Handmade: Mother, daughter have ‘fun with fiber’
Sometimes in life things just come together without a lot of effort. That’s how longtime knitter and crocheter Lora Miller of Milford was able to open the doors to her yarn shop, Fun with Fiber, with daughter and Walled Lake resident Shaye Nielsen, seven years ago.
“It really just kind of fell into place. It’s something I’d been working at, and just decided to go out on my own. I was teaching (knitting and crocheting) in a yarn store and the situation arose where my husband (David Miller) had space in his shop (Millers Artist Supplies Co.) at the time. We’ve since moved around the corner (33304 West 12 Mile, Farmington Hills), but that’s how it started.”
Miller learned to knit and crochet from her mom when she was 12, but says, “I do more knitting — mostly because crocheting I love, but it’s a little harder on my wrist. It’s more of a constant motion on my right hand, and with knitting you use both hands.”
With only about 20 percent of their customers being crocheters, Miller adds, “Knitting is definitely more popular because there are more patterns available, and knitting patterns are written a little more universally. Crocheting patterns don’t follow the same rule. They’re written all different kinds of ways, and they’re harder to interpret. The other reason is because when you knit, you have your stitches on your knitting needles, but with crocheting, it’s more visual. You have to be able to see where you can put your hook for your next stitch.”
Yet none of that has prevented the mother-daughter business partners from offering both crocheting and knitting classes in their shop. Classes are offered Monday through Saturday and each is two hours, with students working on their project of choice at their own pace.
“While our classes are very social — like most yarn shops -- we offer something you won’t find anywhere else. We present a ‘thought for the week’ with every class session. Our thoughts are teaching moments, and range from learning new techniques to fixing problems,” explained Miller.
Fees are $50 for a set of six classes (or $10 for a single two-hour class scheduled in advance). Your card will not be punched if you miss a class. Private sessions are available for $15 an hour. In total, there are five people working at the shop, and they all teach and “work the floor.”
Knitter and crocheter Dondi Parker of West Bloomfield has been a Fun with Fiber customer for the past six years. Asked what she likes about the shop, she replied, “The community relationships, it’s a pretty diverse group, and it’s a friendly atmosphere. She (Lora) allows everybody to be a free spirit. Some shops will challenge you with every little assistance you need. There have been other shops I could have went to, but I decided to stick with this one. Lora makes sure everything we need is in the store, and if we ask for something, she’ll research and bring it in for you.”
Customer Donna Goldsmith of Northville, who’s been knitting “probably 45 years,” said Fun with Fiber is like her “Cheers” (sitcom), a place where you go and feel welcome. “Everyone knows you and recognizes you when you walk in. It’s just that nice place to gather and participate in a craft that I enjoy doing. It’s that kind of camaraderie, and I think it’s really a testament to Lora and Shaye that they build that into their business model.”
Customers can look forward to a number of special events throughout the year, including trunk shows, workshops, and visits by local artists who spin and/or dye their own yarn.
Among favorite supplies sold at Fun with Fiber are custom knitting needles by Signature Needle Arts. Miller said “no one else in the state of Michigan” carries that brand of needles. “They are metal and they’re high-end — just a very nice tool to work with. They’re very popular with the customers. I have people who come from all over the state just for those needles, and they come from out of state, as well. They are lightweight and very pointy.”
Fun with Fiber is running a summer special now through Labor Day. Buy a class card, don’t miss any of the six sessions, and receive 25 percent off a purchase.
In case you plan to stop by Fun with Fiber, one thing to remember is that it’s a “fragrance-free zone,” meaning you’re asked to “refrain from wearing perfumes, scented lotions and/or colognes.” Miller said. “Perfume bothers me, and a lot of my customers are very sensitive to it. When somebody comes in and they’re sitting for two hours, it can be very irritating.”
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.
Contact Fun with Fiber (33304 West 12 Mile, Farmington Hills) at (248) 553-4237, funwithfiber.com or on Facebook.