Needleworks shop moving to new Downtown location

It’s 30-year anniversary for the business and five-year mark for owner Lisa Whittet
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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April is a big month for Lisa Whittet, owner of Auburn Needleworks in Downtown Auburn. She is celebrating the store’s 30-year anniversary, five years as owner and moving the business from the Gold Country Mall to a more visible spot nearby on Lincoln Way. When she took over the business from previous owner June Zeri, the world of sewing was fairly new to her. “Prior to this, I was in the banking industry and I only learned how to knit three years before I bought the store,” she said. Whittet left banking to be a stay-at-home mom and 14 years later, wanted to return to the workforce. After deciding to purchase Auburn Needleworks, she spent several months working with Zeri to learn the business. Then on April 17, 2007 — five years to the day that she’ll have the grand opening at the new location — she received the keys and took over the store. Along with running the shop, she has also honed her sewing skills. “I had to learn to needlepoint real quickly,” she said. “I really do enjoy doing it. But my passion is knitting. I’ve done some fun projects. Just seeing everyone else’s work is inspiring as well.” Whittet has made only a few changes she took over. “I’ve expanded the thread line, put a little more into the yarn line and put my flair into the inventory,” she said. In addition to carrying sewing materials, the shop offers a variety of needlework classes as well as a friendly and comfortable spot for needlepointers and knitters to share ideas and work together. A year ago, Whittet introduced weaving classes, which are held on an occasional basis. “We start out making a scarf on the cricket looms,” she said. There’s also Temari — Japanese thread stitching. Tuesday is an open needlepoint day and Friday is a knitting day. “They usually are working on their own projects,” Whittet said. “It’s just a place to gather and socialize and have a good time.” On Tuesday, about two dozen women were spending the afternoon doing needlepoint projects at the shop, including Auburn resident Andrea Jensen. She’s been part of the afternoon sessions for 13 years. “It’s the social thing,” she said. “It’s like an old quilting bee.” The group includes people from as far away as Placerville, Sacramento and even Elk Grove. “It’s the only needlepoint place within 100 miles,” said Suzie Brakensiek, a Carmichael resident who has been a part of the sewing circle for 10 years. They’re all enthusiastic about the move to the new location. “It’s light and up on Lincoln Way where we can shop more,” Jensen said. Whittet decided she wanted to move the shop, which is located on the bottom floor of the Gold Country Mall, about two years ago. She began looking earnestly a couple of months ago and was very happy to find the Lincoln Way spot. “I need to see sun. I need to see out,” she said. “The timing of this place could not have been better. I feel like I’m going to be in the hubbub of downtown now.” The new location has more space, but a different layout. “Here I have a big classroom area,” Whittet said. “There it will be smaller, but I’ll have two areas where people can sit.” Eventually she plans to add more thread and yarn to the inventory. Her favorite part of owning the business is “the interaction with customers and getting excited about their projects,” she said. She sees many types of sewing projects pass through the shop — large and small done by beginners to experts. Among the many works of art she’s admired over the years was a needlepoint of a family crest. “It was probably 3 feet by 4 feet,” Whittet said. “She needlepointed the whole thing. It was huge and a lot of work. It was beautifully framed. … Anyone and everyone who brings things in, from the beginners to the proficient knitter or needleworker, I think they’re all special because people are actually doing the work.” ------------ Auburn Needleworks 839 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn (beginning Tuesday, April 17) Phone: (520) 888-0202 Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday On the Web: Grand opening at the new location will be April 17. First 50 customers will receive a free Auburn Needleworks shopping bag