Kate Mau has found success by needle with Wild Haven Fiber Company.

Mau, as seen through the front windows of her Bay View yarn and decor shop. Photo by Kat Schleicher.

Mau, as seen through the front windows of her Bay View yarn and decor shop. Photo by Kat Schleicher.

In October, 38-year-old Kate Mau opened Wild Haven Fiber Company (2658 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), which sells skeins of yarn for those who think, as she does, that knitting is a meditative process. Behold five purls of wisdom about Mau and her ultra-cozy shop.

1. She wields a needle.
Fifteen years ago, Mau taught herself to knit from a Real Simple article. Now, determined to reduce the number of knitting fails, Wild Haven also offers classes.

2. She likes a good story.
“I have some yarn coming from a woman in Romania. I found her on Instagram. She’s trying to continue her mother’s legacy – they raise sheep,” Mau says. Birch Brittany knitting needles hail from a family-owned company in California. “I heard them talk on a podcast, and I knew I had to have their stuff,” she says.

3. This isn’t her only gig.
Mau also teaches art history at Wisconsin Lutheran College and Lakeland College. “I love getting students to that moment where it makes sense,” she says. “They either think [art history is] going to be very easy or useless.”

4. She supports local sheep.
Thumpers, too. “I have feelers out there with people raising Angora rabbits,” she says. “That’s really important to me, [and] to call attention to the fact that we have sheep farmers in Wisconsin.”

5. Wild Haven isn’t just a yarn barn.
“I have things that are on the periphery of the DIY movement, so people can feel like they are a part of it even if they aren’t knitting,” Mau says. Our pick: the hand-painted knitting-project bags from local bag-maker Directive.

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‘Fast Five: Kate Mau’ appears in the January 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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