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I was an avid sock knitter when Lorilee Beltman opened City Knitting in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2005. I’ll never forget the first time I walked into her store, on my lunch break, just after it opened. She greeted me warmly and after a friendly conversation, learning my level of knitting and what I enjoyed knitting, she offered to teach me her own continental knitting technique. I was pressed for time, but promised to be back.

And back I went. City Knitting became part of my 3/50 Project (choose three locally-owned shops and commit to spend $50 per month). I bought much of my yarn at City Knitting (always spending more than I planned, especially after perusing her clearance rack!) and discovered many very cool patterns (Wrap-Me-Up, oh yes!). It became my Saturday morning knitting spot with my daughter before she moved away, and then I gained knitting buddies among those who regularly gathered on the red couch and the chairs that surrounded it.

During the City Knitting days, I met Jared Flood of Brooklyntweed fame and I learned how to create amazing dyed yarns with Rita Pettys of Yarnhollow. And as a gift to myself, after quitting my job in 2008, I finally took Lorilee’s Continental Knitting (and Purling) class. I smiled when I recently read the DailyKnitting email that praised Lorilee’s teaching abilities, thinking, “…and I knew her ‘when’…”.

Lorilee closed City Knitting in December 2009 to pursue her love of teaching and design. Who could blame her for desiring the time to do what her heart yearned to do and to get out of the time-demanding retail business? I still miss City Knitting. No yarn shop (yet) has come close to the spirit, the karma that surrounded that wonderful space in Eastown with fibery goodness lining the brick walls.

And yes, Lorilee. I want you to know that this morning, as I began Knitscene’s bas-relief socks and its K1tbl, p1 ribbing, that I thank you again and again and again. Your technique is quick, it’s gentle on my shoulders, and it helps keep my fingers nimble. Lorilee, you are my hero!

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