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Squiggly Yarn Shop Brings Knitting to Morse Avenue

ROGERS PARK — Rico Blanco's forearms are emblazoned with skull-and-crossbones tattoos.

But look closely, and under the image on his right arm you'll see the word "Knit" in black ink. On the left, "Crochet."

As the sole proprietor of Squiggly's Yarn Shop and Studio, which opened at the end of March at 1604 W. Morse Ave., Blanco knows his way around a knitting needle.

The 41-year-old started knitting and crocheting when he was 5, when he learned from his mom.

But his dad wasn't so keen on seeing his boy with a pair of crochet hooks.

So Blanco did it in secret until his dad caught him and told him to never knit in public.

"I started selling my stuff immediately," he said, and he always dreamt of opening a yarn store and studio where he could host knitting nights and sell his stuff.

Blanco still works a corporate day job in marketing, but eventually wants to run Squiggly's full time.

The Rogers Park resident first started knitting in the neighborhood at the now-closed Evil Squirrel Comics. The owner, Shawn Bobby, would host BYOB knitting sessions.

"I just knew there were a ton of people who knitted here," Blanco said.

He said he named the shop after Squiggly, a stuffed pig he won in 2007 out of a claw machine and that he takes "everywhere."

"He's the good luck charm," Blanco said.

Other than selling yarn and custom work, Blanco said he'd continue the Evil Squirrel tradition of knitting nights and wants to teach classes eventually.

"With Rico, half the group are guys — and they knit," said Sandra Peterson, 63, who was shopping for yarn and visiting with neighborhood friends. "I think this is a great place to get over your gender and culture and do what you like."

Erin McCann, an "enthusiastic" friends of Blanco's, said she planned to help teach classes at the 350-square-foot shop.

The yarn store, she said, "is going to bridge a gap in the neighborhood."