Allison Blevins turns love of knitting into a career
Surrounded by soft skeins of yarn in a rainbow of colors, Allison Blevins is living a dream come true.
The self-taught knitter is the co-owner of Tangle, a yarn and knitting supply store, at 525 Main St.
Customers are welcomed at the door by miniature knit sweaters strung across the window — each with a letter on the front spelling O-P-E-N (or after hours spelling C-L-O-S-E-D).
Walls of the store are lined with cubbies of stacked yarn skeins in various colors and textures — wool, alpaca, llama, cashmere, angora, cotton, linen, acrylics.
Comfortable chairs are placed about, knit blankets draped across the backs, offering a welcome, creative ambiance.
“We definitely wanted it to feel comfortable,” Blevins said. “There’s people who come and will sit and knit and hang out with their friends. And when we have classes, especially on Saturdays, this whole store is packed. There’s people everywhere knitting. It’s pretty fun.”
On Monday evenings knitters gather for “Knit Together” and the store is open just for that purpose — just sitting and knitting, she said.
Blevins was born in Wyoming and has lived in Grand Junction since the second grade.
She graduated from Palisade High School in 1999. Her husband, Jim Blevins, is a Web site designer and owner of 100 Watt Design.
They have two children — daughter Eden, who is 8, and son Honor, 6.
It wasn’t until after her son was born that Blevins was hooked on the clicking of needles.
“I got this blanket at Target that was knit and I just loved it. It was really modern and real simple but cute and I thought ‘I could make this.’ I didn’t know at the time that you could go to a yarn store and learn how to knit, so I got a book and taught myself. I kept saying ‘I’ve got to find a grandma to teach me to knit,’ ” she said.
Blevins discovered a yarn store in Palisade that has since closed. She began shopping there and eventually worked at the store and taught classes.
When the store closed, Blevins stepped in to fill the void.
“I couldn’t let it go. It was such a great group of teachers and customers and it was going to leave a real hole in the knitting world here in Grand Junction,” she said.
In August 2006 Blevins opened Tangle. Her business partner, Christina Caspari, joined her a year later.
Blevins is living a “pinch me” kind of life.
“Sometimes I kind of forget — oh yeah — I run this business on Main Street,” Blevins said. “I’ve always idolized Main Street, so being here is just kind of a dream come true, and the day-to-day, you forget that you’re living your dream. It fits in with my life. It’s the natural step for me to take and I really enjoy it. I think it would be so hard if anything ever changed, to have to have someone else to be my boss.”
Her customers are like an extended family.
“I love my customers. That’s the big reason why I opened the store. I had so many good relationships from teaching at the other store and I just couldn’t — it’s such a community — I couldn’t let it die. We have our regulars. There’s people who have gone through cancer, people who haven’t survived cancer ... that’s been really hard.”
“Babies are born and marriages come and go and you just kind of live your life with these people,” she said.
The business offers a vast inventory of yarn, fabric and the notions needed to create. In addition to sales at the store, all of the merchandise can be purchased online at Tangleonline.com.
“I don’t have any business education,” she said. “I knew how to knit before I opened the store. I had to figure out how to order from companies, how to make accounts system. I knew some bookkeeping stuff from my husband’s business. I think I just have more of a natural business sense so there’s just things that intuitively come to me, and things that I have to figure out.”
Blevins and Caspari design their own patterns and Blevins had two patterns published in a knitting book, “Pure Knits,” that was released in November.
Creating a pattern takes “a lot of math,” Blevins said. “Knitting is math. You have to know how many stitches. You have a gauge that you need to fit in or you have a giant sweater, or too small a sweater. Designing a pattern is not only coming up with the pattern but you also have to come up with all the different sizes. If you do a sweater, it’s not for the masses.”
Blevins loves the creative process.
“That’s what I love so much about knitting,” she said. “I can be creative. It’s such a great outlet and anyone can do it. You don’t have to be some artist to knit. It takes patience and perseverance to learn how to knit,” Blevins said, “but it’s so fun.”
While knitting itself doesn’t burn many calories, it serves as a healthy outlet for those wanting to drop the pounds and find something better to do with their hands than snacking.
“I’ve definitely had people say it’s a great weight loss thing. They’re not eating, they’re knitting,” she said.