A lifelong knitter, Marie Utnehmer got a big kick out of teaching her two young daughters to knit, and then their friends. And then their classmates at their schools.
Within a few years, she was teaching kids to knit at Crescent Montessori, Prestwood and El Verano schools. Soon after, she began teaching adults at Vintage House and participating in a weekly knitting club at Sonoma Community Center.
All the while, Utnehmer was bemoaning the lack of a knitting store in Sonoma. She worked part-time at Knitterly in Petaluma because she found herself over there so often.
“Yarn is something you really want to buy in person, not online,” she says.
Opening her own yarn shop was a longtime dream. And pandemic be damned, it will become a reality on Feb. 23 when Noma Knits opens next to Sweet Pea bakery at 730 W. West Napa Street.
“I saw this spot and instantly felt that it was perfect,” she said.
Utnehmer said that knitting has undergone a resurgence during the pandemic.
“Like bread-making, people have gravitated toward hands-on skills they can learn and perfect at home,” she said. “And there were already so many knitters in Sonoma, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Sonoma used to have a yarn shop, but the International Knitting Studio on West Napa Street closed in 2014 and Sonoma Yarn on Lichtenberg closed almost 10 years ago. Knitters have hoped for years that another shop would open.
Utnehmer sources her yarn from a variety of female-owned and ethically-farmed sources, including a cooperative in Uruguay and a sheep farm in Sebastopol run by a home-schooling mom.
Utnehmer wants Noma Knits to be a community space with weekly “knit nights” and classes for all ages, although she recommends age 8 and up as the ideal time to learn to knit.
“But even the most experienced knitters agree that there is always more to learn,” she said. “You never know it all.”
Noma Knit will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a website is in the works at nomaknits.com.
Contact Lorna at email@example.com.
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