‘It’s an incredible change’: North America’s fastest hand knitter just opened a store near Orangeville

·3 min read

Orangeville knitters, crocheters, and yarn lovers can now celebrate the addition of a yarn specialty store within its grasps, something the town has been sorely lacking over the years.

After 37 years in Port Credit, Linda’s Craftique made its way north, settling just off Highway 10 on the 20th Sideroad.

“A large part of the draw was the area itself,” said Linda Benne, owner of the knitting shop. “It’s very artsy and very creative.”

Those looking for shops with a focus on yarns previously had the closest access in Shelburne, the GTA, or Guelph area.

Benne and her husband had a two-year plan to exit the city and move somewhere more rural, but thanks to COVID and uncontrollable circumstances, the timeline was pushed forward.

They found the perfect location — a property with both a home and commercial space, and things were set in motion.

“It’s an incredible change,” she said. “I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is to not have to pay such high rent.”

Yarn has been a part of Benne’s life since she was four years old, when her mother first taught her how to knit. Since then, it became a regular part of her life, eventually leading to her attending shows to sell her sweaters.

In fact, she knits so much that Benne has even earned herself the title of North America’s Fastest Hand Knitter by setting a record that has yet to be defeated.

Her first competition was at a consumer show in Toronto.

“One of the manufacturers was having a contest,” recalled Benne. “It was a Monday, and Mondays are notoriously slow. I was bored, so I decided I’d give it a try.”

With her first attempt, she beat the daily record. Her second, the show record. And with her third, she beat the overall record.

In another knitting competition, Benne tied against her ‘nemesis’, Wainetta, for first place at the Stitch N’ Pitch contest at a Blue Jays game, where the prize was to throw out the first pitch. The two have gone head to head multiple times, each winning at different times.

“But she still hasn’t beat my record,” chuckled Benne.

As to why she is so passionate about yarn and knitting, Benne said it all comes down to the effect it has.

“It is so healthy to create!” explained Benne. “It is so good for your soul, whether it’s knitting, baking, or sewing.”

Linda’s Craftique has a cosy atmosphere, with walls, stands, and cupboards filled with different weights, brands, and types of yarn.

“I’m extremely service oriented,” said Benne. “I have always gone above and beyond to make sure my customer gets what they want and that they’re happy with their purchase. I very much encourage them to try something a little more difficult, so that they learn something with each new project.”

Eventually, when the pandemic is over, Benne will also be offering classes and other activities.

“I have a knit nook, where I want people to feel free to bring in their projects, work and hang out,” said Benne. “In the summertime, every Sunday we’ll have a knit-in.”

While her surroundings may have changed, it seems her clientele hasn’t changed too much.

“It’s funny, because I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces that are from Orangeville, who used to drive down to Port Credit,” said Benne. “It’s always been a destination store; now it’s just a different destination.”

Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner