The first thing you notice when you walk into Chappaqua resident Jessica Meyrowitz’ home office are the plastic bins. Big bins, stacked high, lining almost every inch of wall space. And all of them are filled to the rim with colorful handmade knits that call out to be held and touched. They look cozy. They look warm. They look delicious. They look, well, yummy.
Meyrowitz is the founder of It’s a…Yummy, a company devoted to the creation of handmade throws, pillows, baby blankets, hats, scarves, wraps and belts. But these are not your ordinary knit products. They are made with a specially sourced, 100 percent merino wool yarn called core spun yarn, and they are knit using a technique called extreme knitting. The result is a product that not only looks and feels good, but is durable too.
“I wanted the yarn to feel like a cloud,” she said. “When people feel (the products) I want them to say it’s so yummy … so soft.”
Meyrowitz’ path to launching It’s a …Yummy is as interesting as her products. After graduating from Boston University, she pursued acting in New York City, landing roles in Off-Broadway productions, commercials and television. Though she achieved enough success to support herself, she decided to switch gears when her husband was transferred to Maryland. While there, she worked in radio sales and advertising, eventually opening her own ad agency, called JSM Media, in Washington, D.C. In 2011, her husband Eric accepted a New York City-based job, and her family, which now included sons Jake and Alec, moved to Chappaqua.
“The agency was very successful, but it became more and more of a challenge to go back and forth to D.C. with young kids,” she said. As such, in 2016, she closed the agency and decided to take a break from the working world. To fill her time, she signed up for two classes: a pottery class at the Chappaqua Arts Center and a knitting class at Katonah Yoga.
“I wanted to expand my horizons and do something creative,” she remembered. During class, her pottery teacher encouraged all of the students to look online for project ideas. Deciding to search for knitting projects too, Meyrowitz came across a blanket she wanted to make for her family room. The only catch was the blanket was made with extreme knitting, a method Meyrowitz was not familiar with.
As Meyrowitz discovered, extreme knitting is knitting with very large yarn and large needles. The result is chunkier stitches that are looser than conventional knitting stitches, giving the pieces a distinctive look. Most extreme knitting projects use roving, which is basically what yarn is before it is spun. Though roving is very soft, it is not as durable as traditional spun yarn.
“I wanted to make my blanket with yarn that wouldn’t fall apart,” she said. After calling several yarn stores, she realized that the type of yarn she wanted to use for her blanket was not readily available. She then began calling mills directly to find what she wanted. As she searched, she realized she had happened upon a business opportunity.
“I didn’t start this to make a business,” she laughed. “I started it to make a blanket. But I said to myself, there must be other people who want this big, soft durable yarn.” After doing more research, including visiting local farms to learn more about sheep, shearing and yarn creation, she had developed a plan to source her specialized yarn.
Soon, It’s a…Yummy was off and running. Meyrowitz launched the company in October 2016 on Facebook with three products in 13 different colors. The response was immediately positive.
“The outpouring of support from the Chappaqua and Armonk communities was really special,” Meyrowitz said. By February 2017, Meyrowitz had added several more products and colors to the line. Currently, It’s a…Yummy offers more than 25 products in 38 colors, as well as limitless amounts of custom options.
Once the orders started coming in, Meyrowitz hired a knitting team to keep up with the demand. The knitting force, as she refers to it, is composed of eight moms, all from Chappaqua and Armonk. Though some already knew knitting basics, she taught all of them the extreme knitting technique. This sparked another idea: offering do-it-yourself knitting kits and knitting parties. Both have been extremely successful; the kits were featured on the Today show’s holiday gift episode, and the parties have morphed into knitting workshops and seminars held all over the tristate area and beyond.
“Knitting is so mindful and meditative; it really gives me joy to teach people because it is so relaxing and easy,” she said. “After an hour knitting workshop or party, you leave with a skill and a scarf. And you will have both forever.”