Artistic Threads

Part boutique, part workshop—

L’Atelier brings women together over a still-vital handcraft

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason

In French, the word “L’Atelier” refers to an artist’s studio or workshop. It’s a fitting name for Karen Damskey’s friendly Riviera Village clothing boutique and fiber center—a place of welcome for those who find much modern-day pleasure in the fiber arts, notably knitting. “It’s a community spot that attracts a lot of different women, all ages, all personalities,” says Damskey. “They all kind of meet together, and the commonality is thread, is the knit.”

Knitting, once an activity of necessity for women and now of leisure, is treated by Damskey—a childhood enthusiast who opened the store in her 20s—as an art, versus a craft. “I believe in working with the very best fibers there are, and patterns,” she says. Consistent with this, she stocks L’Atelier with many of the finest and most exotic wares in the yarn world. There are walls of pure cashmere, silk, alpaca and more, cast in vibrant and expensive hues.

Some yarn is hand-dyed, some laced with beads or sequins, and there is a rainbow of blends. Buttons, beads and trim are plentifully stocked, with an eye on the most high-quality varieties. The non-knitter, though, may be just as easily lured into L’Atelier by the California-ease clothing in-stock, from stretchy tanks by Nikibiki to upmarket lines of swingy pants and slinky dresses, skirts and tunics.

At any hour, the U-shaped work space in the center of the store is bustling with knitters ranging from the teenage novice to the advanced artisans whose hands and needles move in quick, sure rhythm along a scarf or sweater. The mood is friendly and collaborative; there are classes, trunk shows and events, and the door is open to absolute beginners. “Come in,” says Damskey, when asked where an interested novice might start.

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“We teach free of charge.” One can also come in with a photo of a sweater they desire, for instance, and the ladies at L’Atelier will make the pattern for the customer in their size. (Beginner’s tip: Many newcomers start by knitting a scarf, but Damskey suggest that your first project be anything that is personally exciting to you.)

The joys of knitting are those that stretch beyond function—though having a luxurious new wrap sweater to wear or a sassy winter hat is a nice reward.

“It’s very much a stress reliever,” says Damskey, pointing out the portability of knitting, along with its meditative quality, that draws practitioners who just don’t like to sit still. The tactile pleasure of working with lovely hued, silken feeling yarn is another plus, as is the pleasure of having some time to oneself. “I get a lot of doctors, businesswomen,” says Damskey. “People who are on the go a lot and need something to center them.”

There are all of these rewards in knitting, and at L’Atelier yet another: a sense of community that a shared love of this ancient art inspires. The shop, which has been in existence in the Village for 40 years, and has since 2009 inhabited its current space along the central-most stretch of Catalina Avenue, continues to flourish vidal cialis 20mg. Despite technology’s continued creep into our downtime and the abundance of mass-produced knits on the market, there’s still nothing like the power of creating something exquisite and practical with one’s own hands. “The whole idea is you can dream up anything you want,” says Damskey of knitting.

“And then you can make it come true.”

L’ATELIER

1722 S. Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 | 310.540.4440 | latelier.com

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