Handmade: Unwind Yarn Shop makes stitching fun
Sometimes when opportunity knocks, the timing is off. Then it begs the question whether you should jump at it, or wait, hoping it'll come back to your door later at a more favorable time.
In 2016, Brighton resident Mary Haskin, who worked for a major corporation, found herself needing to make such a decision after learning her local yarn shop, Eunique Yarn, might be closing. As a knitter, owning her own yarn shop would be the perfect way to spend her retirement years, in spite of never having worked in retail a day in her life.
"I had just one more year to figure out what I wanted to be after I retired from the corporate job," recalled Haskin. "The local yarn shop where I took knitting classes on Wednesday evenings sent out a newsletter saying they were closing in late March, unless somebody bought the shop."
Haskin mentioned it to the woman she worked for. "I said, 'Too bad this opportunity is coming up now and not a year from now.'" She said her boss asked, "Would you be happy if you bought the yarn shop?" After responding, it was just "a matter of 30 days" before she went from doing taxes for a major corporation to owning her own small business.
"I have not regretted my decision a single day," enthused Haskin. "I'm having a blast! I love the people I work with, and I love our customers. It's just a great experience. It's been a lot of learning as I go, but it's been more rewarding than I expected."
Haskin renamed the Brighton business "Unwind Yarn Shop" to encourage area fiber artists to take time out for stitching to escape the daily grind. Located at 9912 E. Grand River, No. 1300, the 1,400-square-foot store serves not only as a comfortable environment, but a "teaching shop that also sells beautiful yarns and notions."
Its social media director, Kate Melcher, wrote in a recent email, "In addition to the community and materials, Unwind pushes the envelope in ways you might not expect from a local yarn shop. Knowledge is power at Unwind, and the staff supports students in learning new techniques. In fact, Unwind is currently running a contest in which students earn points for learning new techniques. To support the contest, the shop offers 19 learning opportunities each week, focusing on everything from the fundamentals of knitting and crochet, to the most advanced techniques in each discipline."
Haskin said, "We challenge them to grow and they've risen to that challenge. We spend time trying to encourage them to be better. We've seen a lot of growth in our customers and students, so it's been really rewarding."
At Unwind, each staff member is equipped with an iPad to assist customers in finding the yarn, pattern and notions right for their skill level to "ensure success" with their project. However, customers are welcome to browse and make their own selections without assistance.
To make knitting even more enjoyable, Unwind invites knitters to take part in a knit-along by walking and knitting in the Brighton community every Thursdayevening, weather permitting. Crocheters and non-crafters are welcome to join. The shop has also had a paint your own yarn bowl class, and for "Local Yarn Shop Day," customers played the board game "Last Knitter Standing."
There are also crochet-along projects, however, Haskin said, "We spend a lot of time trying to attract crocheters and crochet students, but it just doesn't seem to be as popular of a medium here in Livingston County. I don't know what we're missing. It's probably 80 to 20 (knitters to crocheters)."
Community work is important at Unwind, so to help increase awareness of the negative affects of bullying, the shop is currently participating in the national "Hat Not Hate" campaign, launched by Lion Brand Yarn in 2018, with blue hats as the symbol. Haskin said, "We're working at challenging people in how many blue hats we can get made by Aug. 1."
Contact: Unwind Yarn Shop (9912 E. Grand River, No. 1300, Brighton) at (810) 229-5579. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, email@example.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.