Get hooked on Knitting at Wasatch and Wool
July 29, 2016
"Yarn is like wine," says Margaux Kelleher, owner of Wasatch and Wool yarn boutique in Kimball Junction. Just as one traces the regional flavors of a fine Merlot, Kelleher can feel the hints of Bolivian alpaca, New Zealander Merino and English Wensleydale in a single skein.
Stepping into Kelleher's shop is like opening into a treasure chest full of rainbows.
The luscious rows of exotic yarn are as touchable as stuffed animals on the raw wooden shelves.
When Kelleher decided to open Wasatch and Wool, she wanted to create an inviting, feel for all who enter. A table sits in the middle of the room resembling a holiday dinner table for local knitters come to share stories and techniques.
Kelleher's love affair with the fiber arts began 12 years ago when her children were at the age when mom becomes a chauffeur. Between taking her kids from school to various sports practices, she found herself doing a lot of waiting. Kelleher felt there had to be something more worthwhile to do with the down time than playing games on her phone. When a fellow soccer mom introduced her to knitting, she was hooked.
"For me, knitting is like meditation," she says. The craft came as an escape during stressful times of the 2007 recession. Loop by loop, Kelleher finds a certain rhythm or flow state. Even as her family moved from New Jersey to Miami and eventually to Park City, knitting became a source of creativity and community.
Kelleher was amazed at the variety of things she was able to make. "It's about creating an heirloom," she says. Sure it may be cheaper and easier to grab a sweater at the mall, but that’s not the point. "You think a lot about that person while you knit them a gift," says Kelleher. When a lot of time and love goes into a piece, the recipient can feel the difference.
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The visceral feeling of the yarn also makes a big difference. Since so much time goes into each creation, "you should use a yarn that thrills you," says Kelleher.
And, it’s not hard to find a captivating yarn in her store. With a hundred brands using fibers from around the world, the hardest part is choosing just one. There are yarns made from Tibetan yak wool, Peruvian baby alpaca and pure silk from Paris.
Kelleher does her best to buy yarn from companies that abide by ethical and sustainable practices. As she grabs a fuzzy pink braid from the shelf, she points out a handwritten signature on the tag. The cursive name is the proud signature of a rural Uruguayan woman employed by a yarn cooperative.
"This company builds schools for the children of the livestock farmers in Peru," Kelleher says as she pulls at a blue spool. A new glittery yarn from India incorporates recycled saris into their products. Kelleher also supports Utah yarn companies such as Greenwood Fiberworks and Sugarhouse Woolworks.
It's the quality of the products that attracts Noel Minneci of Midway to Wasatch and Wool. Today, she's made the trip for Kelleher's advice on which yarn would be best for a delicate shawl.
Minneci has only been knitting for a year, but says after finding Wasatch and Wool, she's been "knitting like a crazy person."
"When you're a beginner, you make a lot of mistakes," says Minneci, adding, the knitting community at Kelleher's shop is always happy to help her with a new technique.
The Wasatch and Wool community has grown over the past year, gathering for the many classes offered each week. Every Saturday morning Wasatch and Wool hosts a Beginner Knitting class. Once you've been to one beginner's class, Kelleher says you'll be prepared to join the Knit-a-Long, and Knit Nights. The most popular events the shop hosts are Champagne Cast-on parties, where guests can sip while they learn new skills.
The newest Wasatch and Wool event that Kelleher is most excited about is the Wasatch and Wool "Olympic" Knitting Pentathlon. The 18-week tournament is meant to "inspire others and impress yourself," while participating in store events.
Like the five rings on the Olympic flag, there are five challenges: Support a local designer by knitting one of their patterns, try brioche or beading, make a pair of socks, experiment with colorwork, and learn a new fiber craft. Participants who complete all five earn a swag bag of custom knitting goods.
With no registration fee, the Pentathlon is solely meant to encourage creativity and friendship.
There are many reasons why people should try knitting says Kelleher. For some, knitting passes down skills from past generations. Many studies show that similar to learning a new language, knitting and other crafts strengthen the brain. But above all else, "[Knitting's] just fun," says Kelleher with a friendly smile.
Wasatch and Wool is located at: 1635 Redstone Center Dr. in Kimball Junction.
For more information please visit http://www.wasatchandwool.com/wp/events.
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