Back in the 1960s, when Linda Johnson was in California in high school, she decided she wanted to learn to knit. So she went down to the neighborhood Woolworth’s and got some yarn.
“But the yarn was so cheap that everything I made looked homemade, not handmade,” she said.
So she put away her knitting and that was that.
Johnson, along with her husband, Gary, own Linda’s Knit N’ Stitch, one of the oldest businesses in Old Town Silverdale. She’s had a knitting shop for more than 17 years and has been in her current location for most of them.
She came back into knitting when she told friends that she wanted to learn to knit.
“I’d really forgotten about my first experience knitting by then and it was just like taking on something brand new,” she said.
That led her to take a job at a yarn shop in Kitsap Mall. But after five years there, that business closed and she and all of central Kitsap County was left without a good yarn shop.
So she and her husband opened up a shop in a small house along Bayshore Drive.
“We put a lot into that house,” she said. “We put up shelves on the walls and did some decorating. And my husband began planting his gardens to create some landscaping around the place.”
But soon they outgrew that shop and moved to the old church building on the corner of Washington and Carlton.
“We needed more room,” she said. “And it just seemed like the right place to be.”
With the help of friends, all her husband’s gardens including rose bushes and dahlias were moved to the new location.
“My husband’s the gardener,” she said. “He’s from here and has always loved to garden.”
She said he started caring for the rose bushes in a somewhat funny way.
“When we were first married, he went out to buy me roses on Valentine’s Day,” she said. “But they were so expensive that he bought me a rose bush instead. And it’s just been like that ever since.”
At first the shop was housed in the basement of the church and there was a bead shop upstairs. But when the bead shop moved out, she took the opportunity to move to the first floor of the church.
“There was so much more light and the high ceilings added so much character,” she said. “And there was more space for more inventory.”
Johnson was raised in California, but moved to the Pacific Northwest after he took a job here to be near home. He retired from the Navy 24 years ago.
“He’s my back-up man,” she said. “He fixes everything that goes wrong around here. He fixes all my problems -- from moving shelving, to the computers to the electrical work.”
There’s just one rule.
“I’m not allowed to garden and he’s not allowed to knit,” she said.
Knitting isn’t a by-gone art by any means, Johnson said.
“It’s very popular with young college-age women,” she said. “They go off to college and need warm hats and scarves, so they make them. They give them to their friends and they entertain themselves when they can’t afford to go out by staying in and knitting.”
Her customers are mostly women but she does have a few men.
“Men are excellent knitters,” she said. “One man makes hats with beards and sells them online.”
Another customer is a 92-year-old woman who comes to knit every Thursday morning.
She doesn’t offer formal classes, but she’s ready and willing to answer any questions for her customers. And there are kitting groups that sit and knit in her shop.
“And when I’m busy, they help each other,” she said. “It’s really very social around here.”
The store employs four part time helpers and is open late on Wednesday evenings. She has an online newsletter on the website at www.lindasknitnstitch.com. She also has a Facebook page where daily specials are offered.
“For me it’s all about the customers and what they need,” she said. “Because without them, we wouldn’t be here.”