In the News

We started by selling patterns to mom’s friends and neighborhood ladies who came to the house for knitting classes. Our first big break came after placing a tiny ad in the back of Vogue Knitting. This little ad was incredibly expensive, and placing it was a big gamble on our part…especially since we moved to Guthrie shortly after it ran.

We immediately started receiving calls and mail orders (literally in the mail) from all over the world!

Magazines were a lifeline for knitters 25 years ago. You pretty much needed a subscription, for finding a knitting magazine at the grocery store and the likes was quite rare. Magazines were your source for patterns, yarn, technique, ideas. The shop listings and mail order ads in the back of the magazine were the only resource for many knitters, in that yarn shops were lacking in many respects. We advertised frequently in all of the knitting magazines for many, many years.

As a young woman in her 20s who designed knitwear, I was such an anomaly that the press began to pounce. The Edmond Sun did a feature story about me, that was picked up on the AP wire and ran in countless newspapers across the country. We’d receive mail and newspaper clippings from far and wide, simply addressed to SWAK in Guthrie. Because of our booming mail order, I was on first name basis with everyone at the post office so they knew where to find me.

After opening the shop to the public, we started advertising locally in various newspapers and magazines. This was before social media was even a concept, and most people still didn’t know what that internet thing was. And remember the phone book? I cringe at the amount of money I’ve spent advertising in the yellow pages, but back then it was a necessity. Print advertising, along with word of mouth brought people through the door, and we outgrew the tiny house in no time.

One of the challenges with designing complex intarsia designs was that no one, and I mean no one, knew how to knit these designs and have them actually look good. Mom was a perfectionist who believed her intarsia stitches should be as perfect as anything else she knit. She set out to develop techniques to perfect the technique, and in 1997 the first edition of Intarsia: A Workshop for Hand & Machine Knitting was published.

We received excellent reviews from every publication, and set out on the teaching circuit to promote the book. While compiling scrapbooks last spring, I ran across reviews that I completely forgot about. At the time I didn’t think much of them, but looking back I realized what a really big deal it was! In many of the reviews of our workshops, we made the highlight reel, side-by-side with Kaffe Fasset. WOW!

Another lifeline for knitters back in the day were mail order catalogs. Unlike online-only retailers, mail order catalogs actually HELPED the knitting industry. Many knitters squealed with glee whenever these catalogs would appear in their mailbox. Outside of magazines, these catalogs were often the only other link you’d have to the knitting world at large. Those who had nowhere, as in nowhere in their entire state, to shop relied on these catalogs for supplies. And those lucky enough to have a shop within a half-day’s drive would bring their catalog along in hopes of finding similar goods.

We were fortunate enough to have our patterns, kits, and Intarsia book featured in many of the major catalogs, including Patternworks, Wool Connection, and Cotton Clouds to name a few. They helped get our products into the hands of many more knitters, and we enjoyed a long working relationship with each of them.

I have complied many of these clippings into our IN THE NEWS scrapbook. If you take the time to flip through, I have added many annotations including the technological obstacles involved with producing print ads and a glimpse into the past. You’ll also find stories including “PANTS ON FIRE!!!”, along with the time I thought mom’s hair would literally light on fire she was so mad. So I think you’ll enjoy the read.

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29 Comments

  • Bernadette Ray

    21.12.2018 at 06:59 Reply

    I first discovered SWAK in the daily Oklahoman. I like to knit. T-shirt size small. Thank you.

  • Judy

    21.12.2018 at 07:32 Reply

    I first found SWAK on the Victorian Walk. It was in 2007 when I first moved to Oklahoma. I was immediately hooked and have been a fan ever since.
    My T-shirt size is large.
    I knit

  • Barbara Kinney

    21.12.2018 at 07:50 Reply

    A non-knitting friend, who just recently is becoming a convert (a least with the help of Keely, I am working on her) and who lives in Logan County, told me about SWAK. Since then, it has become my favorite LYS and go to place for yarn and help. I knit and crochet, but prefer knitting. I like my t-shirts in size medium. I also wanted to thank you for not only the SWAK walk down memory lane, but also a look at knitting history generally.

    • knorthup

      22.12.2018 at 10:06 Reply

      Congratulations! You’ve won a SWAK swag bag. Please pick up your prize before 1/31/19 or it will be put back in the prize hopper.

  • Debbie walker

    21.12.2018 at 08:40 Reply

    We were going to OKC for a weekend getaway so I decided to see if there were any yarn shops in the area. I fell in love with your shop the first time I went in and now we stop by every time we go to OKC. I knit and crochet but I am a beginner at both.

  • Jill Smoot

    21.12.2018 at 09:03 Reply

    Was looking for knit shops and found yours.
    I like to knit.
    Tshirt size medium

    • knorthup

      22.12.2018 at 10:05 Reply

      Congratulations! You’ve won a SWAK swag bag. Please pick up your prize before 1/31/19 or it will be put back in the prize hopper.

  • Amanda Shirley

    21.12.2018 at 09:07 Reply

    I found SWAK probably 13 years ago. I was searching for a yarn for a pattern from a new book I had. I think an internet search led me to SWAK. Knitting is my passion and my shirt size is 2x.

  • Susan Phillips

    21.12.2018 at 09:10 Reply

    I was introduced to your shop by office colleagues who would take “long lunches” in Guthrie once or twice a year. Sealed With a Kiss was always our first stop.
    Large t-shirt
    I prefer knitting.
    Thank you for sharing your history!

  • Stevie

    21.12.2018 at 09:17 Reply

    I heard about swak by walking around downtown and finding your beautiful store! I could have stayed in there for hours!! I first learned crochet and crochet more, but have recently started to learn to knit and I love it! But, I prefer crochet. XL

  • Liz Hall

    21.12.2018 at 09:17 Reply

    I just moved to Oklahoma and found it on my GPS looking for Yarn Stores nearby. First time there it felt like my kind of place.
    I prefer knitting
    XL

    • knorthup

      22.12.2018 at 10:06 Reply

      Congratulations! You’ve won a SWAK swag bag. Please pick up your prize before 1/31/19 or it will be put back in the prize hopper.

  • Barbara Seiver

    21.12.2018 at 09:44 Reply

    I found your shop in 2008 when I came to Guthrie for Oklahoma Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, as a Louisiana grand officer. Back then the Knitter published a little book, listing knit shops you could visit as you traveled, and there you were! I enjoy both knitting and crochet, but my wrists tolerate knitting best. My t-shirt size is XL.

  • Pattye McAbee

    21.12.2018 at 10:07 Reply

    Saw the ad in the back of vogue knitting. Went to the little house on the west side. It was WONDERFUL having such a great shop so close!

  • Anne Holbrook

    21.12.2018 at 10:20 Reply

    Keely, I wish I could remember exactly, but I’m sure it was before 1998, because that was the year our first grandson was born. I made a blanket , among other things. The blanket yarn was in the bathtub you still use. Of course you were still in the little house!
    I prefer knitting.
    Large

  • Anita

    21.12.2018 at 10:23 Reply

    It’s been so long ago that I don’t remember how I found you, but my first visit to SWAK was while you were still in the little house. I remember being extremely impressed with your designs.
    I prefer to knit these days, but years ago, I crocheted a lot.
    I prefer an xl t-shirt.
    I knitted intarsia quite a bit years ago but I’ve never been happy with my color joins. I need to get a copy of your moms book.

  • Patricia Riden

    21.12.2018 at 11:07 Reply

    I am really not sure how I first heard of SWAK, but i know it was through “word of mouth” – someone at Hefner Middle School may have mentioned to me that there was a new yarn shop down on Classen. Intrigued, I found the big green house, and fell in love at once. I think Mary was the first employee I met, followed soon my Keely and Sherry. It was and still is the most fun place to shop for yarn.
    I am a knitter, and my t-shirt size is a medium. Santa says I’ve been a very good girl!

  • Sarah Bailey

    21.12.2018 at 11:44 Reply

    I actually drove by the OKC shop one day so I discovered SWAK by accident. Best accident ever. That shop was my happy place for a while! I visit Guthrie regularly so I’m thrilled with your current location ( and yes, sometimes yarn is my reason for visiting!)
    I like to knit and medium shirt please.

  • Tammy Adamson

    21.12.2018 at 12:09 Reply

    I discovered you first just by enjoying window shopping in Guthrie. After taking a few knitting classes at JoAnns, I popped in to ask some questions and found out you had WAY MORE to offer than just gorgeous “real” yarn! I knit now, so that’s my favorite, but one day will learn to crochet better than I kinda do (really can’t)! Size large shirt would be great!
    Thank you so much for sharing your stories and memories. Makes you and the shop so much more special to me.

  • Linda W.

    21.12.2018 at 14:47 Reply

    1) It’s a story a love to tell. I had just started knitting again — probably at the peak of the novelty yarn craze — after many years away from it. For my birthday that year, my dear friend Karen said, “Let me take you to a REAL yarn store,” herded me into her car, and drove me to Guthrie and SWAK! I’ve learned so much about knitting and yarns and fibers over the years from Keely, the always-wonderful staff, and various classes and events. I’ve always felt welcome and appreciated there, too. I live in OKC, so I have other yarn stores closer; but that’s why SWAK is my store of choice!
    2) I prefer to knit.
    3) As big as you’ve got. 🙂

  • Sherry Irvin

    21.12.2018 at 16:11 Reply

    T shirt size – XL
    I was looking for a place to knit and learn and found a group on coupon.
    I love both knitting and crocket. I depending on what I am want to make, Each look is different.

  • BIRGIT Mosier

    21.12.2018 at 17:35 Reply

    I googled local Yarn stores after mine closed . Since we never been to Guthrie we made a trip . I do both .

  • Kathy Plummer

    21.12.2018 at 18:37 Reply

    I found you online when you had the store in OKC on Classen and then went to the Guthrie store. I remember being amazed by all the intarsia samples in Guthrie. I mostly knit and minimal crochet. T-shirt 2xl.

  • Bonnie Malone

    21.12.2018 at 19:33 Reply

    I am a knitter and I was introduced to SWAK by knitting friend Judy. My first knitted item was socks

  • Shawndalynn

    21.12.2018 at 19:38 Reply

    I was walking downtown when I first moved to Guthrie just getting to know my new town and basically going into every shop. I stepped into SWAK and my world changed I discovered good yarn. At this point I could do the very basic crochet stitch in other words chain and single crochet it was a couple more years before I learn to knit and when I did I knew where the good stuff was.
    T-shirt XXL

  • Heidi

    21.12.2018 at 22:40 Reply

    I knew SWAK was there downtown, but hadn’t stopped since at the time I was mostly sewing. Then I needed special buttons and Laurah’s didn’t have them and she suggested I check SWAK. I found the buttons at SWAK. Jump ahead to 2011, my son and daughter-in-law were expecting their first child and asked if I could be the knitting//crochet grandmother. I went to SWAK to look for yarn because I wanted great quality yarn. I hadn’t knitted for 30 years or more so I started picking up some of the classes offered at SWAK to bring myself up to date. Three grandsons later and I’m still knitting. Not much for crochet (I can do some simpler things but I learned a crochet bind off with Sherry that I really liked during a class on dish cloths). I have the knitting t-shirt but an xl crochet shirt would be fine.

  • Betty Schlotthauer

    21.12.2018 at 23:43 Reply

    I think I first discovered an ad for your shop in a crafts magazine. It was so wonderous that you were located here in Oklahoma! I planned a trip to Guthrie to specifically visit your little house. I bought the pattern for Keith’s hunting socks and you helped me pick out an appropriate yarn. Of course, I also bought the size of double point needles needed too. It was slow going for me, as I’d only had one knitting lesson as a child through our local county extension office. I persevered and finally finished the socks, though one was slightly bigger than the other. I decided that crochet was much quicker for me, until I shattered both bones of my right forearm a few years ago and as part of my rehab, decided to teach myself continental style knitting which would require less wrist action.
    I’m not a speedster by any means, but I do like the process of knitting, and usually prefer to knit. I love the elasticity of the ribbing, the smoothness of stockinette, and the infinite number of stitch combinations used in patterns.
    I would need a size 2 XL t-shirt

  • Karyn

    22.12.2018 at 06:46 Reply

    I know I didn’t make the cutoff but I still want to comment. I found SWAK by luck. I just moved to Oklahoma and Bruce was out of town. I was having a hard time and feeling lonely. My boss at the school I taught at in Dallas was from Guthrie and said I would love it so I hopped in the car and drove. Little did I know I would find the first place that would begin making me feel like Oklahoma was home. When I was walking I spotting a knitting sign (SWAK) and walked in. Everyone was friendly and Keely invited me to knit on Tuesdays. The rest is history and I am very grateful for all the Tuesdays (and other days) of friends and wonderful knitting SWAK has provided me. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Melissa

    22.12.2018 at 08:41 Reply

    Another post I am sorry I missed! I was thrilled when SWAK opened to the public – and I also remember the days when it was mail order catalogs and Vogue Knitting. Period. So grateful to have the beautiful yarns and other fun stuff at the ready!
    And such a pretty model!

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