At any point during the week, you will find several women gathered at Knit around a large wooden table knitting baby blankets and crocheting bags, asking one another for help when they drop a stitch and sharing pictures of their completed projects adorned on their children and grandchildren.
On Saturdays, seats are scarce as people pull up chairs wherever they can and work to complete various projects.
“Any particular day you will have different women sitting here,” owner Cheryl Lavenhar said.
This is the reason for Knit’s success, Lavenhar said, as the store celebrates 20 years in business.
Roslyn’s Knit, located at 1353 Old Northern Blvd # 3, is a local yarn supply store for various knitting and crochet projects. But it’s not that simple.
Lavenhar said that she’s a big believer in the store being a community, so an integral aspect of it is its large table in the center of the store where you can find various community members working on a diverse array of knitted projects.
This makes the store more of a community, where yes, they can buy their yarn, but can also seek out help with their projects and make close relationships with fellow knitters and crocheters gathered around the table.
Lavenhar said this brings together fellow knitters and crocheters in the community who may have no other means to connect and establish the lifelong friendships formed around the table.
Due to the community the store has fostered, Lavenhar has had loyal customers who have continued returning time after time since the store’s inception.
“I have a friend who came in when this store was first opening and her daughter-in-law was pregnant with her first grandchild,” Lavenhar said. “She came in to make a blanket and we’re still friends 20 years later.”
This epitomizes the sort of community the store builds.
She said there is no specified group, nothing exclusive of the sort, but members naturally gather on specific days and get to know each other through their habitual participation. She said this is true of the group that gathers on Saturdays, who tend to come week after week and become more familiar with one another.
“We were always welcoming to people,” Lavenhar said.
Knit does not charge people to sit at the table and receive help from their fellow knitters. Lavenhar said she doesn’t believe in that, but as long as they are buying their yarn from her, they have a seat at that table.
One loyal Knit customer used to work in Brooklyn with a local homeless shelter for teenagers and young adults.
She established the Duffle Project, which created duffle bags filled with clothes and essential items to be distributed around Christmas, which continues after her death.
Knit contributes to the project, donating knitted hats, scarves and gloves, continuing to support the project started by one of their past knitters.
“That’s the community that’s important to the store,” Lavenhar said.
During the pandemic, Lavenhar set up the store’s porch with chairs six feet apart to help people come together through a challenging time and continue contact with one another.
Knit also hosts events to bring knitters and crocheters together, including a recent yarn retreat held at the Nassau County Museum of Art and previously a “yarn crawl” emulating the idea of pub crawls, just swapping out beer for yarn.
The store also offers classes to teach new skills.
Staying in business for two decades is a feat, one that many businesses don’t reach, so there must be a secret in order to achieve that.
“No secret, just hard work,” Lavenhar said. “You have to build a community.”
She added that she’s also lucky in the growth of her business and the community she has fostered.
She said Knit is the kind of business that ebbs and flows, but the biggest change has been the introduction of social media, which she said she is still learning.
Knit has changed radically over the 20 years, but Lavenhar said she is firm that her store will never be solely an online store. She said she is strong in her belief that yarn should be felt and seen in person as the customer gets a better sense than simply seeing it on a screen.
The community within the store also changes with the seasons of life, Lavenhar said, with additions to the group being new grandmothers seeking yarn and help with a baby blanket or a young knitter learning the craft.
Even Lavenhar’s role at the store has changed over the decades. She started working at Knit as an employee, later becoming a store partner and culminating in her current role as the sole owner.
Lavenhar said this was a hectic couple of months and she doesn’t believe in celebrating after the fact, so no special celebration was planned for this anniversary. She said she will just wait until next year for their 21st.
At the end of the day, Lavenhar said Knit it is still a business where she sells yarn, but it accumulates to more than just that.
“I believe that it’s a community of people who have grown to develop over 20 years,” Lavenhar said.
Looking forward to the future, Lavenhar said she is hoping to someday conquer social media. In the meantime, she is working to expand her designs to share with knitters.
She is also looking forward to younger generations continuing the tradition and coming to sit around her table.
“I just want to continue to teach people how to knit and find the relaxation – because once you know how, it really is relaxing,” Lavenhar said. “I just want to continue to promote a sense of the joy in knitting and in the friends you meet.”