Now open: Harriet and Alice

Owner Kate Bispala at Harriet and Alice.
Owner Kate Bispala at Harriet and Alice.

For anyone interested in learning to knit or crochet, the new shop Harriet and Alice might be an ideal place to learn. Owner Kate Bispala taught for 16 years at St. Louis Park High School. And her mother, “Principal Purler” Jeanne Sumnicht, taught all of her students at Countryside Elementary in Edina how to knit.

“Teaching and having creative outlets are kind of in the genes,” Bispala said.

The shop is named for her late grandmothers, and their photos hang on the wall behind the register.

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Harriet Sumnicht worked as an elementary school teacher and principal in North Dakota. Bispala described her as a strong and independent 50s woman who was the “pinnacle of style.” And Alice Johnson was a stay-at-home mom who worked in a war factory in Southern Minnesota during World War II. She made all of her children’s clothes and taught Jeanne how to knit, sew and embroider.

Bispala, a Linden Hills resident, didn’t learn to knit until she was an adult. But when she did, everyone was a beneficiary.

“I knit everyone a scarf,” she said, adding that she moved on to mass produce sweaters and vests.

At her new shop, Bispala is currently working on a yoga shrug to complement YogaFit’s free outdoor yoga nights (every Thursday in July and August at 6:30 p.m. near Belleson’s).

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The shop carries jumbo-sized yarn from Love Fest Fibers. The San Francisco company offers a line of yarn that employs women from a Kathmandu community recovering from earthquake damage, and another line that spins alpaca and merino wool with recycled plastic water bottle fiber.

Other yarn brands include Malabrigo, Minnesota-based Blue Sky Fibers, Sugar Bush and Delicious Yarns.

“We sell things that are handmade as well as knit items,” Bispala said. “It makes it a little different than most yarn shops.”

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The shop carries jewelry made with repurposed vintage pieces, local signs by Uptown Woodworks, pottery by Emily Murphy, totes by KT Design and candles made from wine bottles.

Classes that launch this month include beginner classes for teens, tweens or adults, and classes for kids to make projects like hacky sacks.

The shop is located at 3922 W. 50th St. down a walkway between prAna and Evereve in the former Edina Travel storefront.

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