Sarah Saeli and Tapley Sheresky
Purls of Fun and Friendship
By JANICE LLANES FABRY
Long gone are the days when knitting was a pastime for grannies in rocking chairs. Not only is knitting an activity for all ages, it can be engrossing, gratifying, social, and fun. Just ask longtime knitters Tapley Sheresky and Sarah Saeli, who are tapping into today’s yarn resurgence by holding knitting parties. Their Knitting for Beginners events are coming up at Sammy + Nat, the children’s store on Purchase Street, on February 4 and 18.
“Knitting is peaceful and mindful. It’s the new yoga,” noted Tapley. “It’s also a great way to use our brains, because we’re focused and actively engaged.”
“It is a way to disconnect. After all, it takes both hands, so we can’t reach for our phones,” explained Sarah. “It’s also a way to make new friends.”
Sarah and Tapley themselves met through a mutual friend a year ago and have been stitching together this knitting endeavor ever since. Having enjoyed success selling their own handmade knitting lines, they decided to team up to sell their wares at holiday boutiques and fundraisers. Their knitting parties came about because they wanted to open up a whole new world for beginners — men, women, and children — by providing them with instruction and supplies at various shops and private homes.
Purls and loops are certainly second nature to them, as both began knitting as young girls. “I spent more time knitting in high school than I should have,” recalled Tapley. When her friends started having grandchildren about six years ago, she took it up again with a vengeance.
Before long, she established XO Tapley and started selling her beautiful traditional children’s sweaters for infants to 4–year-olds through Instagram. “I enjoy seeing people’s expressions and how they appreciate things that are handmade and so personal,” said Tapley, a Rye resident of 28 years.
Sarah started knitting in middle school when a friend’s mother taught a class. “I fell in love with it and then continued teaching myself,” recalled the Greenwich resident. Five years ago, she launched Smoke & Slate (smokeandslate.com) to sell her fashionable women’s hats, cowls, and head bandeaus, as well as kids and baby hats with and without faux fur pompoms. What started out as a hobby became a full-time job. Last year, she sold over 250 hats to private clients, as well as various retailers in Rye, Connecticut, and Boston.
Sarah’s breathable cashmere-like merino wool and chunky look complement Tapley’s finer, intricate soft wool sweaters splendidly. Both knitters incorporate a Fair Isle style with natural colors or a pastel palette. They are also united in their commitment to the environment.
As Sarah explained, “People are becoming much more conscious about their clothing purchases and are moving away from fast fashion towards products that are well made with sustainably sourced, high-quality materials. Our merchandise can be worn for a lifetime and passed down from generation to generation.”
Neither Tapley nor Sarah can sit at home or travel or wait in a doctor’s office without knitting, Sarah with her size 17 needle, Tapley with her size 3. “I knit when I should probably be doing something else,” admitted Tapley. “It’s so addictive,” added Sarah.
As far as their knitting parties, they’re excited about sharing their passion and expertise. The two-hour interactive session, limited to 20 people, costs $75 and includes a project tote with yarn, needles, and a custom pattern. In addition, the entrepreneurs are available to assist if questions or problems arise afterwards.
“Everyone feels really proud of themselves when they create something they can wear or gift,” remarked Tapley. “Knitting is the great morale booster.”
For a calendar of upcoming events and registration, visit www.smokeandslate.com. Both experienced and novice knitters are always welcome. For their handmade merchandise, visit their Instagram accounts @smokeandslate and @xoTapley.