JOCELYNN BROWN

Handmade: Opportunity in Clawson leads to the Yarn Stop

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

When opportunity knocked, Sam Gill and Mike Brunck quickly answered. In August, the Ferndale couple became the new owners of PK Yarn Over Knit in downtown Clawson, after purchasing it from former owner Paula Kelley. And, to give the place a “fresh start,” they renamed it the Yarn Stop.

“I found out about the opportunity, and then wanted to do it, and Mike came along on the ride with me, so to speak,” said Gill, who “left the corporate world after being in one job for 16 years” to pursue his dream. “Since he’s a crocheter and I’m a knitter, and we both had been in the knit and crochet world for a while, we thought it would be a good business step. We had been wanting to own our own business, but we really didn’t know what kind. After talking with people in the fiberart world, a yarn store seemed like it would be fun to run. We know it’s hard work, but we thought it would be something enjoyable. The old saying is – ‘If you find something you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’”

What can customers expect to be different under the new ownership? “We’re going to add some new yarns, and we’re going to offer different style classes. I want to expand and find ways to bring customers in to buy new stuff, even if it’s from an independent,” said Gill. They also plan to continue stocking “yarns that customers are accustomed to, such as yarns from Plymouth, Berroco, Cestari and many more, as well as bring in some new yarns that will spark creativity.”

Gill said he’s also “going to do a push to try to get men to knit and crochet.” And, unlike most yarn shops, the Yarn Stop won’t be “focusing just on knitting.” Classes in beginner to advance crocheting techniques will be offered, as well. However, both knitters and crocheters can expect to see new lines of crochet hooks and knitting needles in different materials.

“I want to make crocheters feel welcome,” said Brunck, who’s been crocheting since 1984, after learning from a friend’s mother while in college. But because he still works, he’ll only be able to spend time in the shop on the Saturdays when he’s not needed in his office. “We’re trying to find other crocheters that are willing to teach,” he said.

Gill, who’ll be teaching some of the knitting classes, also learned to knit in the ’80s, back when he toured with the group Up With People. “We traveled to Europe, and while I was there, one of my host mothers was knitting, so I asked her to show me, and I just picked it up from there. I like to knit socks, scarves and shawls. I’ve done a couple sweaters, but I’m more of a sock knitter,” he stated. “For years, when I worked in downtown Detroit, I would ride the bus everyday, so the smaller projects would carry easy in my backpack. I used to knit on the bus every day and at lunch.”

Classes will include not only beginner knit and crochet, but sock knitting, making shawls, skill enhancements, pick-your own-project, and more. Two classes of eight can be accommodated simultaneously at different tables, and there will also be a quick help option offered at an hourly rate ($6) for anyone needing a little instructional guidance with a project.

In terms of physical changes, Gill and Brunck had the inside of the 1450 square-foot store re-painted. “It was a white, so we’ve taken it to black and white with purple accents. The black is actually chalkboard black, and I have a little area for kids so they can write on it,” said Gill. They’ve also “remixed and rearranged” the old yarn to “open the store up a little bit.”

Hours of operation have also been expanded. They’re now 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, “so people can stop in after work,” and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Last month, the official opening of the Yarn Stop was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by the Clawson Chamber of Commerce, and attended by Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs.

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 The Yarn Stop (25 South Main, Clawson) at the yarnstop.com, info@theyarnstop.com or on Facebook or Twitter.