Maker + Stitch brings multi-generational crafters together through Edwards yarn shop and community space
Special to the Daily
In Iceland, the summer sun shines on past midnight to illuminate a landscape of fire and ice. Volcanoes rumble with molten lava in their bellies while nearby glaciers snap and pop before calving into crystal waters. In such a wild landscape, two women once went to hike — and knit. And they came home to Vail with an equally exciting vision for Maker+Stitch, the destination yarn shop and knitting hub at Edwards Corner that has been open since December 2017.
Maker+Stitch owners Cathryn Cooper and Liza Alrick both fueled their love of knitting on separate weeklong Icelandic knitting journeys supported by a tour outfitter that attracts knitters from across the globe. When Cooper saw photos of Alrick’s trip, she decided to go to Iceland herself. Within a month after returning home, she contacted Alrick to discuss a business plan, and Maker+Stitch opened its doors in Edwards less than five months later as a yarn shop and launchpad for the Vail version of its owners’ Iceland-inspired knitting adventures.
Knitting People Together
In its second year of business, Maker+Stitch has grown into a vibrant community center where knitting enthusiasts and wannabes gather in a cozy space that feels more like a living room than a store. Plush couches encircle a fireplace, and colorful skeins of yarn line the walls. Knitting needles and other tools of the trade are available for purchase, along with gifts and artisan goods that appeal to knitters and non-knitters alike.
With yarns that range from Colorado-sourced to rare finds, Maker+Stitch’s offerings supply a practical purpose. But along with such practicality has come some surprising results. As it turns out, knitters like to talk to other knitters when they’re learning a new skill, or when they get stuck or when they just need company. So Maker+Stitch has grown into a buzzing social sphere where people get together for workshops and knit-alongs that foster conversation, new friendships and unity at a time when it’s easy to isolate behind technology.
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“The shop is a safe space where people of different backgrounds and different political views can come to connect over a shared interest with knitting as the focus,” Alrick said. “People tell their stories, and we discover what unites us. We hear of deaths, births and injuries. It’s amazing how a community will rise to the occasion and support those who are knitting beside them.”
Benefits for Body, Mind, and Soul
Besides being an activity that inspires community, knitting’s benefits extend to the body, mind and soul. As outlined in the book “Craftfulness: Mend Yourself by Making Things” by Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin, knitting and other crafts can be energizing, balancing, and purpose-filled. These activities foster a mindset and a way of being that the book’s authors call “craftfulness.” Central to the concept is the participation in an activity such as knitting that “has wider benefits and implications for one’s well-being and happiness.”
Maker+Stitch’s owners see the many benefits of knitting firsthand.
“Knitting is like learning a new language,” Cooper said. “It requires new skills like figuring out how to read and follow a pattern. It challenges hand-eye coordination and appeals to different learning styles.”
And while knitting is a cross-generational activity, it’s especially good for older adults who are looking for activities that are mentally and physically stimulating. Knitting’s benefits have the power to influence men and women equally. While more females than males currently gather at Maker+Stitch, all events are open to men. Male woodworkers, carpenters, and those who work with their hands already likely have some skills that can transfer successfully into knitting a first scarf or an eventual sweater.
“Knitting is a way for people to connect across generations and across the world,” Cooper said.