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Woven Art Yarn Shop in downtown East Lansing is a "destination shop." 

Meg Larned Croft, who purchased the shop from its previous owner, said she gets customers from Mount Pleasant, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit and its suburbs, and Flint. "A lot of my UP (Upper Peninsula) customers are, maybe, taking their pets to MSU (Michigan State University) veterinarian hospital."

And, being just two blocks north of MSU, at 325 Grove, Suite B, she also has a number of students, both under graduates and graduates, as customers, in addition to staff and faculty. "Then, also MSU has conventions and conferences, so I get out-of-towners," she said. Of course, as we all know, knitters and crocheters seek out yarn shops when traveling. Overall, her customers tend to range "anywhere from 19- year-old undergrads to retired MSU professors in their 70s."

Larned Croft, 45, and her husband moved to Michigan in 2008 from Cambridge, MA, after he got a job at a local hospital. Prior to living a year in Cambridge, the two resided in Albuquerque, N. Mex., where she worked for a nonprofit contemporary art shop.

The East Lansing resident, who earned a masters degree in Islamic and Medieval Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, said it's "wonderful" owning a yarn shop. "I am really glad I enjoy the business side of it, as well," she stated, because I'm definitely not knitting during the day, but I love running a business and helping customers.

"When I lived in Cambridge, I had the luck to work at a downtown yarn shop on Newbury street (in Boston) called Newbury Yarns. The owner took me under her wings. Then when I moved to Michigan, I expressed to the previous owner of this shop that I wanted my employment to be an internship. She opened up everything to me so I could experience what it was like owning a yarn shop, and that was very helpful to have that experience in the industry before making the purchase.

"She was a practicing artist who wanted to go back to her weaving, and it seemed like a good time for her to step away, and I was interested  in keeping the business going." So, Larned Croft bought the shop in 2013, after the owner retired, and added the words "yarn shop" as part of the name.

She said, her "primary business is with knitters, then a little with crocheters, a little more with weavers and spinners, who tend to be any of the above." 

Larned Croft, a knitter, crocheter, spinner and weaver, said activities at the shop include social stitching on Thursdays and Sundays for knitters and crocheters, and a Little Looms group that meets once or twice a week with participants using hand-held tapestry looms. We (also) have groups that come and spin together. In the past, we've had Spinzilla in October. Spinners join teams and compete to get the most yardage. Our team did really well last year. We did not have one this year because the national organization canceled it."

Also offered at the shop are six and eight week floor loom (weaving) classes, custom sweater design classes, and private lessons for children by appointment. Overall, class prices range anywhere from $15 to $150, depending on what's being taught.

Larned Croft thinks knitting is extremely popular among needle artists because "there's such an amazing breath of patterns coming out. There's just been a real expansion in the  hand-dyed market, and I think there's been a lot of really great patterns and yarns. But, there are also some great new crochet designs out there that I'm excited about," she said. 

As the new owner, Larned Croft has made expansions to the shop in both its inventory and physical space. "We expanded quite a bit -- pulling in a lot of American made yarns and hand dyers. And, this past spring in April, we expanded physically into the space next door. We went from about 1,500 square feet to probably 2,800 square feet. And, we're also incubating my friend's fabric shop (Seams Fabric). It's a separate business, but she has the other store front."

There are even more plans in the making, including expanding the weaving and spinning sections, more made in the U.S. yarns, and more classes.

Woven Art Yarn Shop sounds like a wonderful destination for a day trip!

Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or Facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact Woven Art Yarn Shop (325 Grove, St. B, East Lansing) at (517) 203-4467 or on Facebook. Email: wovenartshop@gmail.com.  

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