Adventures in knitting: Lesson 3

Published 1:42 pm Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Purl offers knitting classes as well as a wide variety of fabric, needles and other supplies. Photo by Kathleen Dayle Schwarz


Blue Star Highway

Kelsey and I had such a great time hanging out at the Red Purl in Niles that we wanted to share our experience with Off the Water. After our final knitting lesson, we sat down to talk about the adventure.

Kathleen: So Kelsey, how did you find out about the Red Purl? What made you go into the shop in the first place?

Kelsey: I’m in the Niles area a lot and I am also always on the lookout for new places to explore in the southwest Michigan area. So one day when I ventured off the main drag and walked down Second Street I peeked in Red Purl’s windows and fell in love. From the knit sheep in the front window to the rustic mismatched chairs, the place was just my style. Well designed, but vintage and rustic at the same time! Amazing! So since you jumped at the idea of joining me in this adventure, what were your initial thoughts when I asked you to take knitting classes with me?

Kathleen: I had been interested in re-learning to knit since last summer when my grandma gave me her vintage knitting needles. I kind of had someone teaching me bits and pieces, but I didn’t have the opportunity to see her very often so I got lazy about it. I liked the idea of taking a class because I personally do really well learning alongside other people. When others are working on the same cool project, it motivates me to keep going with it.

Kelsey: Yeah, the idea of taking a class to learn this was something that was very exciting and intriguing. Since graduating from college, this was the first time I’d taken a class purely to learn something for my own personal enrichment and it was a great feeling — almost like an adventure! So what makes knitting feel adventurous to you?

Kathleen: I agree with you that it’s enriching to take time for yourself just to do something purely for your own enjoyment. It can also be somewhat intimidating to learn something new for the first time. But once you start — you step into the shop, you browse through patterns, feel the textures and get inspired by the colors — that’s when you realize that the possibilities for what you can make are truly endless! That’s where the adventure comes in. With this last lesson, I learned to read a basic pattern and to cable — who knew cabling was so easy and looked so awesome? Also, knitted projects make great gifts for friends. Are you working on anything now?

Kelsey: I am in the middle of two projects right now. I started one during our last class when I learned how to purl, and that is probably my favorite one so far. I wasn’t ready to start a new project, but I saw this crazy multicolored, randomly textured yarn that was absolutely beautiful and I knew I had to make something with it. It was a perfect example of how inspiring this place can be! Speaking of inspiring, Amy has a bunch of other great classes she offers! Would you be game for some more lessons anytime soon?

Kathleen: Absolutely! We took the “Beginner’s Luck” class and there are a whole pile of other classes offered. Another popular (and free) one is the “Block of the Month.” At the “Block Party,” as I like to call it, you make one square each month using a different kind of stitch — so within a year (12 blocks) you have a whole blanket of different colors and textures — great to cuddle into when you indulge in a good book on a rainy day. What classes are you interested in?

Kelsey: “Little Felted Animals!” She has these things around her shop and I am so in love with them. I can’t wait to learn how to make some of my very own. I was thinking a felted, fat little hippo might be fun?

Kathleen: She has so many more classes available for both experienced and inexperienced knitters alike. You can check out the shop at 207 North Second St. in Niles, and the website ( has a listing of all the classes currently offered and the shop’s hours. Visit the Red Purl for a knitting experience you can’t get anywhere else!