A Knitter’s Dream Come True

Yarn For Ewe owners Dianne Valvo (left) and her daughter Mary Heyl (right) use a yarn winder in their Randolph store. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

“Growing up I never thought I would go into business with my mom, but I have discovered being in business and teaching knitting classes is my passion. It doesn’t get any better than working next to your best friend,” says Mary Heyl, who along with her mother, Dianne Valvo is partnered in Yarn For Ewe, a shop that handles everything a knitter could desire.

Her mother taught the daughter very basic knitting skills as a child. Years later, in 2003, a friend of Mrs. Valvo visited their home with a willingness to teach what she had learned from the knitting classes she had recently completed. Although unsure in the beginning, the mother-daughter duo grew to enjoy their new hobby and sought to learn more. With their basic knowledge they signed up for the nearest knitting classes, which were held at The Art Trunk” located in Sherman, N.Y. Soon they began taking classes in Dunkirk, N.Y. Although only having knowledge of basic knit and purl stitches, they each became involved in a complicated sock project.

“There are experienced knitters who have not tried to knit socks, but that was our first project,” says Mary. “We had never been to a yarn shop and weren’t aware how difficult making socks were. It was something we had both always wanted to do.”

After that they took less difficult classes and eventually the shops they had patronized closed giving Mrs. Valvo a chance to pursue her dream of opening her own business. From this, Yarn For Ewe became a reality in downtown Kennedy, across from the owners home. The business was moved a short distance away after the original location was outgrown. When the former Pickle Barrel building became available in 2014, Yarn For Ewe was moved to the Randolph location, but a year later they purchased and moved into a larger building next door.

“It was because of me that this store is here,” says Connie Dalbo, a regular at the shop and an attendee at the March open knit pot luck. “I was giving Dianne a private yoga lesson at her other shop when she said, ‘I need yoga. I found out the man that owns this building is selling it.’ I told her The Pickle Barrel in Randolph was available.”

Joy Bilharz made Poached Dried Apricots with Yogurt Cream for March’s potluck open knit session at Yarn For Ewe.

The mother-daughter team offer weekly knitting classes three days per week.

“There are ongoing classes for people of any skill level to join at any time. If you want to learn something new, you can get started in the weekly classes,” says the daughter. “People who have abandoned projects in the past and don’t know where they left off can bring their projects in.”

There are two knitting instructors and a crochet instructor is available with an appointment. Varying workshops are offered with beaded cowl, beaded fingerless gloves and Fair Isle mittens being the most recent offerings. Children’s knitting classes are the newest addition. Occasional all-day workshops with multiple instructors teaching various projects are another fun offering. Some of the workshops are student-inspired after they have requested specific classes. Attendees participate in all offered workshops.

“We have different events throughout the year,” Mary states. “We recently had a Yarn Tasting and Trunk Show

The products of several yarn companies are sold in the shop including Cascade Yarn, Berroco, Sirdar and Euro Yarns. Brown Sheep, Mirasol, Araucania and some smaller independent companies are also represented. Sock yarn, 100% wool for felting, washable wool blends and dish cloth cotton, along with baby yarn, wool-free yarns, Alpaca blends and novelty yarns are available.

“We try to have samples made from every yarn to give knitters an idea of what they can make with the yarn and to show them how it looks and feels when it’s made up. Sometimes when it’s knitted up it looks a lot different than in the skein.”

“Buttons can be purchased in any number, allowing the customer to buy what they need and maybe a spare,” Mary points out. She shows off interchangeable circular needle sets with twelve sizes of needles and 24“, 32” and 40″ cable lengths, making one investment possible for the knitter with everything in one convenient fold-up, take-along case. She wants all knitters to know, even though they offer regularly scheduled classes, people may stop by the shop to get help with their projects at no charge.

“The whole point is to make knitting fun and accessible to everyone. Knitting is compared to meditation. It reduces stress and high blood pressure, helps with arthritis and we really see knitting form so many unlikely friendships and relationships,” says the daughter. “We have had people knit their way through cancer, divorce and losing a child.”

The knitters outdid themselves with the unique, delicious dishes brought to the March 12 open knit pot

luck social session. Gale Peterson of Jamestown bravely brought Grape Salad in a beautiful china bowl that had been in her late husband’s family for over one hundred years.

“It belonged to my husband’s grandmother’s mother, who would have been born about 150 years ago. We always call it the bean dish, because I put pork and beans in it every Christmas. I made sure I had it with me when I moved to my apartment.”

The Octogenarian’s mother taught her to knit, allowing Mrs. Peterson to go on to manage the yarn department in Bigelow’s Department Store while simultaneously instructing knitting classes for twenty-four years at Jamestown High School and for eight years at Jamestown Community College.

“My fudge recipe goes back to when I was a girl. My girlfriend’s and I would get together to play games and make fudge and popcorn,” says Gerri Moon. “I couldn’t get the soft ball stage until I got a candy thermometer, but now I can do it without it.”

Several women drive long distances to be part of the camaraderie. Huguette Wenk drives from Hamburg.

“It takes an hour and fifteen minutes and it’s definitely worth the drive,” she says.

Diane Bianchi, an Eden resident, agrees and says they sometimes car pool with two to four other people who drive down from the north. The ladies estimated they had been participating for four to six years.

Peggy Steward, who was sitting at an adjacent table, was taught to knit by her mother when she was eight or ten years old. “My mother was a phenomenal knitter and could knit anything. (After not knitting for several years) my daughter asked me to make a baby sweater with a zipper in the back, like her grandmother used to make, to take to a baby shower. I finished it in two days. Now I’ve gone crazy with the help of Bonnie Mahoney, one of the instructors. She is a great teacher and a great person. Mary and Dianne are very knowledgeable.

Debbie O’Neil, a multiple blue ribbon winner for the beautiful knitted projects she submits to the Cattaraugus County Fair, was introduced to Yarn For Ewe after a wonderful friend gave her a gift certificate for the shop. Friends and neighbors, Aiyanna Goldsmith and Lilly Fleischmann are avid knitters, as well, even though they are only eight- and 11-years-old, respectively. Aiyanna’s grandmother began teaching her to knit about six months ago and she is now a student in the Tuesday night children’s classes. Lilly was taught by her grandmother about two years.

The store owners point out one particular knitter’s skills. “Emily Finson is a better knitter than most adults I know,” Mary says as she points her out.

“Oh my gosh, she’s a natural,” the other owner agrees.

Sixteen-year-old Emily was taught by her Grandma Kathy Levandowski.

“I taught her when she was seven and now she can teach anyone anything,” says the teenager’s grandmother. “Now she helps me!”

“We make a lot of memories here. We have had three generations,” says the eldest proprietor.

“I’ve been coming here since day one, because if you are going to spend a few months making something, you should use good yarn,” pipes in Julie Gabel while waiting at the register.

Yarn for You is located at 129 Main St., Randolph. Their hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10-5 and Saturday 10-3. They are closed Monday and Friday. The cost of the weekly knitting classes is $10 per session and they take place Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Children’s classes are Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Call 267-2070 to find out which Sundays their free open knit/crochet social times take place.

Poached Dried Apricots Filled with Yogurt Cream – Joy Bilharz

6 oz dried apricots

™c sugar

3¢ c water

half of sweet yogurt cream recipe (below)

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 tsp fresh lemon juice


Dissolve sugar in water, bring to a boil. Add apricots and cinnamon sticks. Cover and simmer until tender (25-30 mins). Remove and cool apricots. Boil syrup until thickened and then add lemon juice. Remove cinnamon sticks and cool syrup. Gently open apricots and fill with yogurt cream. Drizzle with cooled syrup. Sprinkle with pistachios.

Yogurt Cream: Place vanilla or plain yogurt in a fine strainer or coffee filter over a bowl for at least eight hours. Use the thickened yogurt as a substitute for cream. Use high quality yogurt without gelatin or other thickening agents.

Grape Salad – Gale Peterson

2 lbs seedless grapes (red or green or a combination), washed and dried

™ c sugar

8 oz sour cream

8 oz cream cheese

Mix the last three ingredients well. Stir in grapes and put in large serving bowl.


¢ c brown sugar

¢ c chopped walnuts or pecans

Sprinkle over top of salad and refrigerate overnight.

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn with Bacon – Peggy Steward

10 c frozen corn

2 – 8 oz pkgs cream cheese

¢ c half & half

1 tsp salt

™ tsp black pepper

2/3 c red pepper, diced

¢ c green onion, diced (plus more for garnish)

¢ lb bacon, crisp (plus more for garnish)

Add all ingredients to small crockpot. Cook on low 4-5 hours. Stir and garnish with bacon & chopped green onions. Note: this dish can also be baked in a 325 degree oven for one hour, covered.

Peach Torte – Huguette Wenk (serves 8)

1 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

¢ c unsalted butter, at room temp.

§ c sugar

2 eggs at room temp.

6-7 peaches or 1 can peaches, drained

Sugar & lemon juice for sprinkling

Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10″ springform pan. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and then fold in the dry ingredients until blended. Spoon batter into pan and smooth to an even layer. If using fresh peaches, skin peaches by boiling in water for 10 minutes, then cut in half. Arrange peach halves on top of batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar & lemon. Bake until golden brown and set, about 50 minutes. Serve warm (if desired) with whipped cream.

Butter Crescent Rolls – Heidi Bird

1 c milk

¢ c sugar

1 stick butter

1 pkg dry active yeast

™ c warm water

3 eggs

4 ¢ c unbleached flour

Combine milk, sugar and butter in saucepan. Heat until butter is melted. Be careful not to scald mixture. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in the ™ cup warm water in large bowl. Beat eggs and add to lukewarm butter mixture. Add butter mixture slowly into dissolved yeast. Mix thoroughly. Add flour, one cup at a time. Mixture will be sticky. Do not add any more flour. Grease a large mixing bowl. Put mixture into the greased bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel. Place bowl in a warm spot to rise for approximately 2 hours or until mixture has doubled in size. After it has risen, punch down. Divide into 4 balls on floured surface. Roll out each ball. Cut into small triangles, rolling into crescent shapes. Put crescents onto greased cookie sheet, covering with kitchen towels. Let rise for another 1-2 hours. After the rolls have risen, bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush butter on warm rolls.

Fuzzy Navel Cake – Rhonda Hedlund

1 yellow cake mix

1 pkg (6 oz) instant vanilla pudding

¢ c vegetable oil

4 eggs

3/4 c peach schnapps

¢ c orange juice

¢ tsp orange extract


1 c confectioners sugar

4 T peach schnapps

2 T orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour Bundt pan. Combine all seven ingredients for cake and mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Mix glaze ingredients. Poke holes in bottom of cake and pour glaze over while cake is still warm. Allow to cool in pan for 2 hours. If desired, make another batch of the glaze to pour over cake when cool.

Confetti Orzo Salad – Diane Bianchi

1 ¢ c orzo pasta

1/3 c avocado oil

3 T lemon juice

¢ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed

¢ c finely chopped cucumber, seeded and peeled

™ c finely chopped scallions

™ c finely chopped red onion

™ c finely chopped cilantro

1 finely diced carrot

¢ c finely chopped red pepper

Cook Orzo according to instructions. Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic until blended. Toss all the chopped vegetables together with the pasta. Add dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Calico Squash Casserole – Mary Heyl

2 c sliced yellow summer squash (1/4″ thick)

1 c sliced zucchini (1/4″ thick)

1 medium onion, chopped

™ c sliced green onions

1 c water

1 tsp salt, divided

2 c crushed butter flavored crackers

¢ c unsalted butter, melted

1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 large carrot, shredded

¢ c mayonnaise

1 jar (2 oz) diced pimientos, drained

1 tsp oregano

™ tsp pepper

1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients; add ¢ tsp salt. Cover and cook until squash is tender, about 6 minutes. Drain well; set aside. Combine crumbs and butter; spoon half into a greased shallow 1 ¢ qt. baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the soup, carrot, mayonnaise, pimientos, oregano, pepper and remaining salt; fold into squash mixture. Spoon over crumbs. Sprinkle with cheese and remaining crumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Roll Out Cookies (That Never Fail) – Dianne Valvo

1 lb shortening

2 c sugar

4 beaten eggs

2 tsp baking soda, dissolved in ¢ c milk

2 tsp vanilla

¢ tsp salt

8 c flour

Cream shortening and sugar; mix the remaining ingredients in given order. Chill dough for several hours or overnight. Keep dough chilled while working with small amounts. Roll out dough, cut into shapes and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.