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The Friday Night Knitting Club

By:Kate Jacobs

one


Open Tuesday to Saturday,

10 A.M.—8 P.M. No exceptions!



The hours of WALKER AND DAUGHTER: KNITTERS were clearly displayed in multicolored letters on a white sandwich board placed just so at the top of the stair landing. Though Georgia Walker—usually preoccupied with closing out the till and picking up the strays of yarn on the floor—rarely made a move to turn the lock until at least eight fifteen…or later.



Instead, she sat on her stool at the counter, tuning out the traffic noise from New York's busy Broadway below, reflecting on the day's sales or prepping for the beginner's knitting class she taught every afternoon to the stay-at-homes looking for some seeming stamp of authentic motherliness. She crunched the numbers with a pencil and paper, and sighed. Business was good, but it could always be better. She tugged at her long chestnut curls. It was a habit from years ago she'd never quite grown out of and by the end of each day her bangs often stood straight up. Once the bookkeeping was in order, she'd smooth out her hair, brush off any bits of eraser from her jeans and soft jersey top, her face a bit pale from concentration and lack of sun, and stand up to her full six feet (thanks to the three-inch heels on her well-worn brown leather cowboy boots).



Slowly she would walk around the shop, running her hands lightly over the piles of yarn that were meticulously sorted by color—from lime to Kelly green, rust to strawberry, cobalt to Wedgwood blue, sunburst to amber, and rows and rows of grays and creams and blacks and whites. The yarn went from exquisitely plush and smooth to itchy and nubbly, and all of it was hers. And Dakota's too, of course. Dakota, who at twelve frequently ignored her mother's instructions, loved to cross her dark eyes and savor the fuzzed-out look of the colors all merging, a rainbow blending together.



Dakota was the store mascot, one of its chief color consultants (more sparkles!), and frankly, a pretty damn good knitter already. Georgia noticed how quickly her daughter was making her projects, how particular she was becoming about the tautness of her stitches. More than once she'd been surprised to see her not-so-little-anymore girl approach a waiting customer and say with confidence: "Oh, I can help you with that. Here, we'll take this crochet hook and fix that mistake…" The shop was a work in progress; Dakota was the one thing she knew she'd done exactly right.



And yet when Georgia finally went to turn out the lights of her shop, she would often be met by a potential customer, all furrowed brow and breathless from dashing up the steep stairs to the second-floor shop, the seemingly innocuous "Can I just pop in, for a quick minute?" out of her mouth before Georgia could even insist they were done for the night. She'd open the door a little wider, knowing all too well what it was like to juggle work and kids and still try to sneak in a little something for herself on the side: reading a book, coloring her hair in the bathroom sink, taking a nap. Come in, get what you need, she'd say, putting off the short climb to her sparsely decorated apartment on the floor above. She never let any straggler stay past nine on a school night, though, because she needed to shoo her Dakota from the corner desk where she did her homework. But Georgia would never turn away a potential sale.



She'd never turn away anyone at all.







"You can go home, Anita," Georgia would say over her shoulder to the trusted friend who worked in the shop alongside her. Anita always stayed until closing time, peeking in on Dakota's studies as Georgia wondered about keeping the older woman out too late. But-even though she had the opportunity to leave, Anita, who still looked as fresh in her Chanel pantsuit as when she'd come in for her shift at three P.M., just smiled and shook her head, her silver bob falling neatly into place.



Then Georgia would step out of the door frame to let in the straggler, a resigned smile revealing the beginnings of tiny crinkles around her calm green eyes. Here we go again, her face seemed to say. But she was grateful for every person who walked through the door and took the time to make sure they had what they needed.



"Every sale is also a future sale—if you please the customer." Georgia often bored Dakota with her various theories on business. "Word of mouth is the best advertising."



And her biggest booster was Anita, who sensed when the day had been too long for Georgia and leaped in to assist. "I'd be delighted to help you," Anita often said, coming up to Georgia's side and reaching out to the last-minute shopper, ushering her inside. Anita knew and loved the nubbly textures and patterns as well as Georgia did; both had been introduced to the craft by grandmothers eager to share their secrets. Talking about knitting with the customers at Walker and Daughter was Anita's passion—second only to working with the needles herself.

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