The legacy of Blazing Needles; local knitting shop closing after 16 years
Aug 21, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: 5:19 pm
(Jessica Lowell, KSL NewsRadio)
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been non-stop orders, lines of customers and warm goodbyes since Cynthia Mills announced she was closing Blazing Needles after 16 years.
From the outside, the store near 1100 E. 1300 S. in Salt Lake City blends into the other homes in the neighborhood. The inside still has many of the original features of the home, including a fireplace, but luxury yarns line the walls.
“It took me a year to find a building that I felt comfortable, like a welcoming place for people to come,” Mills said sitting inside her shop. “And so to have a fireplace was imperative to me, which sounds a little ridiculous, but being an Oregonian, that is important.”
There are two rooms filled with yarn and even more fibers in the hallways. The room with the fireplace has a large table in the middle. Classes are taught at that table. There’s a free beginner’s class every Saturday. That table is where fiber artists gather every day to share tips and even more than that – build a community.
“The very best part of all of this is people have made lifelong friends they never would have met,” Mills said. “And they met at this table.”
Community built at Blazing Needles
Steph has been knitting for some 30 years and coming to Blazing Needles since the day it opened its doors.
She said Mills’ shop is more than just a place to buy yarn.
“You see various genders come in as well,” said Steph. “It’s for everybody. And that’s why it’s been such a community. I mean, when she first opened up, she had all these really wonderful yarns. And we’re like, ‘Oh!’ because we were just excited. We were here, and we still are all the time.”
Mills opened the shop in 2008 – during the recession.
“Somebody said, ‘Well, aren’t you afraid’ and I’m thinking, ‘Afraid of what? I’m not? Oh, no, I really can’t worry about that, because I bought the building and I only have one way to look and that’s forward,’ and we’re still here,” she said.” We just kind of put one foot in front of the other.”
16 years later, Mills survived the recession and a global pandemic. Road work has closed 1100 E. to get to the shop, but Mills says finances aren’t the reason she’s closing.
“I’m going to put myself first for a little bit,” she said.
She said despite owning a yarn shop, she hasn’t had much time for knitting over the last 16 years. So, one of her first plans is to finish knitting the last sleeve on a sweater and get the buttons sewn on.
Mills also wants to try new things like gardening and carve out time for reading a book that isn’t related to her business.
Keeping the Blazing Needles community connected
The community is still planning on sticking together, even though they’re still not entirely sure how. Mills said one running idea is starting a list of names, emails and phone numbers to try to figure out a place to gather.
Steph said the community will find a way to continue their friendships.
“People are really sad,” said Steph. “Not only because you’re going to miss this shop, but they’re going to miss Cynthia. Also, it was truly a community. If you stop and listen to the conversations, even this morning, among people, they’re reminiscing about how long they’ve been coming. How sad people keep coming up with giving Cynthia cards and hugs. And it’s more than just yarn.”
When Mills announced the shop was closing and a 25% discount on everything in the store, they got an influx of orders, and the shop was crowded with customers.
“It was a bit surprising,” Mills said.” I think we announced it on … I don’t remember which day, Friday, maybe? And by the time we opened, we had 400 online orders, which is fine. We got behind. But it’s okay.”
The shop had to close to customers for a couple of days last week to catch up on online orders and winding yarn, a free service at the shop. When they reopened on Thursday at 4 p.m., Mills said there was a line to get into the store.
Mills said she’s had one person reach out who might be interested in buying the building to continue running it as a yarn shop.
She’s also had other people reach out interested in the building, but she said for now she’s not worried about that.
Mills said there’s no set closing date yet. Blazing Needles is still hosting a donation event through Sept. 1.
“As we have products and people want to gather at this table, I want them to feel welcome,” Mills said.