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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 6, 2011

Yarn shop has new owner, old hometown appeal

By Jo E. Prout

ALTAMONT — The Spinning Room Yarn Shop here celebrated the former owner of the small business and the shop’s new owner at a “coming and going” party last Friday.

Deirdre DeSantis purchased the store at the corner of maple Avenue and Main Street from Liz Cassidy in August.

More than 30 people crowded into the tiny shop last week to share food from local farms and wine from a local business, DeSantis said, to say good-bye to Cassidy.

“The ladies had gotten together and made her a friendship quilt,” DeSantis said of Cassidy’s devoted patrons. According to shop clerk Yvette Terplak, 45 people created 56 six-inch squares that were put together into one large afghan. DeSantis said that each crafter put his or her own characteristic into the squares, with, for example, the first thing Cassidy taught them in knitting class, or with a felted section.

“I decided to sell in the beginning of April. Everybody started planning [the blanket] in May. For three months, people were passing around squares,” Cassidy said. “It’s great! It’s gorgeous!”

Cassidy, an Altamont resident, is working part-time at Indian Ladder Farms, and will soon work part-time, caring for her infant niece and nephew, twins born nine weeks ago.

“I’m still teaching classes at the yarn shop,” she said. “I think Deirdre’s going to do a great job. I’m really excited for her.”

DeSantis’s yarn shop is “in the genes,” DeSantis said. After she decided to buy the store, her mother told her that DeSantis’s great-grandmother had owned the Vincent-Jervie Yarn Shop in Massachusetts.

“My aunt has been giving me some of her things,” DeSantis said. One is a vintage knitted dress her great-grandmother made for DeSantis’s grandmother.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “She didn’t have a pattern. She just did it.”

Instructional books now cost between $12 and $25, DeSantis said. Those given to her from her great-grandmother’s shop were 25 cents, she said.

“I learned to knit five or six years ago,” she said. DeSantis, a Siena College graduate with a full-time job as a senior software developer, always wanted to own her own business, she said.

When Cassidy put the yarn shop on the market, “I decided to do it,” DeSantis said.

“I have four wonderful women who work here, plus seven teachers,” she said. Crafters teach knitting, crochet, weaving, and felting at The Spinning Room, she said. The shop is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“I am here most weeknights when we have a class, and for the knit-in at 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays,” DeSantis said.

Her extended family is still in Pittsfield, Mass., but she is settled here.

“I live on a farm in Gallupville. We have a 100 head of beef cattle,” she said. She took some of the shop classes during the winter, and, during haying season, continued knitting on her own before she took over the store, she said.

“It saves your sanity, sometimes,” DeSantis said. “Now, I don’t get to knit at all. I’m too busy.”

Her shop offers specialty materials not found in other stores, she said.

“We’ve got a lot of nice yarns,” she said, including acrylic, Merino wool, and luxury yarns. “We have some very friendly people, too,” she said. “It’s got the hometown appeal. Everybody says hello to everybody who comes in. It is a very friendly shop.”

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