Cynthia Mills owner Blazing Needles 1365 S. 1100 East, SLC 801-487-5648

Nothing is cozier than a thick, knitted sweater-except, perhaps for a knitting group or community.

After 25 years of managing a shopping center, Cynthia Mills heard that call. "I missed having a nurturing community and embarked on this desire to have business and community in one," she says.

Mills opened Blazing Needles in 2008, creating a gathering place for knitters and fiber artists that offers fine yarns and needles along with classes and social knitting events.

"People want to feel connected," Mills says of her business's nurturing environment. "We make every effort to ensure that the experience at Blazing Needles is inclusive. Everyone is welcome."

The shopping experience at Blazing Needles is not just customer-friendly, but also customer-driven.

"Our customers feel they have a stake in our success," Mills says. "They have become invested in building this community, even offering ideas for new classes and service projects."

Blazing Needles gives back to their community, too. "We host many social knitting hours as well as fundraising events important to our customers." Mills says.

"We want to give people a reason to keep coming back and being engaged and learning something new."

To that effect, Blazing Needles recently began offering 1-hour $10 classes called To the Point Tuesdays. "People can drop by and learn a new skill," Mills says. Mills also plans to continue bringing in out-of-town designers to teach knitting techniques, and to offer products not ordinarily found in Utah.

"We focus on providing a unique experience, and our unique knitters are the key to Blazing Needles' success."