In the fabric that makes up Greenwich's knitting community, the closing of a six-year-old yarn store is the last in a long line of dropped stitches.

The Knitting Niche, a small shop in a tiny retail alcove on Mason Street, shut its doors last Saturday, leaving knitters in town with fewer resources for a hobby that has experienced a resurgence in popularity.

Some remember when it was easy to find a place to pop into for a set of needles, help with a complicated project or just to sit and purl. In recent years, many yarn stores in neighboring towns have closed, including Knit Together on High Ridge Road in Stamford and Goldman's Yarns in Hartsdale, N.Y., an 85-year-old institution.

While some have felt economic pressure, Vanessa Cayton, who opened The Knitting Niche in 2003 -- on the day of the big Northeast blackout -- decided to close to focus on raising her two young children.

"For many years, there was nothing in the area," said Cayton, 31, who recently started offering yarn and patterns online at

When Marci DeLuca moved to Greenwich in the mid-1970s, there were a couple of yarn stores in town.

"They just disappeared," said DeLuca, who was Cayton's first hire at The Knitting Niche.

Eleanor Lizza, an 88-year-old town native who knits every week at the Senior Center, remembers many resources on the town's main drag.

"Of course you could always go to Woolworth's and find whatever you needed," said Lizza of the former Greenwich Avenue department store.

While there are a growing number of online resources for buying supplies, as well as communities like, a social networking Web site for knitters and crocheters, stores offer a special environment, many say.

Sally Shulman, a town resident who took up knitting three years ago, popped into Cayton's store often for supplies and inspiration. She recently started working on a multicolored blanket from a pattern that she saw there, and received advice from people also working on the same project.

"You wouldn't get that off the Internet," said Shulman, 46. "You'd only get that by going there."

Cynthia Crescenzo, the owner of Knitting Central in Westport, one of the closer resources for residents, said most stores offer knitted samples. That's especially important for beginners to envision what they can make with a few balls of yarn.

"It really is a community, where people walk in and it's just got a contented aura about it," said Pam Grushkin, who works at Knitting Central and also provides group and semi-private knitting lessons around Fairfield County. "There's definitely a good feeling you get from having a local yarn store that offers you support and a well-trained staff."

Town residents can drive to Nancy O, a gift store in Ridgefield that sells knitting supplies. Laurie Thomas, the owner of Sticks & Strings in Scarsdale, N.Y., said many of Cayton's former customers have come in to her store recently.

"People who love this hobby, we tend to be travelers," said Thomas, who went into business five years ago after noticing a need for yarn shops open on Sundays and evenings. "We go from town to town."

Grushkin, who has been knitting for 30 years, said that while there are less stores devoted to the craft in the area, it hasn't diminished people's devotion to creating scarves and sweaters.

"People will have to work a little bit harder to find their materials," Grushkin said. "It's like any hobby that becomes a passion -- if it's really a passion, you're going to find what you need to make it work."

Staff Writer Lisa Chamoff can be reached at or 625-4439.