Won’t you be my neighbor? WEBS yarn makes debut in new Mister Rogers movie

  • David Newell, as Mr. McFeely, left, and Fred Rogers on the set of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” from the film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”   FOCUS FEATURES VIA AP/LYNN JOHNSON  

  • Director Marielle Heller, left, and Tom Hanks on the set of “A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.” SONY-TRISTAR PICTURES VIA AP/LACEY TERRELL 

  • Narragansett red yarn sold at WEBS in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bonnie Lemme, a store manager at WEBS in Northampton, holds Narragansett Red yarn, used for the Mister Rogers cardigan in “A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 12/9/2019 11:09:40 PM

The knitted cardigan Tom Hanks wears in his new movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” in which he plays the beloved children’s TV star Mister Rogers, started out as a ball of yarn in Northampton.

WEBS America’s Yarn Store, at 75 Service Road, is the biggest yarn store in the nation and supplied the material to make one of the most famous sweaters on the small screen — now recreated on the big screen.

“The yarn is called Modern Cotton, and it is produced in Peru and then distributed by a company called Berroco in Smithfield, Rhode Island,” store owner Kathy Elkins said Monday. 

Modern Cotton comes in a variety of colors, including the perfect red to recreate Fred Rogers’ sweater for the movie. The film’s costume designer, Yasemin Esmek, who lives in New Jersey, chose the shade known as “Narragansett.”

“The designer came in about 18 months ago,” said Elkins, who didn’t know the purpose of that visit “until the first article came out a few weeks ago.” 

The article she’s referring to is a writeup about Esmek’s work in the New York Post that name-checks the Northampton yarn store. 

Store manager Bonnie Lemme said that Esmek is a “regular customer” and that she “helped her walk around the store when she came in.” Lemme said that Esmek told her it was for a movie, but she did not say which one. Lemme believes Esmek came in to “touch and feel” the material of the yarns to get a sense of what she wanted to use and most likely ordered through their online site at yarn.com.

“We’ve had a couple times where somebody famous has used our yarn personally or has shopped here,” said Elkins. “It’s a pretty large store, and it’s a big online site, so it does happen occasionally. I think a lot of people try to fly under the radar, so we respect their privacy. When they come in our doors, they are another knitter to us.”

“We are really honored that the designer chose to make the trip from New Jersey to visit the store,” Elkins added. “There are a lot of great local yarn stores between her and us, and the fact that she chose us means a lot to us.”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is showing locally at the Tower Theaters in South Hadley, Greenfield Garden Cinemas, and Cinemark in Hadley. 

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