Sadie deWall called central Pennsylvania her home for many years, graduating from CD East in the ‘90s before embarking on a career as a classical viola player. After moving to Manhattan, she spent a large amount of time on the road as a freelance musician.
“I traveled the world for 17 years, and I just got tired,” she said.
Three years ago, when her daughter was born, the urge to settle into a calmer lifestyle grew stronger, she recounts.
“I took her on the road with me, and she was fine, but I was looking ahead to schooling and realized I needed to work regular hours.”
Although still involved in music (she plays in the Harrisburg Symphony as a substitute), deWall is opting for a more serene scene these days. To that end, she recently opened a quiet, cozy boutique business she named Little Owls Knit Shop.
Located on Market Street in Camp Hill near the Cornerstone Coffeehouse, the shop is a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a place where crafters can sink into a cozy couch and knit away the day if they choose.
When the forecast called for snow on the planned Jan. 7 grand opening, deWall was a bit apprehensive, concerned that potential customers might hunker down inside their houses. Instead, she was pleasantly surprised. “We were slammed that day,” she said.
Curious crocheters, knitters and would-be crafters packed the shop, marveling at the array of needles, yarn, patterns and books, suitable for a host of projects.
For those who need a little help envisioning a final product, a variety of finished items like mittens, blankets, shawls and scarves are displayed throughout the shop.
Employees, skilled and enthusiastic, are at the ready, willing and able to answer customers’ questions or to help them get past that bump in the road they may encounter while working on a piece. Employee Beth Kurtz from Susquehanna Township is excited to share her expertise.
“I retired from teaching and enjoy using my creativity to help others with projects and challenges,” she said.
During a recent visit, Keri Feldman relaxed on a comfy couch in a bright corner of a room next to a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, on which was drawn three colorful owls perched on a branch, busying themselves with knitting needles. As she rolled yarn for a project, the Camp Hill resident shared her reason for patronizing the business, saying she enjoys the quiet respite from her busy life and finds knitting calming and therapeutic.
Zella Anderson sat nearby, listening carefully to instructor Kurtz sharing tips on the hobby.
“I learned to knit as a child and never really did anything with it. When the shop opened, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more,” she said, as Kurtz demonstrated a variety of different stitches to help her complete her “sampler scarf.”
Employee Nicole Kostelec, a Harrisburg resident with a degree in fine arts, said she enjoys the job because it enables her to keep up with her knitting skills since she’s expanding into design work.
Customer Mia Bachman, a Mechanicsburg resident, has been knitting “on and off” for three years.
“I taught myself by reading a book and googling YouTube videos,” she said. “When I moved here and was visiting the coffee shop nearby, I saw the business and have been visiting weekly since it opened.”
She added that she’s received help on many projects since then.
“I knitted one scarf that was very complicated,” she said. “Sadie explained it over the phone and was amazingly helpful. I am now full-blown, madly in love with knitting and her shop. Sadie and her staff love knitting and helping customers.”
She credits the shop for allowing her to tackle a Paloma scarf, which she describes as quite a challenge. “I gave it to my best friend as a birthday present, and she was thrilled.”
For those interested in enrolling in formal classes, times and costs are listed on the store’s website. Classes are tailored to most ages and abilities.
Children who are interested in learning to knit with a group of their peers can enroll in a kids’ knitting club held every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m.
“I teach kids how to knit, or if they already know how, we work on a project together. I really want to empower children. We make little arm warmers and leg warmers, and I can see in their faces how proud they are when they finish a project,” said deWall.
For those who are free on Sundays, 12 to 2 p.m., and want to contribute their efforts to a good cause, deWall holds a “knit for charity” social, where members of the community can gather to knit blankets, scarves and hats for the homeless and chemo caps for cancer patients. Free yarn and patterns are provided.
As for the future, deWall has even more plans for area residents to get together to learn from each other and socialize.
“I would like to plan even more community events and want this to be a gathering place for knitters to inspire each other,” she said. “There was a need here in the community, and I hope to continue to fulfill that need.”
Little Owls Knit Shop is located at 2138 Market St., Camp Hill. Call 717-737-6700 or visit www.littleowlsknitshop.com.