March 10, 2022
Whenever you think about knitting, the first thing you probably think about are grandmas, cats with balls of yarn, itchy sweaters, glasses, and long wooden knitting needles. But knitting has evolved, and knitting is more than that now. It is no longer just your grandmother’s hobby. The art of knitting has become innovative, fun, and great for those with that pesky Millennial anxiety. In fact, knitting offers a myriad of benefits, including:
Is your interest piqued now?
If so, you’re in luck. The first Black-owned knitting store recently opened in Detroit, offering the best colors and textures you can use to create designs and become a “fiber artist,” which Sally Moore, founder, calls knitters. Named Parker Avenue, the store opened in December 2021 after Moore won a pitch competition in February 2021 with Michigan Women Forward. The heart of her pitch was focused on the societal unrest that America has experienced over the past few years.
“We need to see each other in common spaces and places, doing common things. And once we do that, we can see each other as human beings. That’s true not only across the racial divide but across the generational divide,” Moore said.
Moore is a full-time litigator. Yes, that’s right – a business owner and lawyer. She is basically a superwoman. But really, her two passions complement each other, as Moore shared that knitting helps her in the courtroom.
“My world is about listening. Despite what people might think – that it is about speaking – it’s about speaking from an informed position, and that requires a lot of listening,” Moore said. “Just like people with this craze of fidget spinners, knitting and crocheting are my fidget spinners. I would knit in the courtroom and in between on my downtime. It is counterintuitive, but the reality is that it does help you focus and listen better. And you are taking in information in a better manner because of the occupation of your hands.”
Occupying your hands can help you stay engaged and enables better memory recall. It helps eliminate distractions and roaming thoughts and encourages active listening, ultimately allowing information to sink in. Also, as previously mentioned, knitting is therapeutic. In a 2020 survey by the Craft Yarn Council, 83% of respondents make yarn creations to relieve stress. Ninety-three percent said these activities also helped them slow down. Who doesn’t need that these days?
While Moore started Parker Avenue as a solo operation, she doesn’t do it alone. Her sister and two other women, whom she refers to as “knitting geniuses,” have been incredibly helpful in her journey.
“I needed a diversity of thought to bring this together,” Moore said.
And through their collective efforts to establish and grow Parker Avenue, these women have found a community that they did not intend to find. They found support for themselves as women with breast cancer. This similarity was not something Moore sought when bringing this group of ladies together, but she said it’s nonetheless been very impactful and meaningful.
“My premise was that if you join together through fiber arts, you will build a community that will address other things. And I’ll be damned – before I even opened the doors, I had done that and done it for three very special people.”
If you’re a young professional in Metro Detroit looking for a supportive community, knitting is the hobby and Parker Avenue is the spot for you. A group of 20-something-year-old dental students has already taken advantage of Parker Avenue’s unique Friday night knitting circles, which also feature a DJ.
Some of those students were already familiar with knitting before joining Parker Avenue’s Friday night hub, and a couple picked it up, and use the knitting circles as an opportunity to learn and get help. So, don’t be intimidated if you don’t know anything about knitting: it is just another art form that you can learn with a purpose or only do to relax.
“It’s a diverse crowd that comes on Friday nights, and they are eager to get here, be here, and really engage with all the shenanigans that go along with that,” Moore said. “And maybe you’ll get a few stitches in; maybe you’ll get some help; maybe you’ll hear some fun stories.” Either way, you’ll have a lot of fun.
If you want to try your hand at knitting or just engage with an inclusive group of Detroiters, stop by Parker Avenue, located near the Dequindre Cut, the Riverwalk, and Valade Park. It’s close to where a lot of fun happens – the beach, fire pits, and delicious restaurants like Smokey G’s – so stop by while you are enjoying the city. Everyone at the store will welcome you.
And if you are questioning whether you should give knitting at Parker Avenue a shot, consider Moore’s words:
“Why not? Parker Avenue is a different vibe, and why not open yourself up to something different, something new, and something funky?”
Written by Jenny Orletski-Dehne, Let’s Detroit