LA's best knitting studios offer peace of mind
Xanax is over; knitting is in.Supposedly, yarn is as good as yoga for its ability to alleviate stress and lower blood pressure (so says the Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Institute). And of the more than four dozen stores in Los Angeles that specialize in knitting supplies and classes, a handful also provide in-house sanctuaries to practice. Some even include refreshments, although the accoutrements can be as homespun as the wool. One shop has been known to offer wine in sippy cups. As for celeb clients, what Los Angeles knitting store doesn’t have them? Some can be encouraged to brag about their customers (Knitterie Parisienne owner Edith Eig praises Catherine Zeta-Jones as “very, very gifted” and says a yarn stop almost made Debra Messing late for an awards show), but one reason famous folk love the resolutely unglamorous craft of knitting may be the retreat it provides. “So many celebrities come in here because it’s peaceful and quiet,” says Knitter’s Studio owner Liz Rowen. “I don’t want them to think that even where they go to knit, they can’t be left alone.” Knitterie Parisienne
12642 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (818) 766-1515
Sanctuary: Wednesday evenings, when knitters gather for wine, cheese, yarn and yarns. (Note: The store closes for vacation Sept. 2-19.)
No one beats Knitterie for its depth of inventory: It has perhaps twice as much yarn as any other store in Los Angeles, with a separate storage facility packed to the rafters. Lots of imported brands; Eig (author of the upcoming “Mother of Purl: Friends and Fabulous Designs at Hollywood’s Knitting Circle”) is especially fond of exotic yarns as well as high-end cashmere and merino wools. Unwind
818 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank (818) 840-0800
Sanctuary: Monthly yarn “tastings,” where knitters sample 10-12 swatches of yarn and buy favorites at a discount. Advance registration a must; tastings often sell out the day they’re posted on the Web site.
The cheery store (celery-colored walls, crisp white cubicles) has soft chairs in the front, wooden table and chairs in the back. This is where Ruth Fisher attended her knitting circle in “Six Feet Under” and it’s close to all the studios, but owner Stephanie Steinhaus is no trend-hopper; above the cash register is a photo of her as a 10-year-old, knitting with her grandmother on a New York subway car. The Knitter’s Studio
8118 W. Third St., West Hollywood (323) 655-6487
Sanctuary: A private room, often used for baby showers and birthday parties.
The store is peaceful, cozy and colorful. Rowen, former style editor at Venice magazine, likes novelty yarns as well as the basics, including fancier wools for felting classes as well as cashmeres and hand-dyed rayon. Suss Design
7350 Beverly Blvd. (323) 954-9637
Sanctuary: Project classes on the third Tuesday evening of each month. Includes a pattern as well as owner Suss Cousin’s homemade Swedish cuisine and vodka infusions.
Cousins’ work can be found in museums, Nordstrom, Saks and reruns of “The Cosby Show” (she made Bill Cosby’s sweaters). Author of three books, including “Hollywood Knits Style,” her shop has the feel of a haute Scandinavian yarn art gallery with its microfibers, handpainted mohair and cashmeres. Stitch Café
12443 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood (818) 980-1234
Sanctuary: Any day, any time. With its specialty coffee bar, it’s Starbucks with yarn.
Owned by Lisi Grinstein, a former makeup artist who started the business out of her garage, it’s now the only place in Southern California that teaches spinning, spindling and dyeing. Stitch also sells handmade yarn, demand for which has reached the point that Stitch is phasing out all but a few retail yarns. She still sells the hand-dyed Prism ($92 a skein) and the yarns of Asahu Noro, who lives on a remote Japanese island and hand-spins his silk and cashmere.