Handmade: Yarn Garden grows knitting, crocheting skills
The Yarn Garden is a uniquely decorated shop in Charlotte where needleart enthusiasts are growing skills as knitters and crocheters in what’s “reminiscent of a garden space.”
Charlotte resident Lindsay Potter, 34, purchased the already established yarn shop in 2007, back when she was a “kid” just out of college, where she majored in economics and management, with a minor in studio art. She spent the next 10 years looking for the perfect spot for her business, and as luck would have it, she found it just feet away — around the corner at 131 S. Cochran.
“We just celebrated one year in the space in April,” she said. “It’s been amazing! I’m in a larger space and I had the opportunity to bring 10 years of experience to a new and completely empty space and design the store in the direction I want my business to go in.”
After demolishing the interior of the 130-year-old building down to its original ceiling and flooring, Potter said, “I’ve done the whole interior to be reminiscent of a garden space. I have several different locations (inside). I have the tool shed where all my needles and notions are. I have the potting bench where I showcase newer yarns coming in. I have a pergola that’s built inside, and that’s my comfortable seating area. I have a barn structure which I call the barn yard, and it’s my classroom space with table and chairs. And, I (also) have an outhouse inside the building.
“I have tall ceilings, so there was lots of space for me to build these structures. I’ve had a blast! I used a lot of doors, some repurposed items and old ladders.”
And, what would a garden theme be without plants? “I have live plants scattered throughout,” she said. “I’m not as green of a thumb as I’d like to be, but this year, I’m hoping to create more of a container garden in the back — outside the shop.”
When first-time customers enter the 1,700-square-foot shop, Potter enjoys listening to their comments. She said, “They’re taken aback by the structures. I love to hear the appreciation they have. One customer (Jeanne Simon) I talked to yesterday, described her first time as a ‘visual adventure.’ ”
Activities at the Yarn Garden include the Tuesday Night Knitters, a social knitting group; and private knitting and crocheting lessons for children and adults at $10 an hour per person. “I call myself a native knitter, but I do have crochet skills,” said Potter. “I can usually help people with crocheting, or put them in touch with a more knowledgeable crocheter.” She has both crocheting and knitting instructors come into the shop to teach.
Among yarns sold at the shop are Round Mountain Fibers, Mountain Colors, Wonderland Yarns, Berroco, Noro, “every single color of Cascade’s Heritage,” and fingering-weight fibers for socks. Potter also “like(s) to support several indie dyers here in Michigan — AJHC Wools, and Splash of Color Yarns.”
Since her first year as owner of the Yarn Garden, Potter has hosted a fall weekend getaway for knitters and crocheters to Shipshewana. “Just about every generation is represented there,” she said. “We generally have a project that we work on together, and that’s part of the goodie bag they get when they sign-up. This year, my sign-up was all done via my website (yarngardenmichigan.com), and I sold 50 spots in less than 15 minutes! Forty was supposed to have been the maximum.” The fee for this year’s event, set for Nov. 2-4, is $320 per person, which includes lodging, most meals and entertainment.
And, for Stitches Midwest, a national convention for such crafters as knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, etc., Potter organizes a day trip by reserving a motor coach for 45-50 knitters and crocheters. “We pick up here in Charlotte, and we head down to Kalamazoo and pick up another group. I’ve done it the last several years.”
With more plans for growing the Yarn Garden, Potter, the mother of 4-year-old twin girls, hopes to someday “take over the world and teach everyone to knit.” But on a more serious note, she said, “I hope to really expand my website and offerings. I know an online store will never take over a brick and mortar experience, but if I can expand my services to those who can’t visit me in person, that’s what I’d like to do. And, I plan to create a YouTube channel for the Yarn Garden. I now do some Facebook-like stuff, and the response I get is tremendous!”
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter.You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact the Yarn Garden (131 South Cochran, Charlotte) at yarngardenmichigan.com. Email: email@example.com.