By Dave DeWitte
Stitch Together Needle Arts Studio isn’t just the name of the business that opened last month in Uptown Marion – it’s a description of its socially oriented focus.
“Knitting and sewing is a social activity, and we hope that in our space crafters can meet others interested in the same things to learn from and inspire each other,” said owner Kayanna Nelson. “I’ve met some of my most dear and closest friends through knitting, and I hope to provide that opportunity to others in the Cedar Rapids and Marion area.”
Ms. Nelson, a former art director at a Chicago ad agency, has been sewing most of her life, and a knitter for about a dozen years. She taught enough sewing classes and friends to knit that opening a shop to offer materials and instruction seemed like a natural step.
With her mother, Reba Winter, as her business partner, Ms. Nelson and other family members redecorated a former coin shop space at 720 10th St. Stitch Together will offer hand-dyed yarns and fibers from small companies around the country, and other hard-to-find handcrafted gifts and supplies.
“We believe if you’re going to spend the time making something by hand, your supplies should be special and worth the work you put into it,” Ms. Nelson explained.
Classes will be offered in knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving and hand-sewing at the beginning. The class offerings will later include sessions on dying fabric and fibers in its dye studio in the winter and spring. They will be tailored to a variety of skill levels, from beginners to advanced students, but will be limited to five or 10 spots to ensure they are intimate and allow for one-on-one time with the instructor, Ms. Nelson said.
Creating a warm, social atmosphere in which to work on projects is the goal, added Ms. Nelson, who learned to sew from her grandmother.
Stitch Together plans to pursue a beer and wine license in order to be able to serve the beverages during special events and open craft nights. Groups will also be invited to bring their own beverages on open craft nights, she said.
Ms. Nelson and Ms. Winter scouted store locations in Cedar Rapids and Marion before choosing the former coin shop near the Giving Tree Theater. Ms. Winter provided much of the creative guidance for the store’s interior design.
“We found Marion to be exceptionally welcoming and friendly to small business,” Ms. Nelson said. “With the efforts to revitalize the Uptown area and their support of the arts, we felt it would be the perfect spot for us and really fit in with our business goals.”
Stitch Together’s longer-term plans include selling fabric, creating an online store and offering summer classes for school-aged students.