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Edina native Allie Smulka realized her love for knitting while working odd hours as a news reporter in Iowa right out of college. What started as a way to pass the time turned into a flourishing side gig called CloseKnitMN (think handmade hats, shawls, cowls and the like). We asked Krug to tell us a little more about her hobby turned hustle.

How did you get into knitting?

I first started knitting with my mom when I was in middle school. We started knitting thinking it would be a fun hobby we would do together — that didn’t happen. Knitting is truly a love/hate craft. Your mind and body either love it or you get frustrated and wind up wound up in tangled bits of yarn.

I loved it and really got into the craft while living and working in Iowa. My schedule was flipped from the rest of the world (getting into work at 1:30 a.m. and leaving at noon), so I had lots of free time on my hands and decided to fill them instead with needles and yarn! I completed my first project (that looked good enough to wear in public) by watching a YouTube tutorial. I then started to alter and adjust the pattern to fit my style and started creating my own patterns from there.

How did Instagram come into the picture?

Instagram is a beautifully tangled web of makers and shakers. I started following the knitter whose YouTube tutorial taught me how to knit in the first place then got hooked from there.

It wasn’t until I decided to start selling my work that I launched CloseKnit’s Instagram page, and this was mainly because I didn’t want to annoy people following my personal page with a bunch of knitting photos. I am seriously proud of my organic cultivation of followers. It takes a lot of time, effort, staging, bending, contorting — you get the picture — to get just the right photo of your work, so to see people liking my posts and following along in my knitting journey is really rewarding.

What’s been the best part of starting CloseKnitMN?

I knit so I don’t unravel. Truly, knitting has become such a huge part of my self-care routine. Beyond that, I love doing markets and shows. While I might get slightly stressed leading up to the event getting everything in order, I absolutely love watching people try on my products. I love watching people squeeze the chunky yarn and touch and stretch my work. I love hearing people say “how perfect this would be” for their friends or family members. I especially love when people take the time to tell me about their own knitting endeavors or a special knitter in their lives.

What’s next for CloseKnitMN this spring and summer?

Spring and summer are stockpiling months for knitters. I’m already busy knitting up stockpiles of our classic and best seller, the Highland Hat (our unisex ribbed beanie). I’m also bringing back the wildly popular Tangletown Tassel Scarf as well as adding some other fun new scarf patterns for markets and to sell at Gathered Goods Company in Tonka Bay this fall and winter.

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