Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Knit 'n Knibble owner weaves together business and pleasure

SOUTH TAMPA

As her husband, Jim, showers and shaves, Caroline Rose Kerr sits on the bed and knits.

She knits at breakfast, watching the morning newscast, then all the way to work.

Jim's behind the wheel, Kerr says, "because driving is a waste of time. I'd rather knit."

Soul-searching eight years ago awakened Kerr to the possibility of turning avocation into vocation.

"It's the first thing I want to do in the morning and the last thing I do to wind down in the evening."

In 2004, after a dozen years commuting the East Coast as an information technology analyst for Edy's Ice Cream, Kerr opened the original Knit 'n Knibble in Palma Ceia.

Central Florida's yarn community and visiting snowbirds flocked to the small shop. "Home crafts grew after 9/11 as people looked for instant-gratification projects, like easy fashion scarves," Kerr said.

Five years later, she expanded into a strip center 2 miles south, across from Britton Plaza. Now Kerr stocks 6,000 kinds of yarn and more than 250,000 skeins of wool, acrylic, silk, soy, linen, bamboo and cotton in 60,000 colors.

"So many shades that one customer's grandson sent a handful of Sharpies in his favorite colors so she could select yarn to make him a hat for college," Kerr recalled.

• • •

The small-business owner is no less driven to succeed than in the corporate realm. Classes, help clinics, coffee and snacks promote loyalty and learning.

"I try to teach people how to really read their work, to understand the math behind the stitches, to create the prefect fit."

She's yet to encounter a pattern too intricate. With Jim's help, she was uncowed assembling a 76-piece loom with 100-plus screws.

Perhaps it was nine years serving in the Air Force. Or raising three boys and grandparenting three grandsons — all knitwear recipients, not participants, she notes.

"I'm a puzzle solver, a process person," said Kerr, 54. "I enjoy the discovery." She was 7 when an aunt taught her to knit in Cranston, R.I.

• • •

One big difference from her previous careers: Mistakes are acceptable. Indeed, she says, missed stitches can be a design element.

"I have to convince them not to rip out something that comes out differently than intended," she said. "No one knows that except the designer."

Again, those corporate communication skills come in handy.

"I feel their pain because I am a perfectionist," she said. "I help them understand that sometimes they can live with it."

A recent role reversal brought home frustrations when Kerr took up weaving last year, spurred by an advertisement for a loom that specifically uses knitting yarn.

Now she's the one turning to an experienced mentor to help "measure the warp, slay the reed, thread the heddles and tie up the treadles."

It's like learning a new language, says the very fast learner, who has woven blankets, scarves and shawls, delighting in combining colors in unexpected ways.

"And kitchen towels," she adds. "Art that you can throw in the laundry." She estimates 10 percent of Knit 'n Knibble customers are weavers.

• • •

Kerr, like many knitters, suffers from what she calls "Startitis," a burning fever to start something else just as soon as she begins a project. Wall-to-wall cubbies — two at the shop and another at home — hold projects in varying degrees of doneness.

Her helpful rationale? Any of those unfinished scarfs, sweaters, skirts or socks might help a customer visualize her own project. "Yarn doesn't look the same in a ball, you know."

She's not alone in her obsession. On a reporter's recent Thursday afternoon visit, the store buzzed with 10 chatty women, six around a long dining table and four on denim love seats. Ages 22 to 75, they sipped cappuccino, munched on lemon crunch Bundt cake and wagged their tongues.

"It's our therapy," says Nancy Haugen. "We save a lot of money coming here, believe me."

The women celebrate holidays, comfort those with illnesses and travel to annual knitting conventions.

"We're the South Tampa ladies version of Cheers," said Jan Myers, who took a road trip to New England with one of the younger women, stopping at knit shops along the way.

"We pulled out our knitting when we got stuck in traffic," Myers said.

Come closing time every Saturday night, Kerr will pack up as many as six projects before Jim comes to lock up and drive her home to West Tampa.

"On Sunday, I'll flit from one to the next, letting myself be moved by whatever inspires me."

Comments
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

ST. PETERSBURG — The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay.There was no mention of the waste released from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility ever reaching the bay in the city’s notice...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA — Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG — Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Updated: 4 hours ago