The delectable ingredients for making yarn cakes fill the shelves of YarnCakes yarn shop, creating a cozy haven for knitters and crocheters. While visitors to the downtown West Salem shop aren’t met with the aroma of baked goods, the wide variety of yarns might be considered a feast for the eyes.

YarnCakes’ owner Heidi Tumerman will willingly “mix up a cake” from the skeins of yarn filling her shop. Yarn cakes are cylinder-shaped balls of yarn with flattened tops and bottoms. The flat bottoms allow the cake of yarn to sit on a flat surface while a strand of yarn is pulled out of the top’s center. The cakes are less likely to roll away while knitters or crocheters work their needles or hooks.

A knitter for more than 30 years, Tumerman decided to make her hobby a business during her retirement years. She opened the yarn shop in 2018 in a former dental office.

“It’s a mix of business and hobby,” Tumerman said. “It’s a fun way to spend a day.”

She shares her shop with two cats, Stella and Wally. While the felines don’t knit, there are occasions when they’ll get their “hooks” into balls of yarn.

Originally from Milwaukee, Tumerman and her then husband moved to western Wisconsin in 2005. Before retiring, Tumerman was a special education teacher. She also taught knitting at Lugar de Reunion, a Hispanic community center in Sparta.

“I love the Hispanic community,” Tumerman said. “I volunteered to teach English and then gave knitting classes. I know a lot of knitting terms in Spanish.”

In addition to the two display rooms, YarnCakes has a furnished room for people who want lessons or just a place to work on projects. Tumerman will do group and one-to-one lessons as well as assist knitters having difficulties with a project.

“There are two types of knitters; some follow a pattern exactly and others are more risk takers,” Tumerman said.

The centuries-old handicrafts haven’t become obsolete. In recent years, more people are discovering satisfaction in creating their own garments as well as finding crocheting and knitting to be great stress relievers.

“Knitting is therapeutic,” Tumerman said. “There’re a lot of news articles out there that say knitting is a great way to relax, relieve stress and even lower your blood pressure.”

Along with reducing tension, the hobby can bring people together to share their common interest.

“There are a lot of knitting groups in the community,” Tumerman said. “The knitting community is a social community; socialization is becoming a part of knitting.”

Even youngsters are picking up the hobby. Tumerman offers an open group time after school for students in grades three to eight interested in knitting and crocheting.

“It’s been fun and I enjoy having the kids here,” Tumerman said. “I think parents are happy their kids are doing something other than spending time on their computers.”

While Tumerman is aware many knitters and crocheters can find patterns and information on the internet, she does have a well-stocked library of books available for customers to check out.

Tumerman stocks silk and linen yarns as well as sheep and alpaca wools. She also carries blends. Alpaca wool is often blended with synthetic fiber to help the wool keep its shape. She tends to stay away from acrylic yarns, preferring the feel of natural fiber. The quality of yarn in her shop also tends to be higher than those found in department stores.

“I tend to stick with traditional (yarns),” Tumerman said. “You’re always going to have your basic wool. Now-a-days people are looking for superwash wool; it won’t shrink in the washer. I tend to not carry novelty yarns; which tend to be around for a few years and then lose popularity.”

While Tumerman tries to stay abreast of the various types of yarn, a number of her customers keep her informed of the latest fashion trends. They stop in at the shop and ask Tumerman if she knows about a new style of hat or other garment.

Along with the yarn, needles and crochet hooks, Tumerman carries accessories such as shawl pins, buttons and yarn bowls. The bowls hold yarn balls or cakes to prevent them from rolling away.

Tumerman can be reached by calling 608-612-0191. More information about YarnCakes can be found on the shop’s Facebook page or at www.yarncakes.net.