It's 9 a.m. on a recent Thursday. Morning light floods into a glass storefront, illuminating a dozen or so knitters gathered around three white tables. Everyone is chatting and working on individual projects. This knit-in is already warm and fuzzy.
The five owners of the Tucson Yarn Co. met at a knit-in at another Northwest Side yarn store that closed in May. Their store opened on Sept. 20 at the southeast corner of North Oracle and West Orange Grove roads.
"We were all doing different things," said co-owner Ava Blank, "But, we thought … can we give this up?"
The camaraderie, so tightly woven during past knit-ins, became the catalyst that led the five to open the store together.
"Just loving to knit is not enough to have a successful business," said Cyd Engel, co-owner, creative director and store manager. "You have to love the business side of it."
Oddly enough, the combined skills and experience of all five women were exactly what a new business needed to get started. Ava Blank, 47, has a background in business and marketing. Engel, 50, has an art degree and has worked in several positions for different museums. Nancy Burgess, 61, brought a financial background to the table. Laraine Brokaw, 59, is an attorney. Bette Taylor, 64, has a customer service background.
Knit-in regular Karen Erenberg started knitting almost a year ago when her mother died and left behind an unfinished scarf. Engel was working at the now defunct store and helped her finish it. That experience marked the beginning of a new hobby for Erenberg, who is 51.
"It's so much fun. It's so relaxing. It's a good trip hobby," she said.
Customers can choose from a variety of yarns from around the world, along with knitting accessories and books. A concierge service helps with customized patterns, yarn substitutions and special orders. The knit doctor program offers one-on-one help to learn a particular skill or to diagnose why a project has gone wrong. Group classes are also offered.
"We wanted to have a comfortable place, a welcoming place and different types of yarns. Lots of possibilities for the creative process," said Engel.
Three comfy chairs arranged near the back of the store offer an alternate knitting spot. Blank said the chairs attract husbands and knitters who need a quiet place to concentrate on a project.
Yarn colors and textures drew Thea Bennett, 51, to knitting. "The staff is so patient and so easy to talk to. They make it easy," she said, "I'm making my first pair of socks and I'm jazzed about it."
The Tucson Yarn Co.
Address: 6336 N. Oracle Road, Suite 302.
Phone number: 229-YARN (229-9276)
Owners: Cyd Engel, Nancy Burgess, Ava Blank, Laraine Brokaw and Bette Taylor.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday.
Online at: www.tucsonyarn.com.
Knit-ins: 8:30-10 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday.