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Lenox — if you’re looking for yarn made of buffalo fur/hair, bonnie burton of colorful stitches has you covered — warmly, and colorfully, one might add.

The first thing that strikes you upon entering burton’s yarn shop in lenox are the hundreds and hundreds brightly colored balls, skeins and hanks of yarn shelved in upright bins. It feels like a candy store, but for knitters. The second thing that strikes you is burton’s passion for knitting, yarns and her shop.

"I learned to knit at a very young age, maybe 4, from an aunt who actively knit during world war II, making socks and things for soldiers. She was the best knitter in the family," burton said. "I sat in her lap and ‘rode’ the knitting needles, much in the same way a small girl dances on her father’s feet.Merino wool I held the needle along with her as she knit."


Burton went on to knit clothes for her dolls, she said, and, in the first grade, she and her mother knitted clothes for 12-inch dolls to be given to a charity. "We did 15 dolls," she said.

"The more knitting I did, the more I liked it," she said, adding that in alexandria, va., where she grew up, there was no yarn stores at the time. "There was yarn at J.C. Penney, some department stores and ben franklin stores. We also didn’t have a lot of money, so we made use of what yarn was local."

Today, burton stocks her local store with a plethora of yarns — wool, alpaca, silk, linen, cotton, hemp and blends of those yarns.Burton said in addition, there are yarns made of fur/hair from buffalo, vicuna (a member of the camel family), a vicuna/merino wool blend, qiviut made from the undercoat of musk ox, cashmere, yak and australian possum (usually blended with merino wool for strength and stability). They also have earthtones, a yarn hand-spun by a woman in maine using prized fleeces; the label on each skein of yarn has a photo of the animal it came from and the animal’s name. There is also a special merino wool, woolfolk, from sheep bred for the finest fleece in pantagonia, south america, engineered to be fine and extremely soft.

"We have price points for all knitters," burton said. While the vicuna yarn is $310 for a one-ounce ball (which will make a small scarf), "we have an afghan yarn from romania that is basic and affordable (about $11 a skein) in 57 colors, designed by a woman in australia.25th anniversary you can use it for kids’ clothes to afghans. It’s a machine-washable wool that is good for everyday use."

This year, colorful stitches is marking its 25th anniversary in business, keeping local knitters’ — and knitters from around the country — needles humming with just about any yarn you can imagine. The shop recently marked its silver anniversary by hosting a retreat for knitters, which drew 40 paid attendees, three designers who acted as workshop instructors and vogue knitting editor-in-chief trisha malcolm. The event was hosted with vogue knitting international (" the distinctive knitting magazine that concentrates on fashion," burton said) and included a tea and shopping afternoon.Burton said

"There were 51 people in the store at one time," she said. "The group was brought from the red lion inn to the lenox store in a school bus. … There were two yarn manufacturers representatives, from shibui and berrocolo, who brought samples and five trunk shows on loan for that night. We got every mannequin in the area we could get our hands on."

Burton said plans are underway for other 25th anniversary events. On april 21, the store will take part in national local yarn store appreciation day, hosted by TNNA, a national needlework association. "It will be a potluck and sharing day," burton said. "People are asked to bring in their work in progress for a show-and-tell, and food and recipes to share for a potluck meal.Merino wool members of the staff will offer tips and tricks with your knitting. People are also asked to bring canned food for a local food pantry. We’ll also be the drop-off point for knitted projects for an charity to be announced."

So, how did burton go from knitting dresses for her dolls and her own clothes (including a few mishaps along the way — she remembers making a mini dress for a date using "super big, bulky yarn and size 25 needles. … I wore it on my date, but no one had warned me how it would grow. The armholes kept growing bigger and I kept stuffing them into my bra to make them smaller. The dress was midway to my calves by the end of the date. I was so embarrassed. I never dated him again.") to owning and running a shop considered a "destination" in the knitting community?Burton said

"As I traveled around the country, I noticed yarn stores were becoming more prevalent, and it opened my eyes to new yarns and opportunities," burton said, adding she has noticed that yarn choice and colors seem to be regional. "In minneapolis, the colors are basic, structured and somber, with a scandinavian/norwegian influence. In new orleans, the yarns are more vibrant colors and there are more novelty yarns; the yarns look like mardi gras and have a festival attitude. The yarn in the rocky mountains are coarser and rougher, sheep-to-shawl and rustic classic. New england has british influences and simple, straight-forward elegant designs."

She eventually became an officer with the former KB toys corp.Colorful stitches and moved to pittsfield. She became the business partner of mary mcgurn, who had opened colorful stitches in 1993. The two women were partners for a number of years and burton eventually bought mcgurn out, and has owned the store for 14 of the 25 years it’s been open.