Handmade: One door closes, Sticks & Strings opens

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

When the Lansing area yarn shop Sabrina Woodward and Kathy McCormack worked for closed its doors, the two knitting enthusiasts decided they weren’t ready to give up being part of a community of knitters.

So, about a week later, in September 2010, they met for lunch and said, “Hey, why can’t we do this?” Just six weeks later, they put their resources together and opened Sticks & Strings, a yarn shop, at 1107 N. Washington, in an area of Lansing known as “Old Town,” where all the shops have “unique or kitschy names” that refer to the type of service they offer.

“I’ve always loved fibers and crafts,” said Woodward, who lives in Holt. “I always wanted some sort of place where I could offer classes when I retired from corporate life. I had a job at a yarn shop and I enjoyed it.” As manager of the yarn shop that closed, she said, “I had a lot of contacts with yarn supply vendors, so that made it easy to get yarn in.”

McCormack, a resident of Sunfield, has always taken great pleasure in having a close-knit relationship with customers. “I love helping customers — helping them pick out their yarn, and fix their problems. It’s rewarding. I (also) enjoy showing them new techniques, mostly knitting,” she said, admitting she only “dabbles” in crocheting.

Having the shop has helped the quick-thinking business partners build an even larger community of knitters to surround themselves with. “Knitters have such big hearts,” said Woodward. “We do a lot of community projects, and they’re always there for us to support those causes. We value their relationship with us and their continued support.” Among customers are several men, including a surgeon, who knit and crochet.

Unlike some yarn shops, Sticks & Strings offers not only knitting classes, but crocheting instructions, as well. McCormack who learned to crochet “probably within the last five years,” said, “I knew I had to get more into it when we opened the shop so I could help customers.” But for classes, they have a skilled instructor come in to teach those interested in learning to crochet.

Woodward, a knitter, crocheter, weaver and spinner, said needlearts are “extremely popular” in Lansing, and their shop has offered various forms of weaving since around November of last year. “I have done a couple classes, and we’ve had an outside instructor come in.”

She feels knitting and crocheting have gotten more popular because “People have come to realize it’s relaxing and therapeutic, and the fibers are so much fun (these days). I learned to knit when I was eight. It was so rigid back then with just scratchy wool and acrylic. Now, the yarn can make your project!”

When it comes to charity work, Woodward said, “We have a group of people who knit teddy bears that they give to the police department to have in their car when they come across an incident that involves a child. We also have a lap robe mission for Sparrow Hospice House in Lansing. We collect personal needs items for a couple different charities. We (also) collect socks for the city rescue mission.”

In addition to charity projects, and classes for ages 10 and up, Sticks & Strings offers many activities throughout the year. “We have knit-alongs where we invite customers to come knit the same project with us. We have yarn tastings when we get new yarns in (whereby) we wind off 10 yards of each yarn for customers to try. We (also) do a Stitch and Pitch, a yarn shop hop, and one of the unique things is called Knit ER. It’s a class, but it’s a free service, where people can come in and fix something, like a dropped stitch. They come in stressed, and leave all happy because we’ve taken care of it.”

Price-wise, their yarn collection includes something for almost every budget. Skeins range from approximately $4-$40 each, and popular brands include Classic Elite, Plymouth and Berroco. The 1,500-square-foot shop also has a large selection of knitting and crocheting supplies — ball winders, needles (individuals, sets and replacement parts), buttons, shawl pins, books, project bags, and more. (A visit to Sticks & Strings sounds like the perfect day trip to celebrate spring!)

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact Sticks & Strings (1107 N. Washington, Lansing) at (517) 372-1000 or Email: