After opening In Stitches with her husband, Tom, in Lexington in 1976, Jean Holtey moved the needle arts supply business from suburb to suburb before settling in Weston about 20 years ago. A member of the Clever Hand Gallery artisans cooperative in Wellesley, she sells yarns, threads, trims, and kits, and also has original knitting pattern designs available at www.ravelry.com.
Q. How did you get started knitting?
A. My granny, Bertha, was a lovely lady of Scottish descent who was thrifty and taught me to knit with the drab olive, scratchy wool left over from the Red Cross during World War II. If I hadn’t later found all the wonderful shades of blue yarn in Woolworth’s, I probably wouldn’t be knitting today. I learned the other needle arts from my mom, and I’ve been self-taught from then on.
Q. Is there hope for those who didn’t learn as children?
A. Anyone can learn! We like beginners because they don’t know any mistakes we have to undo. And it’s fun. There’s nothing like getting a bunch of knitters and needlepointers together. We immediately become old friends.
Q. Do you worry that the needle arts are disappearing?
A. I don’t think they’re a lost art, but it’s a very cyclical business. What’s changed dramatically is the wonderful fibers and pattern accessibility, which have become much more choice and interesting.
Q. What has kept you in business for 39 years?
A. Nobody does any of these things because they have to, but because they want to and love it. That makes it a wonderful business to be in. Also, it’s very soothing. There are basic stitches you can do while you zone out, and more challenging ones that get the brain cells going. All the colors and fibers are an adventure.
Q. What is your favorite project?
A. I particularly like baby sweaters. It’s fun knitting them, and there is nothing better than to go to a baby shower and have everyone say, ‘Aww, you made that?’ My only grandchild lives in Hawaii, so no knitting for him. I think that’s why I’ve designed so many baby sweaters, from the pent-up need to knit lovely little things. But he’s a dear, and I don’t care at all that he doesn’t wear sweaters.
In Stitches is at 454 Boston Post Road in Weston. For classes, call 781-891-4402 or visit www.institchesweston.com.
Cindy Cantrell may be reached at email@example.com.