweet. I love this neighborhood, with all of its brownstone buildings and churches on every block. I entered the store and spotted the owner immediately. Maxcine was standing behind the counter, bent over the computer with two other women. They were passionately discussing something, but ended the conversation abruptly to help me and another woman who was walking in right behind me. I asked Maxcine if it was okay to take pictures and started photographing the store, which was not so easy because it was very busy. Stitch Therapy is a small space, but it is filled with a very nice selection of high quality yarns. I was really impressed with the softness of Prime Alpaca, which is not a brand I have seen before. “That yarn is the softest and the cheapest yarn I have in the store,” Maxcine said. “It has very long yardage and is extremely good quality." I had a hard time putting it down.

Another shelf that magically attracted me was the Punta yarn shelf. I had not seen their lace weight yarn yet. It is very soft, and the colors are truly beautiful. Behind me, Brandy, the store manager, was helping out a few different customers. She was very bubbly and knew her stuff. Maxcine was busy getting ready for an event on Saturday, part of the New York Yarn Crawl. The event at Stitch Therapy is a book reading of the book “The Adventures of Miss Flitt", A 19th Century Mystery in Four Parts, written by Beth Hahn. The book includes a story, knitwear design (patterns), and water colors, and it looked rather beautiful. The reading will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 10th.

When Maxcine had a moment, I asked her my seven (or rather eight) questions.

Me: How long has this store been here?

Maxcine: 5 years.

Me: How did you choose this location?

Maxcine: There was a store here called Crystal Clover, which I liked a lot. I walked around this whole neighborhood looking for a good location for my shop. One day, I saw that there were boxes in the windows of the store, and I found out that they were moving out. I somehow thought that was kind of meant to be. Before Crystal Clover, the building housed another store named Three Peddlers. I had gone shopping there a lot, so I thought this was a really nice place to start my business. However, we are moving at the end of the month to a new location on 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets (335 5th Avenue).

Me: Who is your staff?

Maxcine: Well, there’s me and there's Brandy, who is my manager. She was here when the store opened, worked part-time during grad school, and has returned full-time for now. Brandy can knit anything I can knit. She can tell any of the customers anything I would be able to tell them. I have two teachers: Kim teaches beginning knitters, although I should probably call that “The Comic Knitting Styles of Kim.” She is so funny. I am always in stitches during her class. Tony, who writes the blog “The Yarn Monkey”, teaches our knitting learning circle. It’s not really a coffee clatsch, it’s serious knitting and instruction. We also periodically teach a series of free workshops (the yarn is purchased here and the classes are free). One very successful workshop was in the entrelac pattern. Our students made all kinds of things in entrelac afterwards. Someone made a whole blanket out of it! We’ve taught 2-at-a-time magic loop, and neck-down. We’ll also be offering a Mommy and Me evening and a men’s night.

Me: How do you choose your yarns?

Maxcine: My mother is a seamstress, so quality is very important to me. I look for softness, price, and purity of color. I search for new fiber and new spins; I am not tied to name brands. Prime Alpaca has a great price/quality ratio. Berroco is a good yarn: it holds up over time and has a lot of yardage in a ball. I like mostly bright colors, so I carry very little dark yarn.

Me: Who makes your store samples?

Maxcine: I do, and Brandy, and my teachers if they teach classes. All samples have to meet a certain standard. They have to look like you could buy them in a store. Sometimes we get samples from manufacturers, but we don’t always use them.

Me: What got you into yarns?

Maxcine: I have been knitting since I was seven. My aunt Rose taught me, and then my mother taught me to go further. After I moved to the United States (I was born in London, with Jamaican blood), I taught my junior high school teacher how to knit in shop class.

Me: Do you think people knit more or less in this economy?

Maxcine: My knitters knit regardless. My clientele are regular knitters. My products are affordable. We put baby clothes first, fashion second, but people make all kinds of things. I focus on offering good quality for a good price, and that attracts people. We started here five years ago and have now outgrown this space. The new store will be a share with a store that offers fabrics and quilting. It has a garden in the back and more space. I think it will be a great fit!

I left the store, ready to knit all knds of new things, grabbed a coffe at the cute little coffee shop, and headed uptown to meet my family. What a nice afternoon!

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