It’s a simple, yet successful pattern turned business model: Knit one, purl two, intertwine with many! When Dr. Lyle Beck met patient Karen Sharman for the first time last year he was impressed hearing her plans for a new friendly yarn shop and commitment to provide a gathering spot in the community. This week, as she celebrates the first anniversary of Knit2gether in Silverdale, Wash., Clear Creek Dentistry congratulates Sharman on the success that comes when you center on people not customers.
“I’ve always been a really good support person,” said Sharman, whose first career was working as cardiothoracic surgery nurse. “I helped put my husband through medical school, his residency and open his practice here in Kitsap. Then I worked at home taking care of our five children.”
Fast forward 19 years to when Sharman’s “baby” went off to college and her older two daughters got married. “I knit 10 sweaters that year – one for each member of my family. It was therapy,” she said.
“I was contemplating what was next for me, what I was going to do with my life. One morning I was walking with a friend through Old Town Silverdale, talking and dreaming. I expressed to her how much I enjoyed helping others and she encouraged me…told me I needed to be available to more people. As we continued our walk I pointed to a building with a patio facing the water. I said wouldn’t it be lovely to work there, bring people together in that setting?”
From that moment forward all forces, including her walking partner, began pushing Sharman toward her second-stage destiny. Another friend decided it was time to retire from teaching. She was not knitter, but had interest and skills in managing a business. A lease sign suddenly went up on the “dream building” Sharman had first pointed out, then a small store in Jefferson County was closing, allowing her to purchase many of their furnishings and supplies. “When your bank calls to let you know about an estate sale for another yarn shop, you know prayers are being answered and making things happen,” Sharman said. “By October 2014 my teacher friend turned business partner, Sue Keating, and I had a key to our building and by last February (2015) our doors were open to the public filling a void here in Silverdale.”
Knit2gether is bursting with color, texture and personality. It was designed as a place to come not only for supplies, but to glean ideas, receive help on projects, share creativity and conversations, find friendship and love.
“We tell our customers, come hang out with us! Ask questions. Just take a moment to sit, work and enjoy the view. Part of the beauty of knitting is being able to share both the process and product with others,” Sharman said.
Knit2gether serves all levels of knitters and would-be knitters individually and through periodic classes. “I learned to knit 27 years ago, when my second child was small, because it was so easy to put down and pick up. Knitting is good for mental health, allowing you to be contemplative while keeping your nervous system busy through the feel of the fibers. It is very calming, but also keeps your memory sharp and focused to some degree. And, if you’re a kinesthetic learner like me, you become skilled just by doing.”
Beautiful scarves and sweaters (like the one Sharman made for her granddaughter) – even dog leashes – have been produced, sold and gifted as a result of Silverdale’s only yarn shop. However, it is the friendships built around the little work table in the store and the problem solving that’s gone on within her business walls that makes this her dream job.
“I love the people that come through the door,” Sharman said. “Some shops want to become nationwide, offering their goods and services online. We’re here for Silverdale. It’s not about building our name, it’s about building our community. As long as our shop is open, Sue and I will be who our customers see. We will always work here because we want to offer ourselves and ensure a visit to Knit2gether feels like a personal experience. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. I’m excited to be celebrating a great first year!”