All About Purl’s

Since the beginning, a main goal of Purl’s has been to create a community gathering space—a place where knitters and crocheters (and anyone else who likes to play with yarn) can come and find help, laughter, and a space to create.  Hence, the creation of co-owners Rik & Elizabeth Schell’s mission statement for Purl’s in 2010:

“Every knitter knows that you can’t make very much after only a couple of stitches: you need a whole needle full. Purl’s is a needle full of stitches, a place for people to get knit together—to gather and swap yarns, patterns, and projects, to get and give advice and ideas. Purl’s is proud to offer yarns that are beautiful, soft, and interesting, from around the world or just around the mountain—yarns with stories. If you’ve been knit together, dropped, frogged, or reworked (like all the rest of us)—come join us at Purl’s Yarn Emporium, and you’ll leave in stitches.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has created major barriers against in-person community. We had to temporarily close our brick-and-mortar in downtown Asheville in March 2020, moving all our inventory to our home so that we could meet customer needs through online and phone sales. At the end of July 2020 we announced that this closure would be permanent and that we would continue to run the store out of our basement. Downtown rent was too dear, especially when we couldn’t see welcoming people into the space any time soon.

We thank everyone who continues to buy from our online shop and Zoom into our stitch groups. Without all the overhead, we’ll be able to keep Purl’s running for the foreseeable future. We’ll be trying to share more, inspire more, teach more, and support you more. We are creative people and we will figure out how to keep nurturing this community, how to keep us together even when we can’t get too close. 

Purl’s Yarn Emporium opened in May 2005 on College Street in downtown Asheville. In 2008, the store moved to its present location on Wall Street. In August 2010, Lindsey Rey, the original owner, decided to retire from the yarn store business and sold the store to her former customer, Elizabeth Schell, along with her husband Rik Schell. 

Elizabeth (a.k.a. “lizabee” on Ravelry) grew up in a yarn store, Happy Hooker’s, which was owned by her mother, Bonnie, back in the San Fernando Valley in California. Though she only took up knitting upon moving to Asheville from Brooklyn, NY in 2008, Elizabeth has always been involved in doing handwork of some kind. Elizabeth’s first calling is as a worship and theater artist and she loves to help people find ways to express themselves creatively. 

Rik (a.k.a. “purlinsbeard” on Ravelry) has long enjoyed warm garments made by mothers and grandmothers, but is now quite an avid knitter and crocheter himself. He has happily taught the kid’s stitch classes, our Intro to Crochet classes, and many Stitch Doctor and Yarn Dyeing sessions. We are still figuring out how to translate these into online offerings. Rik is also the in-house dyer of our Whose Sock, Adventure, and Science! yarns. Rik previously worked in publishing in New York and has also pursued certification as a Middle School teacher. He loves teaching people to craft and learning new techniques himself. 

With the impact of the pandemic we’ve had to let our support staff go. But we wanted to acknowledge here the most awesomeness of Soni Pitts, Kim Coyne, and Noma Mpofu (whose hand-dyes & stitch markers you’ll find in our online store). We are thankful for all the many gifts they shared of hospitality, customer service, and stitch support to our customers over the years. And to Marilyn Hastings who probably is responsible for the majority of people in Asheville learning to knit. When the world is safe, I’m sure she’ll be ready to help you cast on for the first time!

Purl’s Yarn Emporium on Wall Street in Asheville, NC
Eliz a.k.a. Lizabee
on Ravelry
Rik a.k.a. Purlinsbeard
on Ravelry
Prof. Purrl & Dr. Knit
Stitch Group Community