Threads bind businesses together in new location

Published 8:41 am Monday, May 16, 2011

Robin Kaluahine (left), owner of Elaine’s Attic, works with some fabric at her quilting studio in its new home in Landrum. A few of the many bins of yarn in JoAnne Aldridge’s shop, The Knitter’s Nest, which shares space with Elaine's Attic. (photos by Samantha Hurst)

Elaine’s Attic, The Knitter’s Nest move to Landrum
Threads, fabrics and yarns in vibrant hues now cover the shelves lining the walls inside the 1880’s Coach House in Landrum.
As of April 1, the location became home to Elaine’s Attic, a quilting studio, and The Knitter’s Nest, a knitting store.
Shop owners Robin Kaluahine and JoAnne Aldridge felt the two businesses blended well together and would be perfect for a joint space.
“We both needed bigger spaces,” said Kaluahine. “I know we had a really weird layout in our last location that only allowed us to get three or four people in.”
That kind of space simply doesn’t work when you have at least 40 women visiting your shop for a quilting block of the month club, she said. So the two kept their eyes open for a new location they could work from together.
Aldridge first began knitting as a young girl.
“I’ve been doing it all my life and I realized I got more comments on things I made than other pieces of clothing I wear. I love to see the look on someone’s face when they get it or when they can say, ‘I made this.’”
In her shop in Lynn, Aldridge taught locals to knit together beautiful strands of yarn.
She hosts “Sit-n-knit” events on Thursdays and regular yarn “tastings” for customers to drop by and learn more about various samples of yarns to see if they fit their tastes.
“I felt that I was being led to do this, but before I knew it I outgrew that space within a year,” she said.
Aldridge opened the Knitter’s Nest in Lynn on Labor Day 2009, and soon yarn was practically spilling out the door.
Meanwhile, quilter Kaluahine basically fell into the quilting business.
Her aunt created a quilt for her made from fabric found in the attic by her grandmother, Elaine – hence the name of her business. She quickly fell in love with the history of those scraps of fabric and of the craft cherished by women for centuries.
Not long after receiving this memento of family history, a good friend purchased a sewing machine for Kaluahine, which sparked a new creative aspect in her life.
“I love the ability to be so creative,” Kaluahine said. “Plus, it provides you relaxation while at the same time having the ability to challenge yourself when you desire.”
An absence of exciting new patterns and fabric designs at stores she frequented quickly left her wanting. Her solution? Seek out fabrics and sell them herself via the Internet. Before long she had too much inventory to continue working out of her home, which pushed her to open up shop in Lynn near the chamber of commerce. That space, however, could not accommodate her growing business for long either.
Now the two have settled into their new spot and want to make sure the community knows where to find them.
“Here we get a lot more walk-by traffic,” Aldridge said.
This is good for the two women, who relish the friendships crafted through sharing their two passions.
“I enjoy fellowship like this,” Kaluahine said, glancing around the room at a handful of women cutting, stitching and ironing. “I’ve made so many friends and have learned so much from them because there are so many ladies out there who are so talented.”
Traveling to quilt shows, which Kaluahine often does, allows her to further stretch her knowledge and cycle out inventory of fabrics and patterns so that items in her new Landrum store are always fresh. She and Aldridge also work hard to keep their skills as up-to-date as possible.
“We’re here to teach for anyone who wants to learn – from kids to retirees,” Kaluahine said.
“I have a student who is 94 years old and she is learning new things all the time,” Aldridge said.
The two women hope the community will visit not only them, but Simple Simon’s, the third business occupying the Coach House. Simple Simon’s is an ice cream shop and coffee parlor located in the back section of the building.
The group plans a grand opening toward the end of May.

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