Handmade: Ophir Crafts offers crafters creative outlet

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

It’s often said timing is everything. Ann Arbor husband and wife Gary and Katherine Ernsting opened the doors to what has become a very successful business, Ophir Crafts in Ann Arbor, just three months after a popular knitting store in the area closed.

“Knit Around closed around the same time we were considering opening,” Katherine remembers. “We got a lot of their customers because people want to come see and touch the fiber. People can also come here and have a knitting birthday party. Some of our schools actually teach knitting and crocheting, and they can have a one-time event here at the store when they do field trips.”

Ernsting says she and her husband came up with the name because “Ophir was an ancient city talked about in the Bible and other historical literature,” Katherine says. “It was a place where you got fine things. It was the Eldorado of the ancient world, and we wanted to give the shop an ancient connection to crafting.”

Katherine is owner and general manager, Gary volunteers in the back office, and their daughter, Terry, is education director and floor manager.

Nestled in the Westgate Shopping Center, Ophir Crafts offers customers a plethora of yarn, supplies for creating needle arts and a large selection of handmade gift items. “We carry yarn, knitting and crocheting supplies, notions, buttons, pattern books and simple beginning books. We also carry finished things, like scarves and baby clothes, and we have wooden projects.”

To add an even more handmade feel throughout the shop, Katherine says, “Many of the fixtures in the store are made by Amish. They kind of individually craft their items. They’re not manufactured by machine.”

With the shop open just more than a year, Katherine says, “Business is great because we’re connecting with crafters in the area, as well as some of the younger people, such as U of M students who are picking up crafts. I think crafts are suddenly popular because people are sick of being in the virtual world all the time.”

A free craft night is held at the shop every Thursday from 4-8 p.m., typically attended by at least 20-25 people.

Featured here is a pattern for a mug warmer, designed by Sara Keim of Ypsilanti, a staff member who instructs knitting and crocheting classes at the shop.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more craft news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

“Double Double” Knitted Mug Warmer

Level: Beginner

Estimated time: 2-3 hours

Tools: US Size 7 (4.5mm) knitting needles, size G crochet hook, scissors, yarn needle

Supplies: one skein of Shepherd’s worsted weight yarn, large button

Gauge: 5 St / 6 Rows equal 1-inch square

Finished size: 4 x 8.5 inches (fits 8-ounce mug)

Abbreviations: st(s) stitch(es), K knit, P purl, sl 1 slip one, CO cast on, BO bind off


CO 22 sts

Row 1: K1, *P1, K1* to last st, sl 1

Row 2: K1, *P1, K1* to last st, sl 1

Row 3: K1, *K1, P1* to last st, sl 1

Row 4: K1, *K1, P1* to last st, sl 1

Work until piece measures 8.5 inches. BO loosely, but do not cut yarn.

Pick up last loop and crochet a 4-inch chain.

Then, cut yarn, leaving a 4-inch tail and fasten off.

Use yarn needle to attach end of chain to opposite corner along short side, creating a long loop over short side of fabric. Weave in ends. Attach button to center of cast on edge, approximately 1-inch in.

Now, wrap warmer around mug, stretch loop over handle, and wrap around button. (The one seen in photo is embellished with a needle-felted rose.)

Contact Ophir Crafts (2507 Jackson, Ann Arbor) at (734) 794-7777 or visit ophircrafts.com