Ellie Van Houtte / Town Crier
Uncommon Threads knitting instructor Shellye McKinney wraps a skein of yarn into a ball.
In the 1950s, you could get a degree in home economics from UC Berkeley. Junior high and high school students, mostly girls, learned to sew, cook, and design their own models of China in class, while boys took up woodworking and automotive. Then came the 1970s, when culinary arts replaced home economics and both sexes felt free to explore a range of electives.
Sewing, knitting, music and art fell to the brink of education, partly due to changing roles in society and later due to budget cuts.
Lately, knitting and sewing have seen a resurgence in popularity, with the DIY craze prompting a return to once marginalized crafts.
Downtown Los Altos offers plenty of places to practice and learn home arts like knitting, crocheting, sewing, and quilting.
Visitors to Uncommon Threads can find a plethora of Rowan branded yarns as well as Jamieson, a Shetland yarn. Other varieties available include Berroco, Malabrigo, Madeline Tosh and Tahki, listed at uncommonthreads yarn.com/yarns-in-stock.
Stephanie Hein became the owner of the 30-year-old boutique four years ago. Permymetric and practical, she inherited an email list of 5,000 from the previous owner, an avowed Anglophile – hence the large stock of British wool and patterns.
Hein tackles difficult model problems from long-time customers without wasting time.
“That’s what I would do if I were you,” she advised, counting the stitches on a chart as a concerned knitter held down on a bulky sweater in progress on circular needles.
Circular needles are available in cord lengths of 16 to 40 inches and help knitters create seamless tubes. Needles can range in size from 3 to 15, and the type of thread used, from fine to bulky, affects the gauge of stitches produced.
Printed charts show knitters what to do with symbols instead of using long written instructions, but designs can get messy.
Uncommon Threads encourages knitters and crocheters to work at its back table for free.
The shop also offers popular project classes from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays. Frustrated knitters can bring their projects and receive guidance from an instructor while chatting with others. The cost is $ 95 for eight sessions.
“We have about 50 people a month taking classes and knitting or crocheting classes, and it’s a mix of skill levels,” Hein said. “La plupart des cours sont destinés aux débutants.”
Beginners often start with the Learn to Knit class, scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. The supplies are included for $ 60.
Newcomer classes have “the highest year-round attendance,” with many participants moving and pursuing friendships outside of the classroom, according to Hein.
“It’s definitely more fun knitting with friends and getting help,” she said. “You need a group to socialize with, instead of knitting alone.”
Unusual yarns enjoyed a surge in visitors on a recent Friday – out-of-towners pitched in at the Stitches West Knitting Universe convention at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Jean Swanson, a staff member, said that several customers had come to seek needles to use in the workshops of the Convention.
La plupart de la clientèle du magasin est locale et fidèle. Joyce Fanshier of San Jose said she frequents the store because “they’re very willing to let you touch” the wires. Fanshier said she didn’t knit when her children were young because “a child can pull all the stitches out of your needle” in an instant.
Fanshier’s friend, Robin Collins of Menlo Park, said she had previously visited the store and found the staff “extremely helpful”. Collins echoed Fanshier’s praise, adding that Hein is always willing to help find threads and patterns.
Uncommon Threads offers walk-in help for knitters from 3-4 p.m. Monday for $10. Crocheters looking for help can drop by the shop for help from 2-3 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month for $10. Private lessons cost $ 30 an hour.
New for spring, eh offers a knitting club for children from 8 to 12 years old. Scheduled from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, lessons, $ 15 per session, are limited to six. Experienced knitters can enroll in courses in the Fair Isle technique (two-tone knitting), how to knit socks and how to weave on looms.
Unusual Sons, 293 State St., is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. sunday.
The Makery offers supplies and classes for sewing, quilting, calligraphy, bookbinding and other crafts.
Bolts and bolts of colorful cotton fabric and wire for knitting the line of the walls, reminiscent of visitors they “entered Pinterest,” said Quilting Myriah Zaytoun.
Launched in June 2013, the manufacturer, co -owner by Mary and Brian Heffernan from H&H Co., offers local products in addition to Holland felt wool, Nepal felt balls in a “felt bar” and retail kits by instructors called “makers,” who created items on-site, according to manager Danielle Brill-Lehn.
The Makery recently launched a craft club from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every other Tuesday for the 21st and over. The registration rate is $ 55 per session, with 15 % reduction on retail prices. Champagne and materials for one project are included.
The Makery, 170 State St., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Knitters gather at 3 p.m. every other Tuesday at the Los Altos Main Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, for the Knit- and Crochet-Along charity of the month.
Each month, participants knit for a different organization, such as Warm Up America, which distributes afghans to homeless shelters.