close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Goodbye and Good Luck...

On Sunday, Close Knit will say goodbye to Nancy Ricci, our longtime friend, employee and resident designer. Nancy, a self-described “city girl”, is off to San Francisco and New York to be closer to family and pursue her dreams. Nancy has worked at Close Knit since Summer 2007 and she has been an inspiration to staff and customers alike.

Nancy was born in Suriname and grew up in Amsterdam. She studied economics and worked in marketing and business before discovering her passion. During the summer of 2001, at a sort of crossroads and feeling that she was not on her true path, Nancy traveled to Bali for a vacation. While there, through a series of chance encounters, Nancy met her husband, an American from New York. For a while, they maintained a long-distance correspondence. However, Nancy’s future husband was in Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and, deciding that “life is too short”, flew to Amsterdam to be with Nancy. The rest, as they say, is history, and in 2005, they were married and Nancy moved from the Netherlands to the U.S.

Nancy spent most of her first two years in the States traveling to cities where her husband worked. She likened her situation to that of Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation – feeling a bit aimless, stuck in hotels in strange cities, with no real purpose.

Finding Her Passion…Knitting!

In February 2006, a coworker of Nancy’s husband, Mary, taught Nancy to knit. She gave Nancy some black worsted weight yarn, US 7 needles and taught her to cast on and knit in a hotel room somewhere in Pittsburgh. Nancy remembers her head throbbing in concentration, trying so hard to “do it right”, and afterwards, Mary taking the yarn and needles from her, inspecting the stitches, and proclaiming, “Girl, you are a knitter!”

The next day, Nancy found a local yarn shop a short walk from the hotel called Ewe Can Knit. A woman named Marleen made Nancy feel welcome, taught her to purl and inspired her to experiment and use her intuition, rather than simply following a pattern or someone else’s rules. Nancy discovered and fell in love with swatching as a result of Marleen’s sage advice.

From that point, Nancy sought out local yarn shops in each city she visited. In Philadelphia, she made a poncho from a pattern and learned to decrease and block. She also discovered that she didn’t care for double-pointed needles. In Providence, Rhode Island, she decided to make fingerless gloves and looked for a pattern, but couldn’t find what she wanted online. So, inspecting some fingerless gloves, she decided to design some for herself, meticulously taking notes in Excel. This was her first original design.

Falling in Love with Portland and Finding Close Knit

When Nancy’s husband’s job brought them to Portland, Nancy fell in love with the city. And, after years spent on the road, she decided that she would like to settle here. So, in February 2007, Nancy and her husband bought a house in Northeast Portland. She recalls a conversation with her realtor in which she lamented the fact that there was no yarn shop in the neighborhood. “But there is one,” the realtor said, "within walking distance of your new home."

Nancy remembers the first time she walked into Close Knit and the infectious laughter of the woman behind the counter. She soon met Sally, the owner, and Close Knit became her new home away from home. Nancy wanted to learn everything about knitting, and having lots of time on her hands, she signed up for every class on the schedule. In fact, she signed up for so many classes, her bill was over four hundred dollars! She remembers Sally saying that no one had ever signed up for so many classes at once.

She regularly attended Close Knit’s knit night and remembers that everyone was working from patterns - everyone except for one woman, Melinda, who was designing her own garment. “It’s easy,” Melinda told her. So, under Melinda’s tutelage, Nancy designed her first garment: a choli, a shirt worn under a sari. There was lots of ripping and reknitting, but Nancy was empowered, realizing with this project that she was capable of designing anything.

On to New Challenges and Pursuits

Two years later, Nancy has become a well-known and respected member of Portland’s knitting and design community. What is next for Nancy? She is working on the development of her blog as a source of inspiration and a support for the craft of knitting. Her goals are to share the craft, extend the joy and passion and encourage all knitters. And, she will continue to design, as long as she is having fun and feeling passionate about the craft.

Stop by the shop today or tomorrow, say goodbye to Nancy and wish her well in her future endeavors. We know that many of you have been as inspired by Nancy as we are. We will continue to stock her line of patterns at the store and you can follow Nancy on her blog, Getting Purly With It. We will miss her greatly, but are excited for her and can’t wait to see what she creates next. We know that Nancy is made for great things.


  1. What a beautiful article! for an even more beautiful woman! Nancy there are not words that can reflect on what an infectious spirit you have brought to all of us. It will be missed and carried forward with every stitch! xxoxoxo

  2. I've "met" Nancy through Twitter and find her to be inspiring, creative and a joy to chat with. I hope to meet her in person one day. I agree that she is destined for greatness. She could be at the forefront of the next wave of excellent designers if she decides to pursue that. I wish her the very best in her new home.

  3. "sniff" NOOOOOOOO!!!!! We'll miss you! I wish I was there to say goodbye in person! :( Good luck in San Francisco!

  4. It will not be the same without YOU in Portland. Lots and lots of love travel with you!

  5. Wow, having only recently found my love for knitting and started knitting like mad.. I am so inspired by this story. Thank you for sharing Nancy's journey. I look forward to following her next adventures.

  6. I 'met' Nancy when I won a pair of fingerless mitts which she designed and gave away in a contest on her, then, fairly new blog. I still consider them the most beautiful piece of knitwear I own. The choice of yarn she used, along with the delicate beading, and her design, are all exquisite. I quickly discovered through reading her blog, that not only is she extraordinarily talented (in many ways), but she is genuinely a 'nice' person. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors!