Brenda Johannessen, a former culinary teacher in the Clark County School District, has always wanted to open her own knitting and crocheting shop.
On May 1 she finally got the chance.
Unwind Knitting, at 10545 S. Eastern Ave. in Henderson, offers a variety of hard-to-find luxury yarn and accessories, and an array of classes for every level of knitter or crocheter from beginners to seasoned pros.
“It’s therapeutic,” Johannessen said about knitting and crocheting. “And it’s nice to have a talent that I can give to other people.”
Johannessen added that her customers vary in age and experience.
“People have come in who want to learn as well as those who haven’t knitted for years,” she said. “The younger generation is intrigued and for others, memories come about when they knit.”
Mary Colucci, executive director of the North Carolina-based Craft Yarn Council, a nonprofit trade association that promotes education and represents major yarn companies, needles and supplies manufacturers and magazine and book publishers, said knitting and crocheting has increased in popularity.
“We estimate that there are at least 35 million people who currently knit and crochet,” Colucci said, “which is the biggest increase that we’ve seen and I think that the younger generation’s appreciation for hand work and individualizing what they do and make has put a great value on that.
“Overall, I’d say that while there’s nothing against us older folks who are involved, younger people in particular have found that knitting and crocheting is a wonderful hobby to relieve stress and that it’s a great social activity to do with friends,” she added. “It brings together people from a lot of different backgrounds.”
Colucci advised that offering a wide range of classes and opening the store to the community could help Unwind Knitting thrive.
“The more classes they can offer the better and by making their store a gathering point, inviting both new and existing knitters and crocheters to come into the store is a wonderful way to introduce what the store’s specialty might be,” she said. “Creating an atmosphere where people come back again is invaluable. There’s great information on the Internet, but there’s nothing like having someone work with you one-on-one to get you started and give you the confidence to keep going.”
Before opening her 1,200-square-foot shop, Johannessen wanted to build relationships within the community. So she opened a pop-up shop at the Stitch Factory, a downtown studio that lets designers work together, produce their work and perfect their craft through education. She also sought help from Las Vegas-based SCORE, a nationwide nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs.
“After I left my pop-up shop, I had no idea how to open a business,” Johannessen said. “Having that wealth of knowledge from SCORE was priceless.”
Less than 5 miles away from Johannessen’s store, at 2185 Windmill Lane, stands Sin City Knit Shop, opened two years ago by Debbi McCarty to fill the void in the knitting and crocheting community.
“This area didn’t have anything and I felt it needed it and that it could be supported,” she said. “Within one year of opening, I had to move to another location to triple my space.”
McCarty said she was overjoyed to hear that Unwind Knitting was opening.
“When they opened, I went to meet Brenda,” McCarty said. “For her to be successful, she needs to listen to people, be accommodating of their needs, be willing to show and teach, and stick it out because this town could use more than one yarn shop.”
Johannessen said she’s looking forward the future of her store, which she runs seven days a week with her bichon frisé, Frappy.
“I vowed to myself that I would please my customers but not go over the top with my inventory and provide a sense of community and warmth,” she said. “As long as I meet the needs of my customers, I know it’ll grow in time.”
Contact reporter Ann Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391. Follow @AnnFriedmanRJ on Twitter.