Fascinated by other people’s creative path, we recently started to ask LYS owners with whom we’ve been working to share some of their experiences on the blog. Today, meet Pearl Chin, owner and founder of Knitty City in NYC!
We’ve known Pearl for a long time, Jean-François and I; Knitty City was one of the first shops that we did business with in the US! She knows the fiber industry so well, she quickly became a reference to me. She gives great advice. When she founded Knitty City, it was not just about opening a LYS, it was also about building a community. It can be seen through the beautiful space she created at the store, as well as her involvement in her neighbourhood and her city, New York. She was successful in sharing her vision with her staff, who are all warm, helpful people.
Pearl is celebrating Knitty City’s 10th anniversary, and we are helping her to do so having created 10 exclusive, limited edition colorways on Stella our sparkly fingering weight! We are so happy to be able to celebrate this milestone with her. They are available in-store or trough phone or email orders. Happy anniversary, Knitty City!
How did you get into knitting/crocheting?
I’ve always loved working with my hands. My mother did too – designing, knitting and crocheting many of our sweaters without using any patterns. I couldn’t learn from her because her hands were quick, and she didn’t know the English terminology. She was also an excellent cook, but I couldn’t translate her pinches, handfuls, teacups into teaspoons, liters etc.
When I was pregnant with my daughter in 1977, I picked up Barbara Walker’s Learn-To-Knit-Afghan Book in hardback for $6.00. After knitting 40 squares using different techniques, I considered myself an intermediate knitter and had a beautiful blanket to show for it. I then discovered Mon Tricot, a wonderful French magazine with all sorts of knitting and crocheting projects that I wanted to make.
How did you turn your craft into a business?
I had a previous wholesale origami business called A Thousand Cranes that I started in 1989. I had learned origami from The Friends of the Origami Center of America (now Origami USA) at the American Museum of Natural History. I also made scarves, and other items from kimono fabrics. I sold through museum stores, high-end gift shops, and craft fairs throughout the US and internationally for 15 years. After 9/11, business had slowed, and I decided to take up knitting as a hobby. When I was on Knitter’s Review and knitty.com, I discovered a “community” that reminded me of the community that my parents had established in Houston, Texas where they had a grocery store. I knew intuitively that I could create an environment to support a knitting community, once I had a physical space.
My knitting skills were rusty, so I searched for a good beginner’s book. For me, nothing beats Walker’s Afghan book. But in 2006, I had to pay $20 for the paperback version!
What three words best define your shop?
Fun, Inspirational, Supportive.
Why do people go in?
People come because of our well-deserved reputation, our welcoming space, the colorful overflowing shelves, and the variety of yarns.
Why do people go back?
People come back because they like our yarn, and they love our helpful staff.
Describe what a great day is like in your shop.
Every day is a great day at Knitty City! We see people of all ages, and from all over the world. We see babies, kids, and pets. Friends, families, and the “regulars”. There are always stories to share, and always one to bring home at the end of the day.
Tell me where to go before or after stopping in your shop.
On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, there are lots of places to explore on foot. On a good day, nothing beats a walk around Central Park. Culturally, we have the American Museum of Natural History, and The New York Historical Society. Food-wise, there are Levain Bakery, Zabar’s, Alice’s Teacup, Sugar ‘n Plumm, Voila Chocolat, Nice Matin, Irving Farm
Thank you so much Pearl for everything that you do! Now that you mentionned all those yummy food places, we have to come visit soon!