This is the very first month that Melissa Salzman has owned Lovelyarns in Hampden, since taking it over from longtime proprietor Sue Caldwell. And her ownership has certainly started out with a bang.
In the wake of the November election, two Los Angeles-based friends, Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh, walked into their local knitting shop with an itch to channel their energy and do something creative. They came up with the DIY idea Pussyhat Project. With the help of their knitting instructor, the two took President-elect Donald Trump's crude term and flipped it on its head—quite literally, creating pink, cat-shaped hats.
Since then, it took the social media world by storm with knitters creating hundreds of thousands of hats, which will be on display this Saturday at the Women's March on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
"To put it this way, I just put a huge wholesale order in for pink yarn and I'm already out again. That's happened about three or four times," says Salzman. "The wintertime is usually busy for us, but this demand is extreme."
The duo behind the project reached out to Salzman a few weeks back, asking if Lovelyarns wanted to be a part of the movement. Not only is the store a drop-off point for people who want to donate hats but this past weekend, they organized a Pussyhat party at Atomic Books and dozens of people, crafters and amateurs alike, contributed to the turnout.
"We did our in-the-round pattern to make it easy for everyone," Salzman says. "There was a really good energy. For anyone that feels disillusioned, this is a great way to turn that into creativity."
Sazlman, who before owning the store was a longtime instructor, has been knitting for 15 years and says she has seen the craft go through different waves of popularity. When hip, instructional book Stitch N' Bitch came out in 2004, she saw an uptick, especially in younger knitters, and she is seeing that same energy again.
"Knitting is a communal thing anyway—a way to be social but also connect to your heritage," she says. "So I am not surprised it has spawned this community movement."
Currently, there is a waitlist for people to get a hat for Saturday, but Salzman advises customers to come by Friday afternoon when a last-minute push should come in. She also says that Lovelyarns is encouraging women to donate to a women's health organization when they come pick up their hat.
"A hat may seem like a silly thing," she says. "But it's a small way to give people a larger voice. When you see the multitude of women wearing them on Saturday, it will be a big, visual statement."