I want to thank Joy Hampton and the Claremore Daily Progress for allowing me to post the article from the paper. I thought it was an excellent story, but I might be a little bias. I wasn't able to get the pictures, but here's the story. Enjoy!
A place to Unwind...
Women share winter yarns, avoid unraveling during times of stress
By JOY HAMPTON
If the cold weather and holiday stresses are getting you down, there’s a new place to unwind in Nemar Shopping Center in Claremore.
Teresa Harmon dreamed Unwind yarn shop into existence. It is a place where friends old and new can gather with their yarn in a unique community of knitters and crocheters.
Harmon had been unwilling to quit her full-time job with benefits to follow her dream of having a yarn shop. Fate intervened when she was laid off after 10 years on the job. A merger of two branches of the company where she was employed made her position obsolete.
“I was no longer needed,” said Harmon.
In a move as bold as some of the modern yarn colors she uses to create her many pieces of functional artwork, Harmon sunk her 401 K into starting a yarn store in Claremore. It’s not the first, Harmon says there was another years ago, but it’s the first yarn store in Claremore in many, many years.
“I sunk it all in here,” she said, and gestured at the comfy sofa and chairs, shelves of yarn, and walls of needles and other accessories. “I decided, it’s now or never.”
The yarn store opened Dec. 1 and has already become a haven for a small group of women who are ready and willing to welcome more into their fold.
Pam Cantwell loves the soft fibers, colorful projects and friendship of other knitters and crocheters.
“I come to hang out and knit and buy yarn,” said Cantwell and she loops a strand of hot pink yarn over her bamboo needles. “It becomes an addiction but it’s a fun addiction. I learned to knit about five years ago. Ever since, I’ve been going crazy at it.”
She said she likes to sit, knit, talk and unwind.
Which is, of course, the point, said Harmon.
Lynn Emanuel said she was excited to find the new store. She is rediscovering her talent for crochet. During her college years, Emanuel inherited her grandmother’s crochet items and became very involved in creating all types of projects.
“They used to call me Grandma in college because I crocheted so much,” said Emanuel.
Then, when her children came along, she found her hands too full for the crochet hook and put it down.
For a time, that old love was forgotten.
Now with her children nearly grown, Emanuel is rediscovering her lost art. And she’s also learning to knit, courtesy of Harmon who offers private and public lessons as well as tidbits of free casual advice for anyone who happens along and stays to knit.
Harmon said Emanuel’s story is a common one. Often modern women learn to knit or crochet then put it aside when life gets busy. Many are carrying on the tradition of their grandmothers, but with new, modern yarns and accessories that have revolutionized the art.
“My grandmother taught me to cast on stitches when I was three,” said Harmon. “I would cast on and take them off again.
“When I was five, she let me have two needle. I actually started knitting. At 12, I taught myself to crochet. I thought it was faster. I made baby blankets and booties and gave them to the neighbors. It was all squares.”
Harmon has always enjoyed giving her handmade products away. She says that way two people get to share in the pleasure, herself in making the project, and the recipient of her gift.
“I quit after my kids were born,” said Harmon.
Then one day she was visiting her mother in Colorado. There were knitting needles with a project started on them.
“I picked them up and just started knitting,” she said.
It turned out there was a local yarn shop in the area and her mother was taking lessons. Harmon and her sister Leigh Ann Bump rushed to the store and bought yarn.
“We became completely addicted to knitting,” said Harmon.
“My friend Terry got me excited about it again,” said Emanuel.
Harmon said the best thing about knitting and crocheting is the friendly, helpful people.
Cantwell adds that it’s therapeutic.
“It’s like a quilting bee, bringing people together,” said Emanuel.
Some days women stop by and just hang out and knit or crochet, said Harmon. On Friday evenings, she reopens the store at 7 p.m. Women bring snacks and show up in comfy clothes like sweats or even pajamas. They knit and swap stories and advice until they’re tired and go home.
“It’s almost like a slumber party but we don’t sleep here,” laughed Harmon.
Cantwell is working on a baby blanket.
“The minute I found out I was going to be a grandmother, I came right up here and bought yarn and started,” she said.
Harmon said there was a knitting revival in 2004.
“It’s not just grandmas,” she said. “I’ve got college age girls that come in here. I hear all the stories.”
Unwind Yarn Shop is modeled after the one in Colorado that inspired Harmon to pick up her art again, Edla’s Yarn Shop.
Harmon and Bump met Edla after their mother told them about the yarn shop. They still visit her regularly.
“Now she’s our Aunt Edla,” said Bump.
Edla is originally from the Faroe Islands, an island group that lies between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean about half the distance between Scotland and Iceland. Growing up in the cold farming community, female children like Edla were required to knit a sweater sleeve a day.
“They could knit while playing kickball,” said Harmon.
Knitting, the sisters believe, is in Edla’s blood. Her yarn shop inspired Harmon to create a place of peace, harmony and knitting all her own in Claremore.
Many of the yarns carried by Harmon at Unwind Yarn Shop are all natural fibers such as wool, alpaca, and cotton.
Acrylic blends are machine washable and available in a wide array of styles, textures, and colors. Some yarns are extremely soft. Some have sparkle.
Very soft, skinny thread on tiny needles is used to make socks.
Sock knitting has become popular and many want the best, softest yarns available for their feet, said Harmon. A yarn made from bamboo keeps feet from sweating, while a variety of stylish variegated colors allow the knitter to create argyle socks or socks with stripes.
Knitting and crocheting can be a solitary pastime, but it can also be about community, said Harmon. A barn raising quilt is made of different colored patches. The idea is for each person to contribute a different square, each of a designated size, to the project. The squares are then blocked and sewn together.
A traveling scarf is also a group project. Harmon has created her fair share of them with friends across the country she met online. Each knitter in the group starts a scarf then mails it to the next person on the list. Each contributes a stripe or block to the scarf. When finished, each participant has a multicolor scarf made by several people.
Harmon said she is grateful to have the opportunity to make her dream a reality. She hopes her yarn shop can be a place for people to come together and unwind from the stresses of life. She also wants to pass on her art to a new generation of knitters and crocheters.
I didn't forget how to knit...
1 week ago