Grafton shop right at home for 60 years

Yarn store that is a perfect fit in a historic wool mill prepares to celebrate six decades of catering to knitters
Ozaukee Press Staff

Grafton Yarn Store will celebrate 60 years in business this year after decades of offering an assortment of quality yarns and a space for knitters to connect, work and learn.

The shop at 1300 14th Ave. operates out of the historic Grafton Mill, which was built in 1884 along the Milwaukee river as a gristmill producing White Lily brand flour. The mill eventually was converted into worsted wool manufacturer called Badger Mills.

The mill produced and sold wool until the early 1960s. The space was then later converted into an independent yarn store.

While much of the three story mill is occupied by other shops and businesses, the Grafton Yarn Store is a vestige of the building’s days as a wool producer in a portion of the mill space.

The store offers hundreds of yarns from locations around the globe, including Japan, Uruguay and Ireland, as well as domestic options.

Classes, demos and assistance with knitting projects are also regularly offered at the store.  

Glenyss Gilliam, an employee of 15 years, said many, herself included, use knitting as a stress reliever that allows them to work with their hands to create a usable piece of clothing.

“I would not have gotten though 35 years of corporate finance without my knitting. It’s such a great tension reliever,” she said.

She said she is thankful to work in a place where she can connect with others who share her interest.

For many throughout the county, Grafton Yarn Store is more than a retailer, it is a space to gather with those who have the same passion.

Gilliam said that before the pandemic, nearly two dozen people would attend the store’s weekly open knitting night on Thursdays. While numbers are still lower, she added in-person shopping and knitting is picking up pace again.

Those who frequently come into the shop have found ways for others to benefit from their hobby, Gilliam said.

Some women who frequent the shop will knit hats for newborns at local hospitals. Others knit articles of clothing that are donated to charities, and one woman even knits toys that are given to less fortunate children in other countries.

Gilliam said the store has donated yarn to senior centers throughout the county that is used to knit clothing for those in need.

The store gives knitters a space to come together and encourages them to shair their work with others, Gilliam said.

“A lot of this is about sharing it with others and then sharing your product with others still,” she said.

While the pandemic prevented knitters from coming together for a time, Gilliam said it also created a new generation of knitters as families sought ways to stay busy at home.

She said during the pandemic, one family decided they would all learn how to knit. The father of family is especially passionate about the craft and now comes in for yarn every couple of weeks.

Noting that yarn shops are becoming less common than in the past, Gilliam said she believes The Grafton Yarn Store has stood the test of time because of quality programming, a community of friendly knitters and the store’s offering of samples knitters can reference and craft their own version of.

“When people come in here, one of the things they say brings them back to this store are all the samples,” she said.

While many people learning to knit turn to the internet for help, Gilliam said another perk of the store is being able to sit down with someone in person, look at the pattern and figure out a project.

“It’s what you can’t get online,” she said.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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