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More than needles and notions: Close-knit community inspires yarn boutique owner
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Photo: Todd Mizener / tmizener@qconline.com
Joy Povich, the owner of Knit and Knot, and her son Miles, in her Bettendorf business.
Ordinarily, a new mother can expect to have a few weeks off work after the birth of her child.

Joy Povich's dilemma was that she owns and operates her own business and doesn't have the staff to cover for her during maternity leave.

The solution came from an unexpected place: Customers of her yarn shop, Knit & Knot Yarn Boutique in Bettendorf, stepped forward, volunteering to work in shifts so Joy could have some time at home with her newborn.

It's all the more remarkable because Mrs. Povich had opened Knit & Knot when she was seven months pregnant. Two months later, customers she had barely met were working together to give her three weeks of maternity leave.

That special sense of community found in a yarn shop, said Mrs. Povich, is what makes her love her job.

"Since we're not from the area, we started from scratch," she said. "But we've really made some good friends in the shop and found plenty of adoptive grandmothers."

Owning a knitting shop perhaps is not the career path childhood friends of Mrs. Povich might have predicted for her. Although she was taught how to crochet by a family friend at the age of 7 and learned a lace-making technique known as tatting from her grandmother the same year, it wasn't until much later that she learned to knit.

It was a rocky beginning. Her first project was a baby blanket. Once she finished it, Mrs. Povich said she "got rid of the needles right after. I thought, 'If this is knitting, forget it!'"

But before long, she tried again, knitting a scarf and then a sweater she designed herself. After that, she was hooked. In fact, the problem-solving skills she learned along the way were one of the things that later made her think she successfully could run a knitting shop.

Mrs. Povich said between five and 10 customers come in each day to ask for help with a problem they've encountered with one of their knitting projects.

"I've never found a problem I can't solve," Mrs. Povich said. "Of course, for some, the only solution is to rip it out and start over. That's always sad. But for many projects, we can find a different solution."

Many of those same customers return later to show off their finished projects, as will other customers who want to celebrate something they've completed.

"People want to share the love and effort they put into something they've made. It's nice to be able to share in their pride," Mrs. Povich said.

Knitting stores have a unique culture.

"Here, we really want people to stay around; we want the company, we want the community, we want to get to know our customers," she said, pointing to a large table in the back half of the store where customers often can be found sitting and knitting together.

The community-building aspect of a yarn shop is one of the things that attracted Mrs. Povich to the idea of opening Knit & Knot.

"It's about passing it on, sharing that with everyone who comes in, validating the effort it takes to make something," she said.

Since opening the store in 2012, Mrs. Povich said she's learned a few things. One of the biggest business lessons is that "it's a lot easier to spend than to sell," she said with a laugh. "You get excited about products when ordering, but sometimes they aren't what customers are looking for."

In choosing yarn to stock the shop, Mrs. Povich said, it helps to be able to "imagine a project to use it for." She knits a lot of sample swatches with the yarn that comes in, and that helps, she said.

Owning the shop has been a learning experience for her husband, Jotham Povich, as well. In addition to his work as a civil engineer and his studies (he recently returned to school), Mr. Povich helps tend the store. Along the way, he has learned to knit.

And their son, Miles, now 1 1/2, has made a lot of friends as he toddles around the shop. He "doesn't know a lot of strangers," Mrs. Povich said warmly. "He says 'hi' to everyone who comes in."

Has running a yarn shop burned Mrs. Povich out on knitting? Hardly. She still enjoys knitting an hour each evening, she said.

"The longer I do it, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn," she said -- and that's what's so great about it.
If you go

Knit & Knot is located at 3359 Devils Glen Road in Bettendorf. The store is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday during the winter. During the summer, the store is closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, visit knitandknotyarn.com, or call 563-332-7378.

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