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.”
OUR STORE STORY:
Purl’s Yarn Emporium opened in May 2005 on College Street in downtown Asheville. In 2008, the store moved to 10 Wall Street around the corner. 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. 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic created major barriers against in-person community. We had to 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 were grateful to find ways to support our yarny community safely and virtually through Zoom stitch gatherings, pandemic cartoons, and Crafting visions of a Better World vlogs.
We were so grateful and happy to be able to reopen our brick & mortar shop in June 2021 at 830 Hendersonville Road. We hope this new space will see many more years of folks coming together to share in creative crafting yarny community.
With the impact of the pandemic we had to let our support staff go and won’t likely be able to rehire for some time to come. But we wanted to acknowledge here the most awesomeness of Soni Pitts, Kim Coyne, and Noma Mpofu . We are thankful for all the many gifts they shared of hospitality, creativity, 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.