Sharing the zen of yarn


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Back in January, I decided to learn to knit. It wasn't something I'd given much consideration to in the past, but I was on a bit of a DIY kick, and my friend BethEllen, who's been knitting since 1996 and was always working on cool projects like White Sox hats and adorable sea creature mobiles, offered to teach me and two other Beacon regulars.

We declared Mondays knitting night at the bar and came in armed with needles, yarn, and a couple of lamps. I learned how to cast on, knit, purl, and finish my work. I also learned that knitting is a great way to pace your drinking, keep yourself occupied while watching TV and, most importantly, to relax while feeling creative and productive at the same time. As someone who works too many jobs, I can't tell you how badly I needed that!

Sue Jaffe, owner of Knit Nirvana, a yarn boutique that opened at 7453 W. Madison on Labor Day weekend, knows all about the contemplative quality of knitting - hence the name of her store. (Though, admittedly, when BethEllen texted me to tell me about it, I was like, "Cool, it's named after my favorite band!") She says that whenever she found herself whining about life's problems to Katherine Hegg, the woman Sue refers to as her "veep" at Knit Nirvana, Katherine would say, "You know there's a solution for that ..."

So Sue opened Knit Nirvana to share that zen solution as well as her joy of knitting and love of beautiful yarns with Forest Park. She and Katherine also bring a wealth of experience. Sue has been knitting for 46 years, since her grandmother taught her at the age of 8. Katherine learned the craft from a friend's mother 50 years ago when she was 9 years old. Her own mother taught her crochet. As Sue puts it, the two women have been "living and breathing yarn for years." They worked together at the Tangled Web, and more recently, Knot Just Knits in Oak Park. They'd been talking about opening their own store and finally, Sue says, "it just became imperative to follow our vision."

Knit Nirvana is focused on yarns that Sue and Katherine think are good quality, but aren't so high-end that they're unaffordable.

"These are yarns we truly enjoy working with," Katherine emphasized. They stock Rowan yarn because of the breadth of pattern support that company offers. It is important to them to share ideas and inspiration as well as sell supplies.

I can vouch for how welcome you will feel when you walk in, even if you're a beginner like I still consider myself to be. At this point, I've made a scarf and a hat for my mom, a hooded baby blanket for friends who had their first child in August, and I just started on my first project for myself - a skirt. I went to Knit Nirvana looking for needles and thoroughly enjoyed talking to Sue and Katherine as they knit away on their respective sweaters - Katherine's a simple pattern for the shop and Sue's one of 12 unfinished projects she is determined to complete this year.

They host an open-knitting night on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be offering a variety of classes this fall that range from beginning knitting and crochet to more specific projects such as a baby sweater and an Irish Newsboy cap for the more experienced folks. Some of the classes begin as early as next week, so drop by the store or call 771-5232 to reserve your spot.

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