Jordana Merlis '90 and
Julie Isreal Carles '90
by SHERRI STEINFELD '85
Once looked down upon as old-fashioned and
maybe a bit stodgy, knitting has become the in pastime among
women of all ages and backgrounds and even among a few men. No one knows
this better than a pair of UVM alums from the class of 1990.
Jordana Merlis Jacobs and Julie Israel Carles both attended New York
Citys Bronx High School of Science but became friends at UVM,
where they shared a room in Buckham Hall as freshmen and continued to
room together throughout their college years. Among the more unexpected
lessons they took from their years in Burlington were knitting tutorials
from fellow students. Both were hooked, but couldnt have suspected
their craft would become a livelihood.
After graduating, Jacobs attended Brooklyn Law School while working
part-time at The Yarn Co., a long-established knitting store on Manhattans
Upper West Side. She practiced law for a year after her 1996 graduation
when the stores owner decided to sell the business and encouraged
Jacobs to take it on. Before taking the leap, she teamed up with friend
and fellow knitting aficionada Carles who was pursuing a career as a
physicians assistant at the time.
The longtime friends became business partners in the summer of 1997,
and today the Yarn Co. is a bustling center of creativity attracting
knittersfrom beginner to expert from all over the city
and beyond, drawn to the store by its selection of high-quality yarns,
knitting and crocheting classes, and down-home atmosphere. Customers
are often found sitting around the store's central farmhouse table,
knitting away. Jacobs and Carles have reached beyond the boundaries
of their store with a website (www.theyarnco.com), a mail-order business,
and a new book, The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits.
The Yarn Co. has received prominent mention in The New York Times,
Vogue Knitting, and the just-published Zagat 2003 New York City
Shopping, in which they are the citys highest-rated yarn store.
Inspired by the success of their book (now in its third printing) and
by their own life circumstances Jacobss son was born in
December 2002 and Carless first baby was born last summer
the pair is working on a book of baby and toddler knits, to be published
in the summer of 2004.
Why have so many, including ultra-hip Upper West Siders, embraced a
hobby that in other circumstances might be passed over as grandmotherly
and, well, uncool?
It cant hurt that knits are all over the fashion runways these
days and lately many celebrities include a pair of knitting needles
in their lifestyles of the rich and the famous, says Jacobs. She also
suggests that theres a comfort and an outlet for expression in
the low-tech handiwork. People sit at their computers at work
all day, and this is something different and creative.