Knittin’ where you fit in

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

When Karen Smith moved to Black Mountain five years ago, she looked for ways to connect with others in her new community. Black Mountain Yarn Shop quickly helped her knit together friendships, and provide the fellowship and camaraderie around a common hobby which she needed.

She and her sisters learned to knit as girls from their mother. Now, time spent at the local downtown yarn shop is part of her weekly schedule, where she attends classes and gathers with others to learn knitting techniques and tips.

“It's such a fun family atmosphere here,” said Smith, as she took part in the shop's recent six year celebration. She holds a regular seat at the bi- weekly, no cost, Wednesday evening knitting group, along with fifteen fellow knitters.

Representing various ages and skill levels, they work on yarn projects, show and tell about their projects and learn from store owners about new yards and techniques. On the side, they form close friendships, sharing in birthday and special occasion celebrations too.

Perhaps not every business owner feels a strong passion for his subject and service, but yarn shop owners Donna and Don Farrow sure seem to from the comments of their many loyal customers. Words like “inviting, warm reception and like- a- family” were repeated over and over from different customers. Knitters themselves, the owners are involved with all aspects of the shop from leading clinics to teaching techniques and trouble-shooting.

Around four hundred regular customers showed up for the shop's six year anniversary celebration, a day filled with laughter, conversation, raffle drawings and refreshments. An iced sheep decorated the “Six Years of Fiber Fun” cake.

A little bit of knitting on projects even took place. Mostly the celebration was about the special place of importance this shop holds to the customers, who included not only locals, but those who traveled from western North Carolina locations, Greenville, SC, into Tennessee and beyond. All are regular customers of the shop.

Smith's granddaughter, eight year old Iris Parker of Black Mountain, came along to the anniversary celebration to enjoy time with grandmom. Iris started coming to the yarn shop with her grandmother as a preschooler, and has since then learned to knit. She is currently knitting a blanket to contribute to Brother Wolf animal rescue, since her family has adopted several rescue animals.

Some travel to the shop for the plentiful selection of yarns, like regular customer, Shawnee Irwin of Brevard. Others take classes or come in seeking help to fix a knitting problem. And some simply come in a sit for hours, at work on a project while enjoying the warm, inviting atmosphere there.

“There are other yard shops, but none of them have the same feel as this shop,” Irwin said.

She was part of a group of five women who traveled to Black Mountain from western NC locations on Friday, had a ladies' overnight stay at a hotel, and then celebrated at Black Mountain Yarn Shop Saturday.

Fellow knitters at the shop also take part in service projects. Hats for the homeless and ornaments for the shop's Monte Vista holiday tree display to benefit Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry were recent ones. Social opportunities like the Asheville Tourists knitting night at the ballpark also take place.

Pete Peterson is a regular customer and one of the faces most often seen at the shop. He learned to knit from his mother at age nine, and together they knitted scarves for World War Two soldiers. After a long knitting break, the retired Presbyterian minister picked the hobby back up a few years ago. He quickly fell in love with the shop.

“They help me fix mistakes when I get stuck on a project,” said Peterson. In the process of knitting, you make lots of friends of various ages, he says. “We share problems and help each other find a solution; it might be the loss of loved one or a pet.” Now, he knits to make gifts for nine family members and other special friends.

Twisted scarves, hats, bags and sweaters are some of Peterson's knitting project. Recently he made a special gift for his wife, Martha Jane Peterson. The green sweater and brown skirt he made are very similar to the outfit she was wearing when they first met.

For more information about this knitting community, visit