Knitting in the internet age
East Lyme — A mother-and-daughter team from Waterford is bringing a new multigenerational twist to knitting with the yarn shop they just opened in Niantic.
Twist Yarn Shoppe, owned by Lisa Lord and daughter Jennifer Lord Anglim, focuses on luxury fibers to distinguish itself from major knitting suppliers such as Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric and A.C. Moore. It also is offering classes and private tutoring to would-be knitters.
But perhaps its distinguishing characteristic is that it is a "young yarn shop," said the owners, thanks to the influence of Anglim and her ability to use social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The shop even has a monitor allowing YouTube instructional videos to be played for knitters while the owners are waiting on customers.
"Knitting is the new yoga," Anglim said. "It's cool to make it yourself."
Surprisingly, the opening of Twist Yarn Shoppe comes less than a year after Dagmar Rouisse closed her knitting hub on Montauk Avenue in New London, saying she was having a hard time competing with prices offered by discounters and the internet. News of the Dagmar Yarn Shop closing spurred the mother-daughter team to act.
"It was a joke — wouldn't it be great to own a yarn shop," Lord said.
Aglim and Lord believe there is a need for a place midway between the Gold Star Memorial Bridge spanning Groton and New London and the Baldwin Bridge between Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.
And they say Rouisse has been supportive of the shop. In fact, they said she may be teaching knitting techniques there in the future.
"Our goal is to bring young crafters in and introduce them to knitting," Lord said.
Anglim said the craft classes have been popular so far, with only word of mouth and Facebook spreading the news. Two learn-to-knit classes filled up almost immediately, she said, and a third had to be added the next day.
"Now I have a waitlist," she said.
Lord said her daughter was the main impetus behind the shop, researching suppliers and working on the business plan, helped by the business mentoring group SCORE. The pair went to all the yarn shops in Connecticut and some in Rhode Island as well to get a feel for the business.
Anglim said the store features price points for everybody, but they wanted to focus on luxury fibers such as cashmere, yak, silk, wool and even camel hair. The shop, which opened Sept. 1, is leaving acrylic fibers for the discount stores.
Yarns from two local farms, in Oakdale and East Lyme, are among the hundreds of colorful offerings in the 1,100-square-foot store. Popular knitting projects these days include shawls, sweaters, hats, mittens and baby blankets, and the shop carries all the accessories and advice needed to complete these products.
"The thing about knitting is there's a ton of knitters out there," Anglim said. "It's been really busy."
The shop features a homey look with a faux fireplace and a round table where people can "stitch and bitch," as the owners joke. Renovations, featuring a barn door and a wheel-like display case, were completed by Lord's husband, Jeff, owner of Lord Construction.
"It's a fun space," Anglim said. "People are inspired."
As opposed to buying online, the owners said, Twist Yarn Shoppe offers customers the chance to have a tactile experience by holding the smooth fabric. The business has been helped, they said, by the recent closing of another yarn shop in Bozrah.
"Knitting is somewhat of a cult," Anglim said. "People come from near and far, and everyone is saying the same thing: We needed this shop here.'"
What: Twist Yarn Shoppe
Where: 180 Flanders Road, No. 2, Niantic
Who: Jennifer Lord Anglim and Lisa Lord
Hours: 10-6 Mon.-Fri.; 10-4 Sat.; 10-2 Sun.
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