(Kn)it’s Always Sunny in Grandma’s Spinning Wheel!

Noelle and
April 27, 2022

Some people start businesses for the thrill of the adventure, others do it for the money. On rare occasions, some do it for passion and a haircut.

That’s how it was for Vicky Konecky, owner of Grandma’s Spinning Wheel, a crafts shop located at E Tanque Verde. Crafts were always a big part of Vicky’s life; her mom taught her to knit and crochet at a young age, then Vicky took it from there to learn to weave, spin, and macrame. However, the idea of turning these crafts into a business never crossed her mind since she was so busy teaching social studies and sciences in local school districts. One fateful day, though, days after she had retired, she stepped out of her car at Tanque Verde plaza to get her usual haircut. Then a miracle happened.; she saw a “For Rent” sign hanging in a storefront, and in her mind, she saw that place becoming a crafts shop — her crafts shop. Without missing a beat — or her haircut — Vicky went about locating the owner and renting the space. Fourteen years later she remains a proud proprietor of Grandma’s Spinning Wheel.

Feeling a little skein-dalous

After discovering our mutual love of knitting and handicrafts. we co-authors searched online, found Grandma’s, and decided to visit the place. Upon walking in, the first thing that we noticed was how quiet and picturesque it is. The walls and aisles are covered in yarn which made moving around the shop feel almost like walking into a pillow fort. To the left of the entrance, there are some cute wooden baskets to hold while you shop around. There are all types of colors and yarns you could think of hanging on the walls.  There were also different types of yarn weights to make either really chunky and sturdy knit pieces or flowy hats and knit shirts.

One part that was surprising to us was that they sold yarns in twists/braids called skeins, rather than the ball shape we usually found yarn in. While the yarn was everywhere, it was very well-organized and the owners made use of the shop’s small space so that there was enough space to walk around. If you walk forward from the entrance to the back of the shop you’ll see two parallel walls containing different types of needles, some we haven’t seen or heard of before. In the backroom to the left of the needle wall, there is a large open area where the shop holds classes/clubs and stores all its fiber for creating your own yarn! The shop also has this gorgeous wall with white diamond boxes that contain fiber of all colors of the rainbow! 

Knit Me, Baby, One More Time

The staff at the shop was friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.  While pondering the wall of many needles, we found ourselves confused about a couple of items. There were what seemed to be crochet needles with extenders on the bottom, trinkets with many moveable parts, and many small keychains.  Cassondra, the owners’ daughter,  explained the yarn spinning process to Noelle who was curious when she saw her spinning two spools of yarn together. Because Noelle had never seen spinning up close before, she took the learning opportunity to see how the fiber gets spun into yarn balls and why there were two spools being combined into one.

Another helpful staff person on hand was Jessica; she helped explain to Noelle the process of how the yarn is made starting with the wool of a sheep to the final product you see on shelves! She described how they had to choose which parts of the sheep wool to keep, how the washing process goes, and how to spin two strands of yarn together to make the yarn on display! She even explained how each different type of yarn sold there could be used for different projects; an example of this is when she told Noelle how double knitting ( DK ) weight was really good for making projects drape well and that it’s great for garments!

Another friendly face belongs to Michael Konecky, Vicky’s husband, who proved to be an amiable conversationalist. We found talking with him to be easy and is another example of a friendly and homey employee! He gave us lots of information about the shop like how Vicky decided where its location was going to be. He also told us that he helps manage the website and takes photos for the website. Michael never let there be a dull moment when we talked and told us that he would be extremely happy to see more students from the University of Arizona. Perhaps it’s time for us wildcats to get our needles out!

What items might you expect here?

While there are many amazing and high-quality items sold here, we have some favorites! Knitting kits are packages that contain the yarn and patterns you need to knit a particular piece, and this store has a couple of notable ones. Noelle’s favorite is a sunset-colored hat with a black brim and black silhouette of forest trees across the main part of the hat. A plus is that the kit is in a very cute clear take-out container!

Salim’s favorite item was one of Sandi Kramer’s hand-dyed yarns that are to the right of the entrance. Sandi Kramer considers herself a colorist and after seeing the yarn she dyes, we wholeheartedly agree. She even makes hand-dyed yarns with glitter! Her purple ombre glitter yarn is one of Salim’s favorites and while the glitter doesn’t show up in photos, it definitely shows up super clearly in person and is bound to many any knit piece shine!

Wool you like to knit with me?

Grandma’s also offers classes and clubs for those looking to learn or find a sense of community with knitting. Some of the instructors we met are Sandi Kramer and the owner, Vicky Konecky. While speaking with Sandi she explained to us the whole process of dying yarn with organic or chemical dyes. She was super knowledgeable and able to answer any question we asked about the process so you know that if you book a class you are in for a real learning experience! 

One event that we attended was the Knit Night which happens every Wednesday till 8 pm. While there is no exact start time, most people started to trickle in around 5:30. Because Salim is not an avid knitter, Noelle ended up having to teach him. A problem arose because Salim is left-handed and Noelle only knew right-handed knitting. However, one employee, Jessica, came to the rescue and helped both of us out by showing us that right-handed knitting is the reverse of left-handed knitting and Salim just has to look at Noelle’s work backward. This made the teaching process a lot easier for Noelle!

We both loved the companionable atmosphere at knit night. Someone had brought cookies for the group to share, and everyone was talking and laughing. There were jokes about someone using ugly yarn colors, talk about trips they’ve taken, or about the current projects they are working on and who they are for. While it may have been daunting at first to be in front of people who were all more experienced than us, they were very encouraging and made us feel comfortable and included.

The sense of community was great and we were both included in their conversations and we never felt left out. Another social event that Noelle walked into was the Sock Club. When going to Grandma’s to take extra photos, it happened that that morning the sock knitting club was meeting and urged her to sit down and join them even though she hadn’t brought any needles that day. After talking to some of them about the logistics of how sock making works she ended up buying a ball of sock yarn and started knitting a sock that night! 

Grandma’s Spinning Wheel is more than just a yarn shop. It is a vibrant community made up of wonderful people who have been brought together by their love of this beautiful craft. 

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Noelle Healey-Stewart is a Computer Science major who loves to knit and cross-stitch in her free time. Salim Choura is a Computer Science major too, and he likes vanilla mochi and caramel ribbon crunch frappucinos.