Pearl Chin, Beloved Founder of Knitty City, Dies at 71


Pearl Chin. Photo via Knitty City.

Pearl Chin, who founded Knitty City on West 79th Street in 2006, died of lung cancer on Tuesday at the age of 71, the store announced. The store initially had expected to close for seven days of mourning, but has decided to stay open instead.

Chin opened the store as a “yarn studio” and it became a community gathering place. Knitty City sold materials, and held classes and gatherings. After the 2016 election, it was a central spot for knitting hats in preparation for the Women’s March. The store inspired “yarn bombs” wrapped around trees and other objects, including one dedicated to John Lennon. Pearl was known for helping everyone — experienced knitters and total beginners.

She created a haven for knitters when we desperately needed one on the UWS,” wrote Amy Singer, on the store’s Facebook page.

“Pearl changed the world,” wrote Sara Sprung. “She created community in a big city , welcomed all in her shop, men’s knit night , donated yarn to women’s shelters, supported designers – she will be remembered and missed.”

NEWS | 46 comments | permalink
    1. Sadknitter says:

      So terribly sad. Pearl was a great neighbor.

    2. Janet says:

      I can hardly believe it. She was a bright light in that neighborhood. Such a kind and inclusive and creative soul. She always remembered me and made me feel welcome when I visited. Condolences to her family. I am deeply saddened by the loss of this great force for good.

    3. Young Sally says:

      Man this year just sucks. What a fabulous person and shop!

    4. Nina says:

      This is a terrible loss. We knitters will miss her.

    5. Jsc says:

      Pearl was as kind and giving to the absolute beginner as she was to the incredibly talented. Knitty City is a center of caring on the UWS and I hope it continues as a testament to her spirit. My heart goes out to her family.

    6. Ann Shayne says:

      A sunbeam in human form. She was such an inspiration, completely generous, created such a warm, beautiful community. This is a tremendous loss. My heart goes out to her family and huge circle of those who love her.

    7. Sarah says:

      Oh, that’s a shame. Condolences.

    8. Steen says:

      This is such sad news.
      I had been in knitty city a couple if times and noticed her absence, but chalked it up to an abundance of caution about the virus.
      My deepest condolences to her family. She will be missed.

    9. Brenda Berry says:

      This is tragic. Pearl has been a vital part of the neighborhoodiness of the UWS. My heart is broken for
      her family and for all us who felt that she made Knitty City a piece of home.

    10. Jane Emery says:

      Pearl created the best knitting shop in NYC through her personal willingness to genuinely help knitters of all levels. She always provided creative solutions to knitting problems. There were always interesting thingS happening so I just wanted to stop in to check it out. She would be deeply missed especially by the knitters on the West Side.

    11. Amy Reiss says:

      A bright light, with a huge smile, Pearl inspired in her reserved way. With a twinkle as she spoke, Pearl took an interest in her entire Knitty City family. Beautiful memories of Pearl will continue to be stitched into our Knitty City.

    12. Kathy says:

      Deepest thoughts of warmth to her family. Regrets for the loss to the knitting family. May we keep knitting and passing the gift on in her memory.

    13. Spejo says:

      What a lovely lovely person. Will greatly miss her.

    14. Myrian Primera says:

      I was so sorry to hear this news. Pearl Chin may you rest in peace. You have been a generous, kind person. May that feeling go forward in the future. You will be missed.

    15. CarolB says:

      Pearl’s generous spirit and warmth are an inspiration. She was a rare person and she made the world a better place.

    16. NYYgirl says:

      Condolences to her family 😢

    17. Martha says:

      This is such sad news. I live in CA now but try to get to KC every visit to NY. She was a very special light in this world.

    18. Marylou Kavaler says:

      Yes, she was a terrific person and I especially liked the idea that her son was often at the register..she had everything in the shop!!! the most wonderful yarns..for little money and big bucks. You could find something for every and any project. This is very sad news. Marylou Kavaler

    19. Margaret says:

      She warmed my heart every time I shopped there. Will really miss her.

    20. Msgrandoni says:

      I started knitting there. She created a wonderful, soothing, gentle place. Beautiful yarns, classical music, lovely women who always helped me. So sorry. I just hope it does not close

    21. Ingrid Wright says:

      Pearl created a beauty environment for us Knitters. It’s hard to describe our experiences in our Thursday knit nights …. all I know is what I feel now … a big heavy hole in my heart. Thank you Pearl for all that you did. ❤️

    22. susan beckerman says:

      what sad news. this precious shop brought joy to many. it always was a pleasure to go there. may Pearl rest in peace. may her family be comforted by knowing how loved she was by so many

    23. jan Hazard says:

      This is such sad news. I had no idea she was sick. I love this store. I found her warm and always eager to help me and ANYONE who cam got her store. I hope her children continue the store in her memory.

    24. Lorraine says:

      Oh no, I’m so terribly sorry to see this. My deepest condolences to her family. This is such a profound loss to the neighborhood.

    25. Farnham Maxwell says:

      Our Loss..We mourn..

    26. Megan says:

      Truly sad news. Gosh, this is a hard year. I always looked for her when I came into Knitty City, and the day was brighter when she was there. Love to her family and coworkers. Her beautiful soul touched so many of us knitters.

    27. Arlene says:

      Very sad. Pearl was always so welcoming. Condolences to her family.

    28. Gina says:

      Love to her family. She was always kind and helpful. ❤️🌺

    29. Susan S Leonard says:

      So sorry to hear this. A gracious woman. She will be missed.

    30. NPK says:

      This is such sad news. Pearl was a wonderful woman who lived her life with such warmth and generosity and she brought that loving spirit to our neighborhood. . Her spirit will live on with all who were fortunate to come within her aura. My heart goes out to her family. Just know we of UWS will hold her in our hearts always.

    31. Barbara Goldberg says:

      So sorry to hear this sad news. Pearl was a wonderful addition to our neighborhood and will be missed.

    32. Marcia Owens says:

      To Pearl’s family, my deepest condolences and a special hug. I will miss Pearl for her beautiful infectious smile and generosity of spirit. I always loved her sweet chit chat and help with all my blanket projects. Pearl was the crafty grandmother I never had growing up even though we’re just about the same age. My thoughts are with the family, I know Pearl’s passing is a huge loss.

    33. Anita Beeber says:

      I have visited my daughter on the Upper West Side over the last 15 years & have frequently stopped in to Knitty City for advice or help with my knitting. Though I have never had a conversation with Pearl, the help and kindness of her staff has always impressed me as I am an outer towner. This speaks so well of Pearl. The leader sets the tone always. May Pearl Rest In Peace. Her memory is a blessing.

    34. Rowena says:

      Pearl was a wonderful person and a real foundation in our community. Knitty City is far more than yarn shop due to her
      leadership. I will really miss her.
      Pearl did gentle activism everyone was welcomed.
      She knew and remembered me even though I was a casual customer.
      Thank you for the shout out about her passing.

    35. Amy says:

      I remember my first visit to the shop and how when Pearl introduced herself I though “Pearl/purl” how perfect is that!

      Her patience and kindness helped make the craft accessible to everyone. My deepest sympathy go out to her family and the knitting community.

    36. Sydney MCILHENNY says:

      This is one of the saddest neighborhood events in a long series of sad events. I use to knit and enjoy it, but stopped when I couldn’t find good yarn. Knitty City and Pearl started me knitting again. The yarn, the advise, the joyful, productive energy and her smile made this a place to just stop and “recharge” even if I didn’t need yarn. What a gift she gave all of us. We will deeply miss her.

    37. mary says:

      I am so sorry. I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t there. I haven’t been in the store in a long time, but went back recently. Hard to imagine Knitty City without her.

    38. Julie Chin says:

      The store is OPEN for the community and continues to warmly welcome knitters and fiber artists as usual!

    39. I was one of those people who needed a haven and I found it in Pearl’s store. Knitty City has been called the friendliest knitting shop, a well deserved descriptive. It is still there and it will continue to be a haven as Pearl’s family and staff reflect her generous nature. She will be missed but her store is an example of what is great about NYC so shop local and small New Yorkers….support our small shops not amazon.

    40. Easy Klein says:

      Such a wonderful women.I knew Pearl was an active member of NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, where she volunteered her time and experience generously. She cared deeply about all people. I treasured a card I received from her on which she pondered why Jews were so delighted with Chinese food, and expressed her pleasure with the intermingling of cultures. My condolences to her family.

    41. Meredith says:

      I am sad and sorry to hear this. May Pearl’s memory be a blessing. This was a shop and experience 3 generations of my family have loved. How delightful to bring my then 8-yr old girl to Knitty City to learn to knit in a peaceful and delightful oasis in the city. The community of knitters in the back have underscored the value and beauty of community. We invite all to join our Master Crafters community on Vitality Society next Friday at 4 pm ET. This is complimentary to all. Join us – including many upper west siders – to tap into your vitality and creativity in the context of community. https://www.vitality-society.com/events/master-crafter-hobby-hour-with-jeanmarie-lombardi?instance_index=20201106T210000Z

    42. Julie says:

      What sad news! I moved from the UWS in December after over a decade and went into Knitty City often. The last time I was there, Pearl was there. She and her store was such a lovely local place to support for community and keeping alive a lost art. What a loss but I thank her and everyone there for years and sense of community. My sincerest condolences to her family and extended knitting fam.

    43. Karen Greene says:

      Our condolences to the Chin family. Pearl will be profoundly missed by the community of knitters. She was always such a gracious yarn hostess.

    44. Easy Klein says:

      A wonderful woman and a friend. I met her through NAAMI, the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill, where she volunteered her time and experience.I once received a card from her on which she pondered why her Jewish West Side neighbors loved Chinese food. She concluded that she would never understand it but it made her very, very happy! My condolences to h er family.

    45. Anita Lipman says:

      Pearl gave me a home away from home. Living alone it gave me a place to go; to meet with other knitters and feel at home . She will be sorely missed!

      May she Rest In Peace!