Dear Stitchers,

This is a very difficult newsletter to write.  By the time you receive it, we will have begun the process of selling out our inventory and closing The Stitch Niche.  We will close at the end of May.  It has become necessary, after 28 years of owning this business, to devote more time to family concerns and to prepare for eventual retirement.  Increasing overhead and losing business to on-line sales makes it very difficult to operate a profitable business in the current retail environment.  While I dearly love the industry, and thoroughly enjoy the community we have built and share with our customers, it is time to move on. 

The business has grown and changed so much in the past 28 years -- from a small, under-stocked 1000 square foot shop to the bulging inventory currently housed in our 3600 square foot space.  I owe an overwhelming debt of gratitude to all those who helped to make it possible.  To my current invaluable staff -- Sherry, Judy, Frances, Dorothy and Susan, as well as those who have helped us in the past -- I cannot begin to express my appreciation for all of the love and countless hours of work that you have given on the shop’s behalf.  To the additional teachers and those who have taught for us in the past -- thank you for helping us to provide a quality educational experience to our eager students.  To our fine finishers -- Judy and Susan, and those who went before, who turned your lovely work into exquisite finished pieces -- I admire and appreciate your talents.  And of course, to my mom, Alice, my endless gratitude for everything you have contributed -- your ideas, your countless hours of hard work, your emotional support, and above all, your love for me and your desire to see me succeed, and willingness to do whatever you could to help that happen. 

And to you, my dear customers, without whom none of this would have been possible, my sincere and unending gratitude for your loyal business.  Thank you for eagerly requesting class after class, inspiring us to perfect our skills and constantly learn new ones.  Thank you for taking us into your lives and for caring enough to be a part of ours.  So many of you have become much more than just customers -- I count many of you among my true friends, and I will miss the regular interaction with you.  I hope we can stay in touch.

Beginning March 1, we will reduce our entire inventory by 10%.  On March 18 the discount will increase to 20%, April 1 to 30%, April 15 to 40%, April 28 to 50% and May 13 to 60%.  Discount percentages do not apply to special orders.  Our final day of business is tentatively set for May 25, as we will need a week to clear out the rest of the fixtures and remaining inventory.  In addition to inventory, the majority of our fixtures will be on sale.  I will determine prices for most of them, but if you are interested in a large quantity of them, make me an offer!  I will say that this timetable, and discount percentages, are subject to change based on the inventory levels in the shop at certain points in time.  Hours of operation are also subject to change as our inventory levels drop -- so as time progresses, please call the shop to check hours before you make the trip.

Due to our closing, other deadline dates need to be set.  As of March 1, all sales are final, with no returns accepted.  All gift certificates should be redeemed by March 30.  Any presented after that date will be redeemed with a merchandise discount of 20%  rather than the increased percentages offered on the date redeemed.  We will accept ornaments/stockings, etc. for finishing, custom knitting/crochet orders and repairs until April 30.  No orders will be taken or items accepted after that date. 

I will mention that I am open to considering qualified offers to purchase the “business” part of the operation.  Anyone interested in purchasing fixtures, files, vendor information and contacts, the shop mailing list and the business name, is welcome to contact me.   Assuming the brick & mortar side of the business closes, I do plan to keep the web site active for the foreseeable future.  We have discussed continuing to offer classes and/or help sessions if a suitable location can be found, and the extra time available will enable me to organize often requested knitting/crochet retreats at area state parks or bed and breakfast locations.  I am also exploring the possibility of carrying a limited amount of yarn from select vendors on the web site, and installing a shopping cart.  Watch the web site (thestitchnicheky.com) and our Facebook page for announcements of upcoming events and developments.  Our email address will remain active, and we will continue to take messages and return calls on our phone line for the next few months to take care of any loose ends. 

On to other news -- Our Warm Up America group generated some impressive numbers for 2018.  Total numbers of items donated include:  afghans - 473, scarves - 225, hats - 199.  The future plans for our Warm Up group are uncertain at this time.  Please check our website for updated information. We will mention that Warm Up has received some very generous donations lately, and has quite a large quantity of fashion knitting yarns for purchase in our sale corner and in baskets throughout the shop.  This is a great opportunity to get some quality yarn at great prices, and help out Warm Up at the same time.  Check it out!

As our classes have always been the backbone of our business, we have decided to offer one final semester of classes.  We are repeating some favorites as well as offering several new projects.  Take advantage of this last opportunity to pick up some skills you've always meant to add to your portfolio, and join us for some fun times.

CLASSES * * * CLASSES * * * CLASSES

CLASS GUIDELINES: 

*A deposit of 1/2 of the class fee is required to reserve your space in the class; balance of fees is due at the first class session. 

*Classes have both minimum and maximum size requirements, and decisions concerning capping or canceling classes will be made no later than 24 hours prior to class - don’t wait until the last minute to sign up!

*Classes are designed for a variety of skill and experience levels -- if you have any questions about the required skills for a class, and your corresponding skill level, just ask!  Some classes require pre-class “homework,” - please consider that if you delay your enrollment until close to the class start date.  Complete materials lists and any homework assignments will be given at registration.

Pictures and/or models of class projects are on display in the shop and on our web site.

Beginning Crochet - Mondays, March 18 & 25, April 8, 15 & 22, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 5 sessions, $60.00 plus materials.  This class teaches all basic crochet stitches, several pattern stitches, and pattern reading skills. Several small projects are completed and instruction given on more complicated projects.  Teacher: Deborah Hutchinson

Luminosa Airy Cowl - Tuesday, April 30, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 1 session, $14.00 plus materials.  This simple cowl is quick to crochet and wonderful to wear.  The yarn used adds an element of elegance.  Luminosa's construction is a shimmery viscose tube filled with black baby alpaca -- a beautiful yarn, perfect for accessories.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Hooked Dragon Scarf - Wednesdays, May 1 & 15, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.   This crochet version of the popular knitted Sea Dragon Shawl is crocheted from side to side with short rows to create a shallow crescent shape.  It's the perfect shape for wrapping around the neck like a scarf or wearing around the shoulders.  Go crazy with your leftover yarn stash, use a gradient pack, or create your own color combination.   Teacher:  Amy Jones

Kimono Cardigan - Wednesdays, April 10 & 24, May 8 & 22, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 4 sessions, $48.00 plus materials.  One simple shape and a beautiful yarn create this warm and cozy cardigan.  Customize the length to suit you, choose your favorite color, and you'll find dozens of reasons to wear this jacket all through the fall and winter season.  If you've never attempted to crochet a sweater, this is the perfect introduction!  Teacher:  Deborah Hutchinson

Granny Square Plus Sampler Afghan - Tuesdays, March 12, April 9, May 22, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 1-2 blocks per session, $14.00 per session plus materials.  Do you love combining colors in creative ways?  Do you like to crochet a variety of stitches and stitch patterns?  This afghan gives you infinite possibilities to express that creativity.  Some of the blocks are very simple and some more challenging, and not all are granny squares, as evidenced by the book's title.  The end result can be an afghan, a set of pillows, or even a tote bag.  If you are a little hesitant to step out on your own, explore the variety of stitches and patterns in the safety of a class setting.  If you're a fairly confident crocheter, just come and have fun with us!  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Crocheted Cable Stitch Sampler Afghan - Wednesdays, March 27, April 17, May 29, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 1 block per session, $14.00 plus materials per session. Do you love the old-world look of a cabled sweater?  Come and join us once a month to learn a new cabled stitch pattern, while creating blocks for an afghan, a bag or pillow. We will have covered 48 different patterns by the end of the class.  You can join the class every month, or only attend the sessions for the block patterns you really like, and can join the class at any point in the series.  Blocks are crocheted in worsted weight yarn.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Beginning Knitting -- Our beginning knitting class is split into three sections.  Each section focuses on different skills, increasing in difficulty as you go along.  That way, if you know the basics, but wish to brush-up on or learn other skills, you can sign up only for the sections that would benefit you. Each section is 2 sessions long, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., $24.00 plus materials per section. Teacher:  Amy Jones

                Beginning Knitting I - Mondays, March 25 & April 1.  Skills include: Cast on, bind off, knit stitch,                                                                                purl stitch, counting rows/stitches, yarn weights & gauge.

                Beginning Knitting II - Mondays, April 8 & 15.  Skills include: ribbing, knit & purl                                                                                                             increases and decreases, knitting in the round.

                Beginning Knitting III - Mondays, April 22 & 29.  Skills include:  Cables, buttonholes, bobbles, 2-                                                                                color fair-isle technique, picking up stitches.

How to Correct Mistakes and Other “Good Stuff” to Know - Wednesdays, March 13 & 20, April 3, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  Have you looked at your knitting, seen stitches that didn't look quite right, but weren't sure what was wrong, much less how to fix it?  Tired of ripping out and starting over because you don't know how to correct a mistake?  We will help diagnose the problem, teach you 3 fixes you'll use over and over and how to avoid making those mistakes, or others like them, again.  You will also learn tips for fixing mistakes in color knitting and how to correct cable mistakes by only unraveling the cable.  You will be given a pattern and will knit the "mistakes" into your swatches at home and then we will "fix" them in class.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Yarn Dyeing Workshop - Saturday, March 30, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., 1 session, $12.00 workshop fee plus cost of yarn chosen.  In this workshop you will get the chance to be the wizard -- and to create your idea of the perfect colorway -- it’s fun and there are NO mistakes!  You do not have to be at the shop at 11:00, but will need to arrive no later than 2:00 p.m. in order to complete the process by 4:00.  You can choose to dye one or several hanks of yarn, in fingering, sport, worsted or chunky weight, or dye a machine-knitted sock blank ending up with 2 socks that will match when you knit them!  Teachers:  Amy Jones & Judy Olson

Knitted Beaded Ornament - Tuesday, April 2, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 1 session, $16.00 plus materials.  This lovely ornament cover, knitted with metallic yarn and beads, fits over a glass ornament (included).  The ornament is knitted on double pointed needles, and is easily completed in an evening or two.  Watch out -- they are addictive!  Teacher: Amy Jones

Double-Knitting Coaster/Hot Pad - Tuesdays, April 9 & 23, 2:00-4:30 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  These cute coasters and/or hot pad make a great gift and are a great introduction to double knitting. If  you already know the technique, which creates a two sided, reversible fabric, come and enjoy a fun class.  Joyce will have additional patterns available -- you can let your creativity run wild!  Teacher:  Joyce Marshall

Brioche Headband - Wednesdays, March 20 & April 3, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.   Headbands are such useful winter accessories, and this pattern is knit in soft, squishy brioche stitch.  This simple project, a great introduction to brioche, can be knit in one color in chunky weight yarn or in two colors of worsted weight yarn. Teacher: Judy Olson        

A Proper Scarf -- Tuesdays, March 19 & April 2, 2:00-4:30 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  The designer's husband didn't think a scarf was a "proper scarf" unless it was rectangular, so she created this design for those who love rectangular scarves!  Two contrasting colors and weights of yarn are used in creating the mosaic colorwork effect.  Charts and written instructions are provided and tips for reading charts will be covered.  Teacher:  Joyce Marshall

Luminosa Braided Scarf - Wednesday, April 10, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 1 session, $14.00 plus materials.  This beautiful scarf is knitted in 3 colors of Luminosa -- an elegant yarn constructed by blowing black baby alpaca through a shiny viscose yarn tube.  Combine the 3 colors of your choice from a palette of jewel tones.  Learn to do front and back cables while creating this lovely accessory.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Mellow Cedar Scarf - Mondays, April 29 & May 13, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  Our fingering weight Rustic Silk from Ella Rae is the perfect yarn for this beautiful scarf.  It is fun to knit, and the repeated stitch pattern is easily learned.  It's great for any season, and the yarn is available in a lovely range of colors, both solids and multis.  Teacher:  Dorothy Apple

Dovetail Cowl - Mondays, April 8 & 22, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or April 15 & 29, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  This kerchief style cowl is easy to wear, adding warmth but no bulk behind the neck.  The mosaic colorwork is so easy to knit, and is the perfect canvas to play with your favorite colors.  The easy slip-stitch pattern goes quickly, making this a fast project.  Gift knitting anyone?  Teacher:  Joyce Marshall

Circulation Cowl - Tuesdays, April 16 & 23, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  The designer defines "circulation" as the process by which triangles become circles.  This cowl is worked flat as two triangles, but results in a circular cowl without seaming.  Come and learn the magic tricks!  It looks great done in a gradient kit, or leftover bits of favorite yarns.   Teacher: Amy Jones

Fair Isle Mitts - Thursdays, April 25 & May 2, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  Learn fair isle techniques while creating a pair of cute wrist warmers.  Work them up in your favorite four colors -- but don't worry, you'll only be knitting with two colors at a time.  Worked in worsted weight yarn, they will knit up quickly, and would be perfect for a gift any time of the year.  Teacher:  Amy Jones                   

Kindred Mitts - Tuesdays, May 7 & 21, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  The designer of these mitts reflects on the precious few times in our lives when we are gifted the everyday miracle of meeting a kindred spirit.  Time puts us in the same place on the same day, and our lives are forever changed by this meeting.  This experience is depicted tangibly in the lines of these mitts with slipped cables against a reverse stockinette backdrop.  They can be knit in two colors to highlight the lines, or in one color for a more subtle effect.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Pendenza Sampler Shawl -  Saturdays, March 16 & 23, April 6, 13 & 27, May 11, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 6 sessions, $60.00 plus materials.  This fun-to-knit shawl is made up of 7 different panels, each featuring a different stitch pattern.  They all combine to create an asymmetrical triangular shawl that is loads of fun to knit and even more fun to wear.  The model is knit in a self-striping cotton and is perfect for spring and summer wear.  Teacher:  Amy Jones

Pierre Shawl - Thursdays, March 21, April 11 & May 9, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  Beautiful colors, blended from band to band, accent the textured stitch patterns in this top-down shawl, designed by the incomparable Stephen West.  Bands of stripes, twisted ribbing and textured triangles compose this fun-to-knit shawl.  The DK weight gauge results in a surprisingly quick knit.  Teacher:  Dorothy Apple

Lunae Shawl - Thursdays, April 4 & 18, May 2 & 16, 2:00-4:30 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 4 sessions, $48.00 plus materials.  This shawl is a stunner!  It's most prominent design feature are the beautiful, but easy to work horizontal and vertical mosaic bands.  Amazing texture and a lovely, wearable shape and a fun construction add to it's appeal.  Intermediate skills are recommended.  Teacher:  Joyce Marshall

Butterfly/Papillon Shawl - Tuesdays, April 16 & 30, May 14, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  This exquisite shawl, whose design is reminiscent of butterfly wings, is easier than it looks!  The interesting shaped sections are created with short rows, all in garter stitch -- a truly enjoyable knit!  Knit it in two colors, or as many as you like.  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Shoal Shawl - Wednesdays, April 17, May 1 & 22, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  The familiar triangular shawl shape is made anew with a unique asymmetrical side-to-side construction.  Textural and openwork stitches are balanced in this lovely design to drape about your shoulders.  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Arpeggio Shawl - Thursdays, April 18 & 25 2:00-4:30 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  This long curving shawl is worked entirely on the bias in garter stitch with short rows throughout.  Its unique construction allows it to be worn in many different ways, as a shawl, a scarf, or capelet.  Teacher:  Dorothy Apple

Nightshift Shawl - Saturday, April 20, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., 1 sessions, $16.00 plus materials.  This gorgeous shawl is worked flat from side to side, increasing on one edge to achieve an asymmetrical triangle.  The design utilizes an I-cord edge treatment to keep it looking polished!  It can be knit in as many as six colors, or is lovely in only two.  You can create your own color pattern, or follow the designer's line-by-line instructions.  Teacher:  Dorothy Apple

Ayrton Poncho - Tuesdays, March 19 & 26, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 2 sessions, $24.00 plus materials.  Classic and understated, this top-down knit lace poncho is easy to customize to a longer or shorter length.  The stitch design pays tribute to Hertha Ayrton, an electrical engineer, physicist and inventor who became the first woman to read a paper, in 1899, at The Institution of Electrical Engineers.  Worsted or DK weight yarn make it a quick knit too!  Teacher:  Dorothy Apple

Knit Sweater Workshop - Mondays, March 18, April 1 & 15, May 6 & 20, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 5 sessions, $60.00 plus materials.  This class will be a workshop -- you pick the pattern and yarn you want (with our help if you need it) and bring it to class.  While we knit, we’ll learn from each other’s patterns by discussing techniques found in your individual patterns.  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Top Down Trapeze Pullover - Thursdays, March 21 & 28, April 11 & 25, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 4 sessions, $48.00 plus materials.  This is a great first sweater!  It is worked from the top down in one piece, with a flattering A-line shape.  The sleeves can be made any length, making it a good multi-seasonal pattern.  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Zimmermann Surprise Jacket - Tuesdays, March 26, April 9 & 23, May 7 & 21, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 5 sessions, $60.00 plus materials.  If you are not familiar with the genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann, “knitter extraordinaire,” here is a chance to sample one of her most creative designs.  The surprise jacket, which can be knitted in baby, children’s, or adult sizes, is knitted all in one piece.  The sequence of increases and decreases serves to create this rather strange shaped piece of knitted fabric that when folded, becomes a wonderful jacket -- surprise!  It is a great opportunity to use up small bits of yarn from your stash, or to plan a stunning color combination of new yarns and textures.  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Garter Stitch Jacket - Wednesdays, March 27, April 10 & 24, May 8, 2:00-4:30 p.m., 4 sessions, $48.00 plus materials.  This attractive vest-like jacket is a study in color.  Noro self-striping yarn is used along with a coordinating solid to create the design.  The pattern stitch is worked using a short row method to achieve the undulating color pattern in the garter stitch ground.  The garter stitch pattern makes the stepped nature of the short rows invisible, making it unnecessary to wrap stitches.  Teacher:  Joyce Marshall

Magic Loop Socks - Mondays, March 25, April 8 & 22, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials. Do you yearn to knit seamless socks in the round, but have a resistance to knitting on 4 or 5 double-pointed needles?  The magic loop method uses a long circular needle, looped back on itself, to create the small circular area needed.  This class is appropriate for sock knitters with sock experience on double-pointed needles, but who want to learn a new technique. Teacher: Judy Olson

Basic Socks - Wednesdays, April 24, May 8 & 22, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 6:30-9:00 p.m. 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  Skills required:  Slingshot (long-tail) cast on, knit stitch and purl stitch.  Learn the skills necessary to knit wonderful, comfortable socks.  Using double-pointed needles, you will knit the cuffs, then make and shape the heel, create a gusset, shape the toe, and learn the kitchener stitch for seaming.  Teacher:  Judy Olson

Urban Rustic Socks - Thursdays, May 2, 9 & 16, 6:30-9:00 p.m., 3 sessions, $36.00 plus materials.  These are knitted in worsted weight yarn for the perfect boot socks or house socks.  They are thick and cushy with horseshoe cables and seeded rib.  The interesting construction makes them fun to knit -- get a head start on those Christmas gifts!  Teacher:  Susan Winkler

Again, thank you for your business, your friendship, and all of the wonderful memories that owning this shop for 28 years has given me.  We have supported each other during difficult times and rejoiced with each other in times of celebration.  Cherish your loved  ones and make every day count!

Fondest regards,

Amy Jones