Common thread: Prairie Yarns reopens with new owner, support of 200 members


MOORHEAD—Verna Kragnes can spin a yarn discussing the fiber arts, but she's not the only one passionate about the craft as a store and education center for knitters gets ready to reopen.

Prairie Fiber Arts Center will open at 10 a.m. Friday, June 9, at 127 4th St. S. in Moorhead. It's the new incarnation of Prairie Yarns, which opened in 2007 and closed this spring at 2607 S. University Drive in Fargo.

Kragnes recently purchased the business from Keatha McLeod, but Kragnes wasn't alone in keeping the store alive. She asked locals to become one- or two-year members, getting nearly 200 people to pay for memberships and raise about $25,000 in just a few weeks.

"That is an incredible level of support and commitment and a statement of this legacy," she said.

Kragnes intends to keep alive the former Prairie Yarns legacy, but she also has new ideas to make this retail store into a thriving educational center.

To celebrate the opening, Prairie Fiber Arts Center will host a reception from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for Sandy Bot-Miller's art inspired by yarn as the inaugural exhibit in the store's new gallery space. Employee Adrienne Larsen will also be on hand to sign copies of her pattern book from 1 to 4 p.m.

The store is opening just in time for Knit in Public Day on Saturday, June 10. Kragnes said they'll celebrate by inviting people to bring a folding chair and knit on the sidewalk in front of the store from 2 to 4 p.m.

New legacy

While Kragnes said she hopes to continue the successful legacy of Prairie Yarns, one of the store's original employees who will continue to work at Prairie Fiber Arts Center has noticed a "different vision" from the new owner.

"The previous vision from (McLeod) was a very homey, eclectic, relaxed atmosphere," Carla Myrum said. "I see more of an organized comfort level here."

There will still be "homey" elements, Myrum said, like the grouping of armchairs where people can gather and knit together. But this will have more of a "minimalist" look, she said, and Kragnes said that's a necessity now that the store is about 500 square feet smaller than its old Fargo location.

There's also more of a focus on classes now, according to Larsen, and an improved classroom space where people can learn the basics of the craft or brush up on new techniques.

Kragnes considers Prairie Fiber Arts Center to be more of a "hybrid in beginning" than a typical retail store. Someday, she hopes to have a nonprofit side to the business as it expands educational activities.

She said she'll achieve that goal with some new features for the store, such as a pattern book lending library for members. She also wants to add looms that people can reserve to use for two weeks, for example, letting them try a new craft without having to buy a $500 loom.

Going forward, she said it'll be "critical" to capture the interest of younger generations and make sure the craft has a bright future here.

It's an ambitious goal, but Kragnes admits there's another slightly selfish reason why she decided to buy the business.

"I wanted a place to be able to buy yarn, too, in this community," she said with a chuckle. "Somebody's got to do this."

Business profile

What: Prairie Fiber Arts Center

Where: 127 4th St. S., Moorhead

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday (summer hours)

Phone: (218) 284-0004