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Craftivism & Charitable Knitting Spark Projects At Newtown's Sheep Shoppe

Nancy Gould runs the Sheep Shoppe in Newtown. It carries natural yarns and fibers, including wool, alpaca, silk, cotton, and cashmere, from many countries and the United States.
Nancy Gould runs the Sheep Shoppe in Newtown. It carries natural yarns and fibers, including wool, alpaca, silk, cotton, and cashmere, from many countries and the United States. Photo Credit: Contributed
The Sheep Shoppe yarn shop in Newtown caters to customers from age 5 to 102, both men and women.
The Sheep Shoppe yarn shop in Newtown caters to customers from age 5 to 102, both men and women. Photo Credit: Contributed

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A knit and crochet revival is driving all kinds of customers — from age 5 to 102 — to the Sheep Shoppe yarn store in Newtown.

One trend in knitting is something called craftivism, which like the word sounds, combines a craft with activism, said store owner Nancy Gould.

The Pussy Hat phenomenon that became the signature accessory of the Women's March back in January is one example of this.

"Some marchers made their own hats, but many were donated to the marchers by knitters and crocheters who contributed their time and skills to a cause they believe in," Gould said.

The store sold lots of pink yarn around the beginning of the year and continues to. "It's still popular. People are still making hats," she said.

Another trend afoot is "charitable knitting," whereby knitters make goods and donate them to organizations.

Knitting4peace.org is an example of this, said Gould, a professional knitting designer.

"I've been creating with all kinds of beautiful yarns and fibers for over 30 years. I wanted to create a community for people to explore knitting and fiber arts," Gould said of her store, which she opened back in 2013.

The store stocks mainly natural yarns and fibers such as wool, alpaca, silk, cotton, and cashmere from South America, Italy, India, and Turkey. There are also items from Connecticut and other parts of the United States, she said.

"Crochet, spinning, needle-felting, and felt-making are some of my other fiber art passions. So I knew I could help people who wanted to get started in these crafts," Gould said.

Yarn and knitting attracts kids, teens and senior citizens alike.

"I think it keeps the mind sharp," she said.

And knitting is attracting more and more men as well.

"We have some wonderful and dedicated male patrons — not only knitters but a few fishermen who come in to pick up wool for tying flies," she said. "But most of our customers are women whose kids are older and even though they may work, they have time to devote to the hobby."

Customers often come in for supplies for a particular craft project and then see samples of knitted, crocheted, felted and woven items, and leave with supplies for a new craft.

Social media has also driven the interest in yarn crafts.

"There is much inspiration on YouTube, Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram. That helps a lot of people find their way into crafts," Gould said.

"You may have heard that knitting is the new yoga. Knitting and crochet do have meditative qualities and many find the practice brings peace of mind."

Sheep Shoppe is located at 224 Main St., Newtown.

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