JP Knit & Stitch crafts a spot for knitters

March 4, 2011
By
Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira
Knit & Stitch owners (from left) Jennifer Boyd, Genevieve Day and Pat Boyd carry broad selections of local and organic fabrics and yarns along with traditional stock at their 461 Centre St. store, which opens today.

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CANARY SQ.—A long-vacant storefront is splashing Canary Square with color—JP Knit & Stitch, a full-service yarn and fabric store, opens today at 461 Centre St.

With large selections of organic materials and local sources, a resource center complete with iPad and printer, a sitting area and children’s section—including color-coded knitting needles for little hands—this is a far cry from other craft stores.

“We wanted to create a store that had a community soul, a place where people feel welcome,” Pat Boyd, co-owner, told the Gazette last week, after a tour of the store.

“We wanted to use the best that’s out there” to make JP Knit & Stitch the best store possible, co-owner Jennifer Boyd added. Jennifer Boyd is Pat Boyd’s daughter. “We’re trying not to be you ‘been there forever’ yarn store,” Jennifer Boyd added.

Even with the slow economy, co-owner Genevieve Day said, “I don’t know of a better place [than JP] to open a craft or DIY [do it yourself] store. We value the handmade in this community.”

Knitting, sewing and crafting have enjoyed an upswing in the last five years—from favoring unique pieces instead of mass-produced items to making clothes at home to save money, many are making the switch. Websites like etsy.com, which sells handmade items, and craft stores have also seen a rise in younger customers.

The 461-467 Centre St. space became vacant in 2008 when Petal & Leaf moved to South Street. Domino’s Pizza expressed interest in opening a store in the space in February 2009, causing a major community push against the chain store.

Jennifer Boyd, along with mother Pat and friend Day, all JP residents, came together with a common dream: owning a fabric and yarn store.

“The passion to do it was definitely there from the beginning,” Jennifer Boyd said. “I always had this fantasy of owning a fabric shop,” Pat Boyd added.

“It’s amazing how it’s come together… we’ve all helped each other,” Jennifer Boyd said, noting that her husband, Bryan Harter, has also been a great help with his technological and business know-how. Harter is the director at AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, located at 125 S. Huntington Ave.

The owners know their clientele: they stock a whole section of “green” fabrics and yarns from vegetable and organic sources. They plan to offer wall space for First Thursday arts nights. They’re even looking to broaden their selection of bicycling-inspired printed cotton.

This is partly due to the focus groups they held last winter: Even with minimal advertising, “We had to turn people away due to high response,” Jennifer Boyd said.

“We had multiple generations, men—a lot of different demographics,” Day added.

The owners are taking that research and putting it into practice: The store’s “living room” has bench seating under its three large windows, along with several chairs and a coffee table. It has plenty of room for yarn and fabric. It has space in the rear for sewing and knitting classes (including sewing machines and space for an ironing board) and it even has a kitchenette.

“We had too many requirements for a small space,” Jennifer Boyd said. “But the three of us walked in [to this space], and we knew, ‘This is it.’”

The owners have since been busy since signing the lease last fall with the refit of the space, supervising and blogging about a construction process that involved a dizzying amount of custom shelving.

JP Knit & Stitch will eventually offer knitting and sewing classes, hopefully in English and Spanish.

“It’s been amazing how many people have volunteered [to teach],” Jennifer Boyd said, though she noted they are still looking for Spanish-language instructors.

They also have plans to host various knitting groups as well as a new mothers group.

“We’ll try and make it welcoming for lots of different people,” Jennifer Boyd said.

The owners have consciously chosen local vendors whenever possible for their refit of Petal and Leaf’s former space: Red Sun Press is printing their paper goods and the Decorator’s Workroom, on Lamartine St., did all the custom upholstering (from fabrics sold in-store). Elaine Hackney, a JP resident, did their graphic design.

All three owners live within a five-minute’s walk of Knit & Stitch, and all feel “fortunate,” Day said, “that we can live and work in this community…[Canary Square] is the gateway to JP.”

“We’re thrilled go be doing this. We feel lucky. We’ve loved being in here,” Jennifer Boyd said.