By Melissa Anderson
Lisa Johnson is the owner of Hidden River Yarns, the go-to place if you're looking to get crafty. She sat down with us to talk about her favorite knitting memories, some fun projects she's gotten involved with, and what she's looking forward to this year.
How did you get into the yarn business?
When Lisa was first employed by Kelbourne Woolens, the company was approached about opening a yarn store in Manayunk. The business was too busy for that venture, so instead, Lisa was thrown into owning Hidden River Yarns, where she's been for five years. "They walked me to the edge of the cliff and drop-kicked me over," said Lisa. Between laughs she added, "Luckily, there was lots of yarn at the bottom."
Of all the ways to play with yarn—knit, sew, felt, crochet, and quilt—do you have a favorite?
Lisa has been knitting since she was about five-years-old, so she mentioned that has always been her favorite. "I enjoy its flexibility, the things you can make from it, all the different fibers, and the portability of it." Knitting really allows you to do it anywhere you want. Lisa listed off knitting on the bus, a waiting room, or a park bench as some of places you could easily tote your bag of yarn to.
What local yarn do you carry?
"I have yarns from Harrisville Designs and Peace Fleece," said Lisa, mentioning the raw wool for those are dyed right up the street at G.J. Littlewood and Son, Inc.
What is your fondest memory that involves creating something with yarn?
Lisa said some of her best memories come from not creating, but from shopping for yarn at Wilde Yarn in Manayunk when she was a teenager. When it came to looking for the right yarns to create a sweater, Lisa said, "You had to go in with a certain sense of adventure."
What are you looking forward to this season?
As we head towards spring, since it's not the knitting season, it is the slowest time for Lisa. You'll find her doing a lot of catch up as she finishes some projects that have been put to the side.
"I have plans to bring in some nationally recognized teachers into the store," Lisa added excitedly.
Who is one celebrity you'd want to knit for and what would it be?
After thinking about her answer for a bit, Lisa mentioned the craftivism movement that's been happening. "I would like to knit a She Persisted pussy hat for Meryl Streep," she said laughing.
"And then part of me is also like, I want to knit a sweater for Kevin Spacey."
Where's your favorite place to knit in Manayunk?
Without hesitating, Lisa answered her store as the best place to knit. "Especially when it snows, because it's warm and cozy and I can sit here and look out my big window. It's like a being in a reverse snowglobe."
Are there any fun projects you've had recently?
"We participated in the Pussy Hat Project," Lisa said smiling. "Leading up to the Women's March we were Pussy Hat Central," she added, holding one of the pink hats that covered hundreds heads back in January.
What are tips for someone just starting to get into knitting?
Lisa says for all the beginners out there that they need to find a good teacher. "I'm one of them," she adds laughing.
One tip Lisa mentions is to knit with the best yarn you can afford. "There's no point to ever knit or crochet with bad yarn. You just won't enjoy it as much and it won't last as long."
Do you have a certain style or do you let inspiration strike?
A lover of playing with colors, Lisa said that she gets inspiration from other artists and will knit similar designs, but chooses to switch up the colors that she uses. "Subtle is not my strong suit," she added when discussing her favorite colors, which includes jewel tones and a particular affection towards neon colors.
What's your favorite thing about Manayunk?
Lisa described Manayunk as "charming, friendly, and tasty." With her favorite things being the people. "With the community of the merchants, everyone's very supportive of each other."
If you're interested in learning how to knit, Hidden River Yarns offers an Intro to Knitting Class on March 1, 8, and 15 from 6pm to 7:30pm. Call Lisa at 215-920-2603 or stop into the shop at 4358 Main Street to reserve your spot before seats fill up.
Keep in touch with Hidden River Yarns on Facebook to learn when the teachers will be visiting the store.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127