We are the Other - Urban Knitters, StevenBe, Mpls, MN (2012)
A utility box has never looked this good, sweatered in a kaleidoscope of flower-patterned yarn, hinting to the unbeknownst passerby that treasures lie in the ordinary building it fronts. This yarn kingdom, known far and wide by fiber enthusiasts from Mendota Heights to Hollywood (Mischa Barton and Jennifer Aniston are said to be fans), is ruled by Steven Berg, aka Glitter Knitter Extraordinaire.
StevenBe: A Yarn Garage Workshop was born three years ago on the corner of 35th Street and Chicago Avenue South after Steven suffered a bout of what he termed as “Marilyn Monroe syndrome,” or a seven year itch. Although he had a yarn store in Rosemount that he started in 2003 with his sister Monika, he envisioned an urban oasis that would weave specialty classes, fashion shows, catered lunches, massage therapy, and classical concerts—all under a decadent chandelier where “his knitting divas can transcend and fiber the day away.”
There are about 70 members, mostly women (one twenty-something male found his passion in college after reading Knitting With Balls: A Hands-On Guide to Knitting for the Modern Man). Some members found their way there after encountering Steven on the knitting cruises that he conducts to the Caribbean, England, and Iceland. Next up is South Africa.
Many talked about their flamboyant guru with a mirthful reverence. One woman struggled to express the StevenBe experience. “You come just…because.” She paused, searching, and then said in a definitive voice, “Just. Because.” The knitter next to her nodded knowingly.
His mother, who raised him in rural Wisconsin, spoke about his origin matter-of-factly, barely looking up from her needles: “I pressed him into it. Didn’t want him to run with the wild boys, smashing mailboxes and bragging the next day about how many they ruined.”
Steven walked by. “Fiber is what binds us.” He is constantly spinning yarn aphorisms, such as, “Yarn is my medium; knitting is my technique.” “There are no mistakes only variations.” And when I mentioned that I noticed college students knitting during lectures at Carleton, he replied quickly, “Studies show that knitting helps people concentrate more instead of looking at Suzie’s ass.”