Knitters have new source for yarn

Published 5:54 am Monday, October 8, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Amy Smerekanich loves her dog Purl. So much, that she takes her to work with her and even named her business after her.
"Yes, that's where the name Red Purl came from," she said.
The "Red" comes from the breed of dog, which is a Red Heeler. Purl, obviously is her name. But Smerekanich didn't open a pet store, instead, she opened a knitting shop and Purl is by her side every day.
"I wanted a job that would allow me to take her to work, but how many places actually allow that? Not many," she said.
A former teacher, Smerekanich knew she couldn't bring her four-legged friend to the classroom, so she began looking at other options.
"I had thought about opening my own business, but really wasn't sure how to go about doing it. I had two ideas in mind – one a knitting shop and the other involved food – but I knew I couldn't have my dog in a business that had food, so this is what I did," she explained.
Smerekanich began researching and found out she was able to apply for a grant for a small business. During the process, she had to write down her exact business idea.
"They liked it, because I was awarded the grant," she said.
Smerekanich said her shop has primarily high-end yarns and she has an emphasis on small, independent yarn companies. She purchases local yarn and even some of the features in her store are from local individuals.
"I like to incorporate as much local flavor as possible," she said.
Red Purl also offers a number of different classes, ranging from beginners to those who enjoy knitting on a daily basis.
"There's something for everyone. Everybody can bring their own flavor the the table," she said.
A few classes have already begun, but there are more coming up during the month of October.
Some classes include the Felted Pumpkin and Beginning Socks, which both require some experience.
"People can call for information or I have my classes listed on my Web site (, which is updated all the time," she said.
Smerekanich's love for knitting came eight years ago when she starting knitting with her mom. "It was something that I really enjoyed at the time. I had no idea it would take me to where I am today," she said.
Smerekanich currently lives in South Bend. She was born and raised there, but later moved to Brooklyn, NY.
Upon her return to the area, she moved to Michigan and returned back to her roots of South Bend, Ind.
She said Niles is a city she has always been interested in and when the idea of opening her own business came about, she knew this was where she wanted it to be.
"I really like the downtown and a lot of the stores – Veni's, Brew Ha Ha, County Down – what's there not to like about it? It has character and characters and that's something that has always drawn me to Niles," she said.
Before opening her business, Smerekanich said she had no expectations whatsoever.
"You can't have any when you start your own business, plus I really didn't know what to expect, but so far I am very pleased. Since the first day I opened my doors people have been coming in. It seems a lot of people around here are interested in knitting and I would like to be able to integrate a community of knitters in the area," she said.
For more information on Red Purl, 207 N. Second St., Niles, or to sign up or get information on classes, call 684-0611 or visit
Business hours are Monday and Tuesday, noon to 7 p.m., Thursday noon to 9 p.m., Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. The shop is closed on Wednesdays.