This Knit Shop Has Us Dreaming of Alpaca Sweaters

blacksheep

Wools for sale at Black Sheep Knitworks in East Hampton.

Well, hang on. We’ve been meaning to knit ourselves a pair of woolly socks. So here’s good news: Black Sheep Knitworks has opened up in East Hampton.

The tiny knitting shop, in the alley next to Tory Burch, is owned by crafter Christine Clark. Until recently, Clark had co-opted a 10 x 10 foot space in her husband’s instrument shop, Crossroads Music in Amagansett, where she sold wools and hosted knitting circles. When Crossroads closed its doors in December, she found a “manageable” rental space in East Hampton’s shopping district and opened in early January. “This isn’t much bigger,” she says. “So it’s perfect.”

Some fun factoids about knitting: The repetitive nature of stitches like “knit one, purl two” is quite meditative, apparently lowering the heart rate and blood pressure and reducing levels of stress. Holding needles and hooks can keep the fingers more dexterous, while the activity itself can stave off a decline in brain function with age. And best of all, you often have a warm-and-fuzzy hat or scarf when done.

Christine Clark

Christine Clark in front of her new shop.

Clark, 59, began knitting 12 years ago after a friend invited her to take a class. “I really liked it and haven’t stopped since,” she says. What, exactly, does she like about knitting? “It’s the tactile nature of it,” she says. “I just really love the feel of the yarn.”

On a recent visit to the shop, the Hampton Bee got to feel some of Clark’s best-selling yarns, which include chunky baby alpaca, Peruvian llama and superthick Naturalia wool. Fun! And we weren’t alone. Despite the fairly limited hours — 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., every day except Tuesday — a host of customers (all women) wandered in to chat with Clark, buy yarns or patterns, or even to sit and knit.

But can a knitting shop be profitable? “I don’t know,” says Clark, who spent the majority of her work life as a stay-at-home mom to three sons. For now, her goal is to have enough business “to support my habit and make a little money.” Meanwhile, husband Michael plans to manage Cavaniola’s cheese shop in Sag Harbor (apparently, only one of the couple can be a small-business owner at a time). She charges $25 an hour for knitting lessons, and sells yarns, accessories (such as needles) and patterns.

One thing she doesn’t sell: Her hand-knit items. “You can’t knit for profit,” she says. “You can get a pair of socks for 50 cents at Walmart — and it would take you a month to make. But there’s nothing like a homemade pair of socks.”

Is your business unique, or doing something innovative? Let us know. Email thehamptonbee@gmail.com, or leave a comment below.

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