Science + Knitting: The Social Entrepreneurship Dream of Ellen Rubin of Luv2Knit and More!

Ellen Rubin is the owner of Luv2Knit & More – a lovely, little, shop, located on Route 611, Old York Road, in Jenkintown, right behind The Outback Steakhouse in the historic art deco building that once was home to Strawbridge & Clothier. There, she has created a community of knitting/crocheting enthusiasts, who come to her shop, not only to purchase beautiful yarns and notions, to learn to knit or crochet, but also to be part of the Luv2Knit family.   

The communities that gather to knit in silent camaraderie or jovial conversation are a hint at Ellen’s vision for the future of Luv2Knit.  She sees its potential expanding far beyond its modest four walls. 

First, a little of Ellen’s backstory. 

Although Ellen learned to knit when she was pregnant with her second child, Jacob, her appreciation for yarn work began years before. She fondly remembers, as a child, sitting at her grandma’s feet as her grandma crocheted, watching Laurence Welk, while helping to wind yarn into a ball.   

Ellen is a trained scientist. She graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Biology, conducting toxicology and E-coli research during her college Co-op experiences. She credits her scientific mindset with the ease with which she learned to knit and with her ability to comprehend its complex structures and mathematical constructs. She credits Drexel University with teaching her how to be a creative thinker and to think outside the box.

The fact that Ellen is both a visual artist and a scientist intrigues me; I have never given much thought to the possibility that left brain logic and right brain creativity could co-exist. When I googled, “correlation between science and knitting”, I was surprised at just how many articles appeared.  

Some of the articles spoke about visual similarities – how the patterns of knit and purl rows resemble patterns in nature – such as the growth of coral reefs, the construction of bird nests, bee hives, otter dams and other natural elements. While others addressed the connection between knitting and scientific thought processes. Carolyn Yackel, Math Professor at Mercer University in Atlanta, proposes that knitting, like science, encourages “people to visualize, re-contextualize and develop new problems and answers”, building neural plasticity in the brain and slowing the effects of aging. 

And there was a ton of research into knitting’s therapeutic value and its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Creative activities like knitting/crocheting that require focus (including meditation), naturally elevate dopamine levels, boosting mood and happiness. 

“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts,” Betsan Corkhill of stichlinks.com writes about the process of knitting.

Additionally, knitting, crocheting and other handicrafts lend themselves to “stitch and bitch” social circles, reducing depression by making us feel less isolated and more connected to our neighbors and communities. 

The therapeutic value of knitting and crocheting and the social communities it creates is where Ellen feels most passionate and where she sees the future of Luv2Knit & More. She says, “I don’t know how much time I have on this earth, but while I am here, I truly want to make a difference. I can feel it in every fiber of my being.”

Ellen first saw the meaningful impact she could have when she taught a dear friend who was dying from lung cancer how to knit. Currently, she sees its transformational power in the weekly knitting lessons that she brings to the Maternal Observation and Monitoring (MOM) Unit in her partnership with Abington Memorial Hospital, helping expectant moms find relief from their physical and emotional stress.

As a true “social entrepreneur”, Ellen envisions knitting and crocheting as part of the solution to mainstream patient-care and as an integral part of a patient’s treatment plan, particularly in the field of cancer treatment. Her vision is to create more and more therapeutic partnerships between Luv2Knit and area hospitals, domestic abuse homes, treatments centers, and nursing homes and to build dedicated “Makers Spaces” at these facilities. 

For more information or to see how you can help be a part of Ellen’s social entrepreneurship dream, or to join her Luv2Knit Community, stop by Luv2Knit & More at 610 Old York Road, Jenkintown, or visit https://www.facebook.com/luv2knitandmore/.  

Creating Memories… with Michelle Silberman

Owner, Founder, Chief Cookie Officer at Snackadabra

Memories of food are inextricably woven into our childhood memories and are some of the strongest memories most of us have. The holiday season is particularly full of nostalgic, food-related memories.  

Personally, I will never forget Christmas Eve sundaes. Instead of dinner, my family would skip right to dessert: a sundae buffet with maraschino cherries, assorted ice creams, whipped cream (out of a Cool Whip tub, of course), hot chocolate and caramel sauces and red and green Jimmies.  I lovingly remember those sundaes – always better looking than their over-the-top-sweetness that inevitably resulted in a Christmas Eve stomach ache. But mostly I remember my mother putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree while we six kids sat, in it’s and the television’s combined glow, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time. 

Other childhood food memories: pulling a soggy peanut butter and jelly on white bread out of a plastic sandwich bag in the school lunchroom; the thrill of hot campfire flames while roasting marshmallows, dipping a grilled cheese into a bowl of Campbell’s Tomato and Rice Soup on a cold, winter night, Friday night pizza and the taste of charred Acrylamide as Mom routinely left the Ellio’s in the oven for five minutes too long… And who can forget, the texture of a milk-soaked cookie crumbling in your mouth at bedtime? 

Michelle Silberman, Founder, Owner, and Chief Cookie Officer at “Snackadabra” certainly can’t. She has built her food business on precisely that last memory. 

Michelle was a 12-year old, 7th grader when she and her best friend, Dana, came up with Snackadabra’s flagship treat – the Cookie Cup. “Kids love cookies and milk, why not make a cookie that actually holds the milk?”, she thought.  Ten or so years later, give or take, while enrolled in an entrepreneurship class at Drexel’s Close School for Entrepreneurship, she and her classmates are tasked with the assignment to invent a Start-Up business. Remembering her cookie cup idea, Michelle pitches it to her classmates who then choose her idea as their group project. That afternoon, after class, excited, she returns to her dorm room kitchen and begins experimenting, late into the night and into the following days, weeks and months, until she perfects the recipe that forms the basis for today’s cookie cup. 

As an entrepreneur, Michelle is particularly good at telling the story of the birth of the Cookie Cup and her business. She understands intrinsically the power of a good story to create connection and to illustrate the basic human need to share a history.  And food is a link that connects and crosses generations, cultures and divides.  

In Michelle’s story, the Cookie Cup is not just a tasty vessel that can hold any sweet treat – ice cream, fruit, liquor, whatever you desire.  It  is a receptacle that holds the memories of a young girl and her best friend, dreaming up a clever way to enjoy their favorite childhood snack.  Today, the narrative continues, with our protagonist, Michelle, as a young, 26-year old entrepreneur running a successful business that employs both a professional staff and a kitchen staff who still bake every single cookie cup by hand, using only natural and whole ingredients.  

Snackadabra’s Cookie Cups are the perfect new tradition for you to share with your friends, family and loved ones this holiday season. Cozy up and enjoy some Hot Spiced/Spiked Cider in a Pumpkin Cookie Cup on Christmas Eve or fill a 24K Rose Gold Cookie Cup with a shot of Veuve Clicquot to toast in the New Year. Or like my family, create a cherished holiday memory by including Cookie Cups on your Christmas Eve sundae buffet bar.

Boozy Holiday Cookie Cup Recipes – click here.

For more information or to order Cookie Cups, visit www.chocamo.com.

Let’s Hear it for the Ladies who LAUNCH!

In the lyrics to “The Ladies Who Lunch”, from the musical “Company”, Steven Sondheim roasts/toasts the rich, middle-aged, woman of leisure. Women who while away their days in meaningless pursuits (such as luncheons with friends). Women who will do anything but be productive, in their efforts to stave away what they know, deep in their hearts, to be bitterly true:


…Everybody tries.
Look into their eyes,
And you’ll see what they know:
Everybody dies…

Cheery lyrics, aren’t they? But I digress: this blog is not about the ladies who lunch – it is a tribute to the opposite – the ladies that launch –  women who spend their days turning their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. Independent, bad-ass women who are building a legacy for their future and their families.

These are the stories of women who are walking in the turn of the century foot steps of the Red Rose Girls (pictured above), four original bad-asses who thumbed their roses (I mean “noses”) at societal norms to begin their own graphic design and illustration businesses.  Ahead of their times, these women also created an artist commune to share both the bills and moral support. Now that’s forward thinking!

And so, Let’s hear it for the ladies who Launch!
Everybody rise!
Rise! Rise! Rise!