Duluth transplant hooks crafters up online, in person

Kayla Mitchell’s Facebook group has nearly 500 members. Several meet weekly — sometimes more — to commune over crafts and coffee.

people knitting
Kayla Mitchell receives a kiss from her service dog, Tag-a-long, during a knitting group at Wussow's Concert Cafe on Feb. 18 in Duluth. Mitchell started a craft group after moving to Duluth. “I didn’t want to lose interest in something I really enjoyed doing because I moved away from friends,” she said.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — When Kayla Mitchell moved to Duluth, she wanted to give back and connect. “I’m disabled. I don’t work. That’s why I offer free knitting and crochet classes through my group.”

In less than two years, Mitchell’s Facebook group, " Duluth Knit, Crochet, and Crafts ," has attracted nearly 500 members. Several meet weekly, others more often, for crafts and coffee.

people knitting
Kayla Mitchell, left, learns a new knitting technique from Bekky Vrabel, of Duluth, as Tess Linval, of Duluth, watches.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Mitchell, who has agoraphobia (fear of entering crowded or open spaces), post-traumatic stress disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, says the community she has found in the Twin Ports through this medium has “really been helpful for my mental health.”

“I struggle leaving the house. This is a place I have to go every week, and if I’m too sick to make it, it’s still a positive thing I’m doing,” she said.

Despite its name, the group’s open to all Northlanders doing anything creative. The group page shows links to a fiber rummage sale, pattern questions, memes and lots of progress and finished project posts in bag-making, fiber arts and more.


people knitting
Tess Linval, from left, of Duluth, Ben Beuttenmueller of Washburn, and Bekky Vrabel, of Duluth, talk about spinning fibers.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

And during Saturday’s gathering, Mitchell talked about what she was making for the Lake Superior Life Care Center's call for baby shower items. She likes that the group can give back when possible.

Mitchell moved to the Twin Ports from Connecticut, where she’d built an active craft group, a connection she missed here. “I didn’t want to lose interest in something I really enjoyed doing because I moved away from friends,” she said.

She posted free knitting and crocheting classes on other area fiber groups, and soon, she was connected, “giving back and participating in community.”

Kim Adams.jpeg
Kim Adams crochets a headband. Adams learned how to crochet for free from Kayla Mitchell, a Duluth transplant and fiber artist who launched an online craft group to make friends and give back.
Contributed / Petra Bednar

Mitchell taught Kim Adams how to knit and crochet for free. The Duluth mother of two said she wanted to reclaim some time and creativity for herself. “As a parent, you’re cooking and cleaning and washing the dishes … all of that immediately needs to be done again,” Adams said. “With crocheting, I’m making something that I can hold.”

Since hooking up with Mitchell and the group, Adams has moved on from scarves, hats and gloves to an amigurumi plush ninja, a phoenix, and more.

people knitting
A ball of yarn rests in a knitting bowl at Wussow's Concert Cafe.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
orange crocheted animal sitting on a tree branch
Kim Adams, of Duluth, posted this photo of her crocheted kitsune to the "Duluth Knit, Crochet, and Crafts" Facebook group. She learned how to knit and crochet for free from the group's founder, Kayla Mitchell.
Contributed / Kim Adams

The end product is so adorable,” she said.

Mitchell is generous with her time, patient and flexible, which made it very easy to learn from her, and Adams’ new hobby has replaced checking her phone for a dopamine hit. “I now have this much healthier and more productive thing I can go to when I'm in my happy place,” Adams said.

Today, Adams and a few co-workers attend craft gatherings with the group’s multigenerational participants. It’s a low-pressure, word-of-mouth group from which Adams seeks guidance and has been introduced to different fibers and instruments.


people knitting
Kayla Mitchell knits at Wussow's Concert Cafe on Feb. 18 in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

She also looks forward to sharing her finished projects online and the positive feedback that follows.

Leaning into these hobbies with this group was a game changer for Adams, especially in the past couple of years. They’re all “kind of introverts” who need social time and something to do with their hands. “Another thing to focus on when you’re meeting new people, it takes the anxiety out of it," she said.

people knitting
Kayla Mitchell knits under the watchful stare of her service dog.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

If you go

  • What: Stitch and Bitch, hosted by " Duluth Knit, Crochet, and Crafts" Facebook group
  • When: 1 p.m. Saturdays
  • Where: Wussow’s Concert Cafe, 324 North Central Ave., Duluth
  • When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays
  • Where: Miller Hill Mall, 1600 Miller Trunk Highway (outside Legacy Toys)
  • Cost: Free
From gadget-building to egg-decorating, enjoy this roundup of some events offered this spring.

Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346,
What To Read Next
Get Local