Good morning, readers! This past week, I got a chance to talk to the owners of Knitting Off Broadway, a captivating yarn shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana that is run by Jan and Natalie, a mother-daughter (respectively) team. Let’s check in with them about their inspiration, their shop, and their partnership.
Photo © Knitting Off Broadway
Neighbor Jillian: Jan and Natalie, thank you both for joining me today! *gestures for them to sit down* I know you two are very busy, so let’s get down to business! *hands them both coffee*
Jan & Natalie: Thank you for interviewing us!
Neighbor Jillian: You are very welcome! I find it so exciting to get to know other fiber lovers. I think the best place to start is at the beginning, so can you tell us your “knitting history”? I am especially curious because I know you are a mother-daughter team. How did that come about? Who taught whom to knit, and how did you end up opening a shop together?
Natalie: I learned to knit during an elective class when I was a freshman in high school. On the advice of my teacher, mom and I visited a “real” knitting store called Cass Street Yarn Depot and fell in love the minute we walked in! The beauty of the old train depot, the colors, the textures, the fibers, and all the things you could make yourself! Seeing my interest in this new hobby fueled, my parents gave me knitting classes as a birthday present, and mom would drive me there every Saturday.
Jan: Waiting for her every Saturday amid all the yarn, I began to get inspired. After a while, I decided I wanted to knit again (I did some knitting in high school for 4-H projects, but that was many years ago!), so I also took lessons at the Yarn Depot.
Natalie: While in college, I worked at Northampton Wools in Northampton, MA, and learned a lot about knitting and running a yarn store from the owner, Linda Daniels. Just after finals in May 2007, mom broke the news to me that our beloved Yarn Depot was closing after many years.
Jan: Instead of being upset, Natalie looked at this news as an opportunity for us to open a yarn store of our own, and, less than six months later, Knitting Off Broadway opened for what we hope is a long run!
Natalie and Jan busily stocking the store. (I do believe I spy the Spud & Chloë Trifecta Scarf in this photo!) Photo © Knitting Off Broadway
Neighbor Jillian: What a cool story! I love how you both influenced each other throughout the years, and that the end result is a culmination of your shared interests. Now that we know how your shop came to be, can you tell me more about the shop itself? *hands out cookies and refreshes coffee*
Natalie: We wanted our shop name to be different from all other stores in the country and be nice to say every time we picked up the telephone. When we found our location just one-half block off Broadway, which is on the western edge of the downtown area and one of the main roads in Fort Wayne, we decided “Knitting Off Broadway” was perfect. It not only revealed the location of the store, but it sounded like a production. It also gave us flexibility, as “Off Broadway” could be anywhere, even if we moved, since all plays are off Broadway unless they are in NYC.
Jan: After two years at that old location, that flexibility was appreciated, as we then moved to our permanent home in a renovated stand-alone 1888 commercial brick building on Broadway (though we kept the “Off Broadway” name).
This was taken in the 1930′s when the Interurban (a type of electric railway) was in use. Photo © Knitting Off Broadway
Natalie: The restoration was a 14-month labor of love, and renovations included tin ceilings, ceiling fans, schoolhouse lights, leaded glass transoms, finished oak wood floors, and brick walls. All of these things give our shop a lot of character, as do the yarns of natural fibers, needles, buttons, and accessories displayed in or on antique furniture pieces throughout the store.
What a charming interior! (I especially love the tin ceilings!) Photo © Knitting Off Broadway
Neighbor Jillian: It sounds absolutely beautiful and cozy! Is the whole neighborhood as charming and historical?
Jan: Yes! It is unique because the neighborhood has a truly downtown vibe, a variety of stores (from an office furniture store to a firefighters’ union in a restored fire station to a Starbucks), and even some residential housing, yet it is far away from the new establishments, which helps keep the old timey character.
Neighbor Jillian: You guys all seem to have such fun! Just recently I heard that you had a Blue Sky Alpacas Yarn Tasting that you paired with breakfast time! How did you come up with such a fun idea?
Natalie: Well, in the past we have hosted yarn and wine tastings and “Breakfast with Blue Sky” evolved from that. The idea actually came to me as I was waiting in line at the nearby Starbucks! I like coffee just as much as wine, so why not?
Jan: The Breakfast filled up really fast! There will be 15 people attending for coffee, muffins, fruit, and yarn. Each person will knit with a ball of a different color (which in Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight isn’t hard to do!). We hope it will be a fun morning; knitting before your day really gets going is always a great thing!
Such a warm and inviting place to relax and play with yarn! Photo © Knitting Off Broadway
Neighbor Jillian: Do you think you might have a Spud & Chloë Yarn Tasting in the future?
Natalie: We would love to do a Spud & Chloë tasting, too! Maybe “Sittin’ with Spud” or something, with the two knit up. It would be very cute!
Neighbor Jillian: Well, ladies, it has been such a pleasure talking with you! I had fun learning how your journeys led you to where you are today. *turns to look at readership* And, thank you, readers, for joining us, as well! Stop by in person, if you can, and check out their selection of both Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas yarns. And, even if you don’t live in near Fort Wayne, you can still visit this dynamic duo by popping over to Facebook or their web site, Knitting Off Broadway.