Around Town: Purl’s Yarn Emporium leaves Wall Street behind

TOO SPOOL FOR SCHOOL: Elizabeth and Rik Schell, owners of downtown staple Purl’s Yarn Emporium, prepare to move to a new location after a long-term closure due to the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Purl’s Yarn Emporium

Iconic Asheville staple Purl’s Yarn Emporium is relocating after over 10 years of central downtown residency — much to the initial dismay of its owners, Elizabeth and Rik Schell.

“We loved being a space where anyone could walk in and feel welcomed, regardless of their interest or knowledge of yarn,” says Elizabeth. “We tried to create a feeling of whimsy and curiosity, drawing locals and tourists alike to our little Wall Street neighborhood. We hope to continue these intentions in our new space.”

Over the years, that whimsy was publicly expressed (much to the delight of downtown strollers) through fanciful shop window displays and periodic yarn bombings near their store, which left the Flat Iron sculpture, lampposts and even the trees adorned with colorful yarn creations.

The shop was able to stay afloat at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic despite mandatory closures, relying heavily on online orders. Despite social restrictions, the Schells strived to maintain a sense of community.

“Besides our virtual stitch groups, we found creative ways to keep sending out humor and meaning,” says Elizabeth. This included a window display created last summer promoting pandemic safety.

But ultimately, rent without reopening proved unsustainable. As they make the transition to their new location, the Schells encourage continued community support — not just for the emporium, but for any local business that has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

“Any small business that’s trying to reopen or just continue to survive after this past year needs all the support they can get,” says Elizabeth. “We hope folks will come check out our new space once we open on Wednesday, June 16, and just generally help spread the word about our new location and hours.”

Purl’s Yarn Emporium will open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 16, at 830 Hendersonville Road; store hours will be Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Learn more about the emporium at

Bluff Mountain Festival goes virtual

The Bluff Mountain Music Festival will look slightly different this year, but the grassroots event remains dedicated to sharing the same message it has since it was first founded in 1996: Show the mountain some love and have fun doing it.

“Celebrating the 25th year of the festival is important because the festival itself is a testament to the resolve of a community,” says festival director Brandon Johnson. “The people that founded this festival had  — and still have — a deep love for Bluff Mountain, which is just an outlet for a deep love of and connection to the landscape and lifestyle of the mountains.”

Adaptation is the name of the game, though Johnson notes replacing live music is no small feat. “There’s no way that a virtual festival can beat the real deal, but it does allow us to traverse time and space and showcase a range of past and freshly recorded performances,” he adds. “It also allows us to share some performances from some of our friends that are no longer with us.”

The virtual event will take place Saturday, June 12, and will air at 2, 4 and 7 p.m. on the Madison County Arts Council Facebook page. To learn more, visit

Mica Mine and feelin’ fine

Local poet Michael Hettich was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and grew up in the suburbs of NYC before moving to Black Mountain with his family. His most recent book of poetry, The Mica Mine, won the Lena Shull Book Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society. “The book is essentially a meditation on environment, place, family and our yearning for connection with the nonhuman world,” says the poet.

To purchase a copy, visit

Calling all makers

The Big Crafty, a biannual craft fair that highlights the talent of local makers, is looking for participants for its Sunday, July 11, event in Pack Square Park. Making a comeback after a COVID-induced hiatus, the fair hopes to round up roughly 150 artists to help build community while supporting the arts. To learn more, visit

And calling all musicians

For the more musically inclined, 103.3 Asheville FM, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Make Noise are partnering up and extending an invitation to local sound makers (of any variety) looking for the chance to show off their chops.

“Asheville FM is proud to highlight the art of sound, in all forms,” says KP Whaley of Asheville FM. “We hope the local community of DJs, spoken-word artists and others who entertain in this way can be recognized through this experience.”

To learn more, visit


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