March 27, 2017
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Snapshot: Kenosha woman turns her passion for knitting into a business


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BY SEAN KRAJACIC
skrajacic@kenoshanews.com


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Mindy McTernan, 40, opened her store, Fiddlehead Yarns, 7511 26th Ave., in 2006, just four years after discovering knitting. She immersed herself in knitting to keep her hands busy while pursuing a graduate degree.

Q. What got you into knitting?

A. In 2002 I took a class at Lemon Street Gallery because I was going back (to school) for my master's and was sitting in a lot of classes. I didn't sit still for my biology degree, but when I went back for my master's in education, there was a lot of sitting and talking. I picked up knitting. I loved it.

Q. How did the evolution from beginning knitter to opening a successful store happen in such a short time?

A. I enjoy it. I enjoy the history. I enjoy the technique. I was more of a student of it. I leaped into projects that I probably wasn't ready for. I didn't feel ready to open the shop; it was more of my husband — he's the business brains behind it. The woman who taught me how to knit, I approached her. She said, "I think you can do it. You might be surprised." We all kind of learned together. And we started kind of small.

Q. How many knitting styles do you know?

A. I don't know. That's the great thing about knitting. There's never an end. There's always something new. You can get as intense about it as you want. I think it's for anyone.

Q. How have your knitting projects changed?

A. I don't knit with chunky yarn. I knit with things that are more of a commitment. I've knit sweaters that I love. There are probably more stitches in a pair of socks. (My favorites) are sweaters. They take me some time, and I have to think — use my brain. There's a lot of math, which I love.

Q. What type of yarn is your favorite?

A. I only like knitting with wool — just the bare-bones wool, nothing processed. I do knit with dyed wool, but (I prefer) just plain. It smells like a sheep, and it's scratchy. I feel like there's minimal processing to it. I feel like it's very organic. I can put the whole thing in the compost pile and it wouldn't matter.

Q. How have you been able to run a successful business of this kind where others haven't in this area?

A. We have grown slowly. Part of that is the business model; the other part is our family needs — we have three kids. Of course I want the shop to grow, but I'm also happy where it is. I try to use most of the things we have in the shop. For me the shop has been a blessing — it's served the girls who work here; it's served me; it's served the community. I try to be pretty smart with the shop's money inventory-wise.

Q. Do you teach classes?

A. Yes. There's the other reason why the shop is good. I have great women working here — all ages, all skill levels. I bounce things off them, too, because some of them are more masterful. I like to teach.

Q. How far is the store's reach?

A. Kenosha, of course. Racine because there isn't a store there. There is a shop in Burlington. I get a lot from over the border, Illinois. The closest store is in Highland Park. If you're a knitter, when you go on vacation you figure out where the yarn shops are because they're all different. (We see a lot of that) in the summer.

Q. How do you connect with the larger community?

A. We (the business and its patrons) donate food to the Shalom Center. I say, "We really need a lot of knitted hats, right now." They (the store's patrons) do it. We get tons (of hats). We had a sample sale that started in the middle of the year, and we were able to write a big check to First Step (Services).

Q. How often do you get to knit?

A. Oh, I knit every day. It's like one of those things where you don't work out or don't drink enough water you don't feel "on it." It's meditation.

Snapshot is a weekly feature introducing a Kenosha County resident. If you have someone who may be a subject for the feature, email the Kenosha News photo staff at photo@kenoshanews.com.


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