Knitting and crochet enthusiasts in the Greater Lansing Area are a “close knit” bunch — no pun intended.
So, when a knitting shop closed in West Lansing, two local women who worked there knew what they had to do. Without missing a beat — or dropping a stitch — they opened a shop of their own.
“When one door closes, another one opens,” said Kathy McCormack, co-owner of Sticks & Strings yarn shop in Lansing’s Old Town.
Sticks & Strings opened last November to familiar faces and new customers. “We love our customers,” said co-owner Sabrina Woodward. “And we love knitting.” The pair was confident that they could fill a need for a yarn shop in the community and so far they have.
It’s easy to see what draws knitting and crocheting hobbyists from all over Michigan — Grand Rapids to Plymouth and beyond — and of every skill level to the shop. “It’s a happy place,” said Woodward.
“People love to knit, especially in the winter months,” Woodward said. Not only is it a great hobby, but it’s a fine art. Creations can be as intricate or simple as you want. They can be freehand for the adventurous soul or guided by step-by-step instructions for the beginner.
McCormack and Woodward note that there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the craft. Men and women, and people of all ages have joined the ranks of knitters. “We know of many high schools that offer after-school knitting lessons,” Woodward said. She advises beginners, “all you need is enthusiasm and determination.”
The key is to have fun. “There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction you get when you’ve completed a project with your own two hands,” said Woodward. “I like to work on at least two projects at a time — one small, one large. “That way I can see progress I’m making on the smaller projects.”
The skeins of yarn displayed throughout three rooms of the cozy shop are inspiring too. McCormack proudly points out yards of yarns of varying weights and colors. They sell fibers from cotton to wool and rayon to mohair. They even feature newer fibers made from plants like corn and bamboo, and they sell a milk and wool blend. When asked what their favorite fiber is, “alpaca” is the unanimous response.
“Your yarn can make your project,” Woodward explained. Not only do the textures inspire, but so do the knitting patterns and sample sweaters, socks, scarves, hats and baby clothes displayed throughout the shop.
Woodward and McCormack purchase the yarns from vendors that they cultivated a relationship with at their former place of employment. Although they’d like to buy more materials locally, there are few mills in the Midwest. Most of their yarns are imported from Italy, the UK and Sweden. Even though they’re imported, the yarns — and accessories and supplies — come in all price ranges, said McCormack.
Sticks & Strings also sells Namaste knitting and crochet bags for toting around supplies and projects. And crocheters can purchase a new ergonomic “square” crochet needles that are easier for your fingers to grip and hold the yarn steadier.
For those who’d like a little extra help, Sticks & Strings offers a variety of classes and brings in a consultant every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. to answer questions about knitting and crochet projects.
Besides word of mouth, Woodward and McCormack use the online social networks of www.facebook.com and www.ravelry.com — an online community of knitters and crocheters — to get the word out about their shop. They also have a website at www.sticksandstringslansing.com.
Whether you’re just getting started or have been knitting for a lifetime, step into the Sticks & Strings yarn store on Washington Street in Old Town. You just might unravel a talent for knitting you never knew you had.
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.