Over the course of its stay in Wenatchee, K1P2 Yarn has stitched itself into the fabric of the community by being the go-to store for knitting enthusiasts.
Michelle Nicholas took over the store, at 1012 Springwater Ave., in December of last year from Cody Lillian. Lillian opened the business in 2015.
“I knew her just from being a customer here,” Nicholas said. “She had told me she was thinking about retiring and spending more time with her husband. She asked me to buy her shop, and I thought she was kind of joking, but it turns out she was serious. If no one was going to buy it, she was going to shut it down. I couldn’t see that happen.”
Nicholas took out a loan and purchased the business so she could continue the work that Lillian was doing, keeping the name.
“It’s a knitting term,” Nicholas said. “Whenever you’re knitting, there’s abbreviations for patterns. “K” means knit, and “P” means purl, so you would know if you were a knitter. My mom didn’t understand it and thought it was silly, but my aunt got it immediately and thought it was cool. It really appeals to knitters.”
Before purchasing the business, she was a regular customer, shopping at K1P2 a minimum of once a month.
“The first time I came in, the store had just opened,” Nicholas said. “We were just visiting Wenatchee for the weekend so I was looking around for a yarn store, and I got to talking with Cody. It’s nice to get your yarn and supplies from a dedicated yarn shop instead of a big craft store because there’s so much more to pick from. We have so many different colors of yarn and different materials to work with, it’s fun to just feel them and look around the store.”
The transition to running the business wasn’t easy, but having Lillian’s guiding hand made it easier for Nicholas to adjust.
“She was with me for the first week, helping me to make sure I could get everything figured out,” Nicholas said. “I see her about once a week, and we have a knitting night on Thursday where people can come in and knit and visit. She teaches some classes for me here, so she’s been a really great help.”
Nicholas got into knitting herself after her fiance’s mother taught her how to knit while she was recovering from surgery.
“I got addicted and I’ve knitted ever since,” Nicholas said.
There’s a sizable difference between being a fervent knitter and running your own yarn shop, however.
“You definitely learn a lot more about the yarn,” Nicholas laughed. “You wouldn’t think there’s very much too it, but there’s a lot. Whenever you’re coming from picking out something you like to knowing everything about all the yarn, it can be interesting to learn how much there is to these yarns. I loved learning about it, so that made it interesting for me.”
Having experience as a knitter made it easier for Nicholas to know the products and run the business, and conversely, operating the business has made her a better knitter.
“Knowing more about fibers helps me know what my final product is going to turn out like,” Nicholas said. “I’ve been pretty good at knitting, and it’s nice to work on things while surrounded by yarn when I’m waiting for people to come in.”
Despite her expertise in knitting, Nicholas doesn’t offer hand-knit items for sale in the store. She is open, however, to taking commissions for items.
“I would make people items if they requested them,” Nicholas said. “So much time goes into making a garment, that selling products for your time is really expensive. (I have a) sweater that I spent 20 to 40 hours on. There’s people out there who would pay for it, but I’d rather knit something to order.”
While a wide range of people come through the doors of K1P2, most customers are ages 40-70, Nicholas said.
“There are a few people in their 20s who come through here, and some men who are knitters and crocheters too,” Nicholas said. “All the male knitters are younger.”
Being a knitter means that all the customers that she gets to work with are her kind of people.
“Everyone who knits is very friendly, happy, and interested in other people’s work,” Nicholas said. “They’ll always want to ask you what you’re making and how you’re making it. They share tips and trick with people and they’re very easy people to be around. Knitting can really bring people together. You see someone working on a piece and it starts a conversation.”
The community that knitters develop with each other makes it easier for Nicholas to connect with her customers.
“Days can vary,” Nicholas said. “I have a lot of regular customers that I see every week, or once every two weeks. That allows you to get on first-name basis with the customers and that can be really fun. They’re all really nice. If I had to average it out, I see seven to eight people come through here a day.”
Nicholas said that she sees her most customers during the winter.
“People do a lot more knitting in the winter,” Nicholas said. “In the spring and summer, people want to be outside. When it gets really hot, we’ll see an uptick because people want to spend their time indoors again… from my experience from being a customer, November, December, and January are really big knitting months. People want to be warm inside with a pile of yarn.”
A large pull for customers is the huge selection of yarns that K1P2 offers.
“We have stuff from all over,” Nicholas said. “We have some yarn from the Cascade area, and we have some stuff from little farms from Turkey, and Italy. From all over the place. It’s fun to see all these different styles from all over the world.”
Another pull is the knitting classes that the business offers monthly.
The knitting spirit was quickly hijacked by the entrepreneur spirit once Nicholas got her hands behind the wheel of the business.
“It’s pretty great,” Nicholas laughed. “The schedule of the business works really well for my family, and it’s really nice to handle everything myself and have things the way I want them. I kind of want everything to be right, so it’s nice to be hands-on with the business and have things they way I want them. It’s nice not to have depend on anyone else.”
Potential expansions to the business in the future may include an online yarn ordering business.
“I’ve been asked about online sales, but that’s a completely different business when you’re selling yarn,” Nicholas said. “You can’t feel the yarn or really get a sense of its color when you order it online. It can change the way your garment will turn out. Some people already know exactly what kind of yarn they want and are kind of clamoring for the online sales so we’ll see.”