Sunday, April 18, 2021
Valley Residents Turn to Needlepoint and Knitting to Relieve Stress During Pandemic
Owner Patricia Lirk likens her offerings to a candy shop.
Saturday, March 20, 2021


Anxious? Consider starting a new creative hobby with your hands and--who knows?--you may end up with a passion like Patricia Lirk, owner of Sun Valley Needle Arts in Ketchum.

“I think there are more people knitting and doing needlepoint than before the pandemic,” she says.

“It’s a very calming thing to do like meditation,” she adds. “And even regenerative. There are studies that have been done in people who do these repetitive activities and they show a decrease in stress and blood pressure levels. It can also heighten the immune system.”

Local artist Tina Cole hand-paints exclusive canvases for Sun Valley Needle Arts.

Wanting to leave city life behind, Lirk moved with her family to the Wood River Valley from Los Angeles 30 years ago.

She had grown up in San Francisco where her parents ran a drapery business. All of the siblings learned how to sew, but it wasn’t until Lirk was pregnant with her first child that she started needlepointing.

Lirk worked at Isabel’s Knitting and Needlepoint in Ketchum and eventually ended up taking over the business, renaming it, and then moving it from upstairs at The Galleria to downstairs at the Magic Lantern at 190 First Ave. N.

Store foot traffic has fallen off since COVID. But even on the coldest days her door is open to bring in fresh air.  And Lirk has added a new air filtration system indoors.

This Sun Valley doorstop is a best-seller.

Clients still show up at the shop on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. for the weekly stitch group--just seated farther apart.  Drop-ins and visitors are always welcome to join the regulars who come and work on whatever project they have going. Free advice is doled out, but it’s mostly the camaraderie that keeps customers coming back.

“There’s a lot of sharing, and they help each other out,” Lirk says.

When some clients expressed discomfort about meeting inside, a group opted to gather outside at the nearby Forest Service Park during the warmer weather. As it grew cooler, the group turned to Zoom last fall. Now the friends who met through the store stitch together every Monday, regardless of whether they are in town or in Texas, Mexico, New Orleans or San Diego.

In another shift since the pandemic started, Lirk finds herself doing more private instruction these days. And that’s on top of the commissioned work she does. She’s currently needlepointing five Christmas stockings for a family, and figures she stitches for about four hours every evening. Huddled over a canvas with a lighted magnifier attached to it and then another light source behind her, she gets up every hour and a half to take a break.

These one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings will brighten any home.

She believes needlepointing, knitting and crocheting can actively guard against arthritis in the hands.  However, should a problem arise, her solution for achy fingers is to soak them in hot water for five minutes and then flex them.

Lirk suggests stitching words such as “Noël” or “Peace,” rather than names on Christmas stockings so they can become family heirlooms. They are, after all, a considerable “investment.”

A hand-painted canvas can run more than $600 at the high end, then there’s the hand-dyed yarn, stitching labor, and the cost to finish the product. Lirk employs three local women to do the final part, which involves blocking the completed canvas, spraying it on a board, and adding trim. The total could tally up to $2,000 per stocking.

One of the most popular items Lirk sells is a canvas to make a doorstop depicting the iconic Sun Valley Red Barn, a Christmas tree, skis and poles.

You could get started on next year’s Christmas stocking right now with this Tina Cole canvas.

She also carries canvases that local artist Tina Cole hand-paints exclusively for the shop. They include Sheep Herder’s Wagon for $282, Galena Lodge for $292, and Baldy in Winter for $200.

Lirk used to get yarns dyed in Idaho, but she says, “The sheep we have here are used for meat, not for wool.”

So, she usually imports her yarn from Europe except for specialty items such as Mongolian cashmere which mostly comes from goats in the Gobi Desert.  At $58 a skein, Mongolian cashmere is often dyed to order.

Lirk continues to have trunk shows where vendors bring in a lot of inventory for customers to peruse. Due to the pandemic though, classes have been put on pause.

She hopes to resume them in June with a limit of six people per class.

She plans to offer the basics such as beginning knitting, beginning needlepoint and how to make a sock, hat, scarf, cowl and sweater. Her shop is brimming with colorful finished samples to showcase the “concept.” But they are not for sale.

All the more reason for you to learn to make your own!

Interested in learning more about upcoming classes or events? Call the store at 208-928-7620 to get on an email list. Or, go to



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