Some of Ann Bloom’s handi- work looks good enough to eat. But it might be a little stringy.
Bloom’s sushi Neck Cozy, rolled up, resembles the real thing: a white outer layer simulating rice, wrapped around faux black nori, purple cabbage and green avocado. A bamboo toggle tied around the roll completes the illusion.
It’s among the colorful creations Bloom, a State College resident, knits and crochets for her business, KnittyKittie, on the craft website Etsy. Besides a large selection of Neck Cozys, her products include headbands, scarves and chokers and necklaces.
“I love making a piece of string into something to wear,” she proclaims on her site.
She offers another sushi cozy, this one sporting the red of a tuna roll. The rest of her 29 cozy varieties present more conventional, if no less attractive, options. They look like the tops of thick sweaters, each fastened with a distinctive button, some of them vintage. Most sell for $20.
“A lot of people say they wear them inside, in a cold office, because they don’t get in the way,” Bloom said.
Since starting KnittyKittie six years ago, Bloom has sold hundreds of Neck Cozys, to buyers as far away as France, Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the Czech Republic. She heard back from a satisfied customer in Prague.
“He told me how cold it was,” she said. “He worked outdoors. He thought it would be perfect.”
Bloom, a former kindergarten teacher who now works in the Schlow Centre Region Library children’s department, already was the creative type before she discovered yarn.
In the late 1990s, as Carol Ann Bloom, she wrote the guides “Playing with Print” and “Nifty Thrifty No-sew Costumes and Props,” as well as two children’s mysteries. She loved to write but wanted to try her hand at something else.
Picking up knitting and crocheting from a children’s guide over a weekend, she began with headbands before adding her Neck Cozys.
“I think probably the knitting and crocheting came about because I wanted to do something with my hands,” she said.
She mostly uses a blend of lamb’s wool and acrylic fiber, though at a customer’s request, she started making nonwool items. For her children’s Neck Cozys, which she calls Kid Cozys, she chooses a softer, lighter-weight yarn suitable for even babies.
In the works is a new Etsy site exclusively for her headbands and hair accessories. She plans to call it Alice Bands, the name of popular 1930s headbands inspired by Lewis Carroll’s immortal character in Wonderland.
Until then, she’ll stay busy keeping KnittyKittie purring along.
“There’s a huge array of yarn now, so you can really use your imagination making things,” she said.
It also helps with displaying them. After a sushi cozy is worn, Bloom recommends rolling it back up tightly. Add a tray and a pair of chopsticks, and apparel becomes art.
“You have a soft sculpture to put in your kitchen on a counter,” she said. “It’s a conversation piece.”
By Chris Rosenblum