Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 32
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

CREATIVE CRAFTS: "Our specialty is the level of service. We offer lessons and advice and enjoy helping people. Quite often, customers want to reach a little beyond what they've been doing. We try to direct them to a project they can be successful in." Kathleen Gittleman, owner of Pins and Needles, is shown by the colorful yarn selection in her very popular shop.

Knitting and Needlepoint Supplies Are Highlights of Pins and Needles

Knitters and needlepointers are delighted with Pins and Needles, the popular store at 8 Chambers Street. The bright 2-story shop offers a wonderful selection of quality yarns, canvasses, and supplies, as well as a sampling of sweaters, scarves, mittens, and baby items, etc. knitted by the staff. There is also a great sense of camaraderie here, as customers gather around the large demonstration table, enjoying the opportunity to share ideas.

"I find it so nice to have a store that will give you help," says a happy customer. She is a long-time knitter, but still appreciates a bit of guidance, adding, "I love their selection of yarn; I love good wool, the feeling of good wool in my hands."

When the shop was opened just before September 11, 2001, owner Kathleen Gittleman didn't know what to expect after that terrible event.

"We knew the world had changed fundamentally; we just didn't know how much," she reflects. "We had no idea how it would affect the business. But in fact, we got busy that day, and became busier and busier."

Knitting Classes

People seemed to want a quiet, comforting activity after 9/11, and knitting is such an activity, points out Ms. Gittleman. "It's a repetitive motion that is very calming. It is said to be an endorphin-releasing activity."

Today, customers just can't seem to get enough of this fun shop, which features an array of bright colors, open space, and friendly, knowledgeable service. Knitting classes for all categories — from beginners to advanced — start in September, and there are many candidates.

"It's nice for companionship, and also some stitches, such as socks, are easier learned in classes," reports Ms. Gittleman. "We also have two stitching groups on Tuesday and Thursday, when people just come to get together and knit."

Ms. Gittleman, who has been knitting and sewing nearly all her life, wanted to share such pleasures with people in the area. "I sensed there was a void in town, and I hoped to fill it. It's been more than I expected. All ages come in. Girls with their mothers and grandmothers, beginners and experienced knitters alike, and they are coming from Princeton and beyond. We have lots of regulars as well as new people all the time and an international group too. It's a great mix."

High Quality

Ms. Gittleman notes that sweaters and baby items, such as blankets, caps, and booties, are very popular. Gloves, mittens, and hats are also favorites. "We have lots of natural fibers, including wool, cotton, silk, and alpaca. Alpaca is very big in yarn now. We also have lots of wool blends, such as wool and cashmere, and new yarns are coming along all the time. We have yarns from basic to unusual, with variegated yarns, organic yarns, and metallic yarns all available."

Pins and Needles carries such high quality brands as Rowan, Koigu, and Noro, among others, as well as a full selection of notions, including knitting needles, scissors, buttons, ribbons, knitting bags, crochet hooks, and a variety of instruction books.

Many of Pins and Needles' knitting customers also enjoy needlepoint, and the shop offers a complete selection of canvasses and supplies for that popular activity. Colorful threads, including wool, silk, and wool/silk blends, abound.

"Needlepoint tends to be more popular in summer and knitting in winter," points out Ms. Gittleman. "Pillows, purses, cushions, chair covers, shoes, and belts are all favorites, and we have handpainted canvasses, including wool and silk."

Those new to the craft will find needlepoint easy to pick up, she adds. "We also have a needlepoint trunk show each month with many canvasses on display. It's a great opportunity to see what's available."

Ms. Gittleman especially enjoys seeing the customers come in and advising them about their projects. She also enjoys the seductive display of yarns of brilliant colors and textures. "It is a visual pleasure to be surrounded by all this."

New Ways

With the advent of the internet and electronic flow of information, more and more new ways to share ideas are becoming available, she adds. "There is a lot of pattern-support on-line, including knitting blogs now. People are describing what they're working on. Blogs are really interconnected with people sharing information about their projects, new ideas, and asking for and giving advice. Blogs have been growing and growing."

One of the nicest aspects of knitting and needlepointing is the chance for creativity and to fashion a gift for someone else, says Ms. Gittleman. "There is something very comforting about making a product with your own hands. It is truly one-of-a-kind, and there is a sense of great accomplishment. And what is interesting about knitting, too, is that once you've knitted — even if you've been away from it — you never really forget. It's muscle memory, and it comes back to you."

Adds store manager Beth Miko: "Many clients are making gifts for others. Christmas presents, Afghans for students going to college, yarmulkes and Tallis bags for bar mitzvahs are all popular. It's a homey pleasure; it's creative and provides the enjoyment of having made something yourself. Also, knitting, especially, is contagious. When you see a gorgeous project, you can't wait to do it. Everyone inspires each other."

Pins and Needles offers a wide price range, from $6 for a skein of yarn to $200 for a handpainted canvas. A pair of mittens can be made for $8; a special sweater for $200, and there are all prices in-between.

Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 to 5, Thursday until 8. Closed Sunday in July and August. (609) 921-9075.

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