Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

J.L. Sousa/Register

If Blues, Brews & BBQ isn’t your thing, this might be a good day to clean the gutters or organize that sock drawer.

If, however, you like the blues, love micro-brewed beers and believe that taste buds were created to savor the flavor of barbecue, go downtown today, between noon and 6 p.m., and feast on all three.

The gutters and socks can wait. Free admission and parking. Visit DoNapa.com for a complete performance schedule.

A real stitch…

Marcie Schwartz, co-owner with her daughter Jess Mosher of Yarns on First, at 1305 First St., was a fan of the store a dozen years ago, before it even opened.

“Jess and I peered in the window as it was being built. We couldn’t wait for it to open,” said Schwartz.

To say the women are passionate knitters is an understatement. Schwartz started knitting when she was six, and passed her love of the craft on to her children and grandchildren.

One grandson recently made a hat for his violin teacher. Mosher is every bit her mother’s daughter – when she isn’t working in the store, she teaches Handwork (knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing and needlework) at Stonebridge School.

Their passion is not unusual in the knitting world. Schwartz says aficionados seek out knitting stores when they visit new towns.

“I went to six different places the last time I traveled.” Part of that is the community that exists among knitters. Yarns on First has a large table in the front of the store, where customers-turned-friends now spend hours knitting and talking.

“There are several women who’ve been coming in here for over 10 years.”

When Schwartz and her husband, Randy, moved to Napa in 2008 to be with Mosher and her family, she herself sat at that table as a customer.

Four years later, when the owner decided to sell, Schwartz didn’t hesitate before buying the business. Hundreds of skeins of colorful yarns, artfully displayed on the interior walls, make walking into Yarns on First a visual pleasure.

The owners further decorate with blankets, shawls and clothing items they hand-crafted.

“When people realize that they can make really beautiful clothing, things they can wear themselves or give as gifts, it sort of clicks for them.”

The owners offer merchandise at a wide variety of price levels to make knitting accessible to anyone. Schwartz loves to buy locally.

She carries yarns from Twirl, a Napa yarn producer.

“The owner, Mary Pettis-Sarley, raises her own sheep and uses dyes made from plants grown in her yard,” said Schwartz. “The quality is amazing.”

Schwartz and Mosher avoid polyester and other synthetic products that don’t hold up with time. Most yarns are purchased in the U.S., as well as from well-known producers in South America, Italy, and Australia.

New knitters can take private lessons or sign up for fall classes. Yarns on First is open Tuesday through Sunday. 257-1363 or yarnsonfirst.com.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or craig@donapa.com.

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