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A Tight-Knit Partnership
By Melissa Ozawa
Combining heirloom-quality materials with a clean, modern style, Purl Soho is setting trends in craft–making -- and turning a new generation on to old-fashioned pastimes like knitting and sewing.
Walk into Purl Soho, in New York City, and you’ll see a flurry of activity: staffers cutting yards of fabric, customers armed with skeins of yarn, novices learning how to crochet.
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It’s hard to believe that its founder, Joelle Hoverson (middle), had been seriously knitting for only a few years when she opened the shop in 2002. As a style editor at Martha Stewart Living, she had fallen in love with the skill after reading a story on knitting in the magazine. She took the article home and promptly taught herself. “It became a real obsession,” she says. More than a decade later, Hoverson, now joined by her sister Jen Hoverson Jahnke (right) and former Living colleague Page Marchese Norman, has turned what began as a yarn store into a crafters’ mecca.
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“One of our main goals is to find beautiful, natural materials in vivid colors,” she says. In addition to yarns, the shop sells fabric (including an array of Liberty of London prints) and needlepoint and embroidery supplies.
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But what truly drives the trio is “participating in a community of crafters,” Hoverson says. To re-create the feel of a knitting circle or sewing bee for those who can’t visit the store, they launched a virtual one: the Purl Bee (purlbee.com), which features how-tos and videos.
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They also make DIY kits -- think bunny finger puppets and striped baby blankets -- for clients “who aren’t right at our fingertips.”
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In the end, they just want to share their passion for process. Says Norman, “We like getting back to a time when things were made by hand.”
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