ELLINGTON - Knitting and community service are being woven together at the Cala Lily yarn shop, 28th Creek Road in Ellington.
Examples of completed pieces, with the patterns and materials close by, Sue Cala, the shop's owner, brings much knowledge and expertise of knitting and fibers. A reading teacher at Southwestern Elementary School, Mrs. Cala became interested in knitting about 10 years ago, and as she puts it, she "was hooked." She and her husband planned the yarn shop as a retirement project, but then decided to go ahead with it earlier than planned, so that at their retirement the shop would be established. They sacrificed walk-in traffic for the convenience of having the shop on their own property, right next door to their home, instead of renting facilities elsewhere.
"Our shop is unique," Mrs. Cala said. "It's in this beautiful location, and, as we have learned, people interested in fibers will go anywhere."
Sue Cala, proprietress of The Cala Lily Yarn Shop is shown with her shop’s namesake cala lilies beside the Charity Tree, adorned with chemo caps, knitted by customers and visitors to the shop, which will be donated to Lily’s Hope, which donates the caps and wigs, to cancer patients, through WCA Hospital.
P-J photo by Sue Ann Fish
Yarns are purchased from major wholesalers, and the Cala Lily has a variety including alpaca blends, wool-and-silk blends, wool, cotton, popular sock yarns, and cashmere blends in varying weights from linen to chunky.
"I try to stock things you can't find in chain stores," Mrs. Cala said. "We also carry easy care yarns and Chia Goo bamboo needles, books and patterns, banana fibers and hemp."
The Cala Lily is also a place for non-knitters to shop, offering handcrafted greeting cards, soaps and shawl pins, as well as already completed knitted items available for sale.
And, for those interested in knitting as well as shopping the Cala Lily offers that avenue as well.
"I feel one of the reasons the shop is here is to enable us to give back to the community," Mrs. Cala said.
There are three service projects the knitters work on during the year. One group gathers Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a Prayer Shawl Ministry. There is also a Charity Tree which from January through June which knits chemo caps that are donated to Lily's Hope through WCA Hospital. Lily is a Zonta Club member, and through her group, wigs and chemo caps are given, free of charge, to cancer patients. The same Charity Tree displays hats, scarves and mittens from July through December which are then donated to the Ellington Food Pantry.
"Last year we had so many hats, mittens and scarves that we donated to other food pantries as well," Mrs. Cala said.
Non-perishable food items were collected as well for donation to the Food Pantry's families.
"There's a wonderful spirit of giving in the knitters that come in," Mrs. Cala said. "The Cala Lily is here because we were led by God. We don't know the exact reason. It's a mission, and a hobby and I hope it will be used in a positive way for the betterment of the community."
The shop also has a piece of family/local history on-site. The cash register, now in the yarn shop, graced Cala's Restaurant on East Second Street in Jamestown, formerly operated by the family of Mrs. Cala's husband, Albert.
The Cala Lily Yarn Shop is open from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. In July and August, Wednesday hours are added, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open knitting/crocheting nights are each Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with special classes and events often, and schedules of these are available at the shop, or by calling 397-9478.