When Jeanine Bould couldn’t find the perfect sweater to go with her new pants, she decided she would just make it. After literally flying all around the world, her search was finally over. Jeanine, a flight attendant, was in Chicago when she saw the owner of a yarn store knitting with exactly the yarn she wanted. She thought of creating a sweater to match her new pants using the unique furry yarn she discovered.
“I was able to make the perfect sweater I could not find,” says Jeanine. “I’ll never forget how liberating it was to make what I could not buy.” Though a Napa resident, Jeanine decided to open her store in Walnut Creek because it’s where she likes to shop for clothes. Today, sweaters and scarves adorn Jeanine's Ygnacio Valley Rd store, fashionknit, where a dazzling array of yarn in different colors greets visitors.
Vintage suitcases from Jeanine's collection are prominently displayed paying homage to her career as a flight attendant. At the back of the store, women sit around a table used for knitting classes offered during the week, stitching their own designs. What you see in that store is all her,” says Teresa Wright, Jeanine's best friend. “She already had a vision of what she wanted the store to look like and she made it happen.”
Although she loves being a flight attendant, when the airline industry took a hit after Sept. 11, Jeanine thought of an alternative career “where I have control over my own destiny.” “I knew starting a business would suit her because she seems to be at her best when she’s doing something creative,” Wright says of her friend. “Even when we were flying, she was still knitting.” Fashion and textile sense runs in Jeanine's family. Her mother, Iona, who helps out at the store and has a fashion degree from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, also knits. “Grandma sewed dresses, suits, and gowns for Saks Fifth Avenue,” says Jeanine, who began knitting three years ago. “Because of that influence growing up, I always had a basic understanding of garment construction.” Jeanine knows exactly what she was doing at the time she was knitting each piece. “When you knit, you mark time,” says Jeanine.
Jeanine remembers making a hand-dyed, chunky fitted turtleneck pullover after Sept. 11 on her way to Barbados for vacation. At the time, security was extra tight and there was a concern about bringing needles on an airplane. “So the needles I used for the sweater were size 17 circular plastic needles. They were ideal because they looked like (ballpoint) pens,” she says. Jeanine is thrilled to join Walnut Creek’s fashion and retail community. “We’ve created a mecca here,” she says. “I was able to open my store with knitted garments. I could wear my sweaters, but it would take time to go through all of them. Now they have a home.” Her clientele consists of brand new knitters and those taking it up after a long hiatus. “People want to get back to the basics and be able to create something with their own hands.” Although knitting can be overwhelming for beginners, knitters gain new knowledge with every new project, Jeanine says. “It’s very personal, but it’s also very social,” she says. “When I’m knitting, I’m so comfortable, I’m having a party all by myself. Knitting is my friend.”
Walnut Creek Journal
First Published: 04/01/2004