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The Yarn Stop: “Winding Up” Two Years of Commerce, Classes, Community Engagement – and Fun

The Yarn Stop: “Winding Up” Two Years of Commerce, Classes, Community Engagement – and Fun

Troy resident Susan Hendrie is knitting a sweater for a new baby in her family. A soft, cozy rainbow of muted reds, blues, and yellows, the project is almost completed.

“I needed a little help finishing it,” Hendrie says, “so I came here to a daily “Help Me” session at The Yarn Stop in Clawson, where I can have time, one-on-one, with a yarn project instructor.”

And as teacher Kelly Sprague and Hendrie work together at the large oak table in the front of the store in the picture-window’s pleasant, natural light, they chat, laugh and banter with owner Sam Gill, who is putting away a new shipment of fall yarns.

“This is a wonderful store!” Hendrie exclaims. “You feel very comfortable. Some yarn stores can be stuffy, with an air. It’s open and welcoming. You learn a lot from other knitters, too.”

“The instructors here are fabulous. So is the owner,” teases Hendrie, nodding in Gill’s direction. “These teachers can get you out of anything! You don’t need to be afraid. I come to The Yarn Stop so often that my phone created an icon, telling me how many minutes it will take me to get here,” she laughs.

“Drop-in ‘Help Me’ sessions are available every afternoon from 3-5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The cost is six dollars for one hour, and we don’t care if your yarn was purchased here or not,” says Gill, who learned how to knit as a teen.

“I’d traveled to Belgium as part of ‘Up with People,’” Gill shares, “and my ‘host mom’ taught me to knit. I set it aside during college, but I picked it back up again about eighteen years ago – and now I’m here, running the most fun business I could imagine.”

A longtime, former administrative assistant with a large accounting firm, Gill wanted a change of career.

“I was fed up with the corporate world,” he says. “I heard about this store (formerly PK Yarnover) coming up for sale and came and talked to them about it. Six weeks later, my partner — Mike Brunck – and I owned it.”

“We took a very big leap off a very tall cliff,” Gill chuckles, “and after two years, we are doing remarkably well. In fact, we will now be open on Mondays, starting September 10. We hadn’t projected that for another year!”

He adds, “I’m very happy that we saved this store from closing. It would’ve been the fourth or fifth area yarn store to close within eighteen months.”

The Yarn Stop will be celebrating their two-year anniversary on Saturday, September 8, with contests, charity events, sales – and more.

“During the day,” says Gill, “We will have knitting and crocheting for charity on the sidewalk. We are having a sale, with double points on our loyalty program, and door prizes galore.”

There will also be ten-minute demonstrations including: how to wear a shawl, crafting for charity, and knitting German short rows (used for shaping sweater shoulders, for example).

“We will also have our famous dance breaks,” Gill smiles, “including ‘chair dancing.’”

“The business is serious to me, but the yarn is not,” says Gill. “Who can come into this store and not smile when they see all the colors and textures of yarn everywhere?”

“We laugh a lot and have community within the store. And, we’re actually helping our customers ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s by sharing an activity with a ‘hand-to-brain’ connection.”

There is plenty of published information about the health benefits of yarn crafts. In an article in Neurology, NYU professor Dr. James Galvin reported that cognitive impairment may be modifiable with activities that are sociable and…involve learning new tasks and skills – “like those we happily engage in here, every day,” exclaims Gill.

“We welcome people to enjoy our store and the yarn,” Gill says. “We have 100 percent wools and so many sumptuous blends: cashmere, llama, silk, linen, hemp, cotton. You can’t help but touch them, though we do request that you keep them away from your face.”

Though many of the yarns are blended with acrylic, The Yarn Stop does not carry yarns that are purely acrylic, and yarns are not sold on their website.

“The true colors and marvelous textures would never come through online,” explains Gill.

Their website does list the many classes for knitting and crocheting as well as daily activities that range from open, social knit or crochet and the “Help Me!” sessions to details about ongoing, in-store charity gatherings including  Mittens for Detroit’s “Smitten with Mittens” design contest (ending September 22, 2018) and Knit Michigan (knitmichigan.org), which provides chemo caps, blankets for hospitalized children, knitted octopus animals for neonatal-care babies (the babies pull on the tentacles instead of their intravenous tubing), and cotton “knitted knockers” for women who’ve had mastectomies.

“I’m proud of the charity that our customers engage in and that we are a shop that keeps our class size small: only six people,” says Gill, who especially enjoys knitting socks, shawls, and hats. “And it was quite an honor for us to win Clawson’s highest award, ‘Putting Clawson on the Map,’ as well as WDIV’s ‘Best of Craft Stores,’ which we also just won.”

“But mostly,” Gill concludes, “we’re very glad to be able to provide a place for community – and fun.”

The Yarn Stop
25 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI  48017
248-808-6630
theyarnstop.com

Troy resident Susan Hendrie is knitting a sweater for a new baby in her family. A soft, cozy rainbow of muted reds, blues, and yellows, the project is almost completed.

“I needed a little help finishing it,” Hendrie says, “so I came here to a daily “Help Me” session at The Yarn Stop in Clawson, where I can have time, one-on-one, with a yarn project instructor.”

And as teacher Kelly Sprague and Hendrie work together at the large oak table in the front of the store in the picture-window’s pleasant, natural light, they chat, laugh and banter with owner Sam Gill, who is putting away a new shipment of fall yarns.

“This is a wonderful store!” Hendrie exclaims. “You feel very comfortable. Some yarn stores can be stuffy, with an air. It’s open and welcoming. You learn a lot from other knitters, too.”

“The instructors here are fabulous. So is the owner,” teases Hendrie, nodding in Gill’s direction. “These teachers can get you out of anything! You don’t need to be afraid. I come to The Yarn Stop so often that my phone created an icon, telling me how many minutes it will take me to get here,” she laughs.

“Drop-in ‘Help Me’ sessions are available every afternoon from 3-5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The cost is six dollars for one hour, and we don’t care if your yarn was purchased here or not,” says Gill, who learned how to knit as a teen.

“I’d traveled to Belgium as part of ‘Up with People,’” Gill shares, “and my ‘host mom’ taught me to knit. I set it aside during college, but I picked it back up again about eighteen years ago – and now I’m here, running the most fun business I could imagine.”

A longtime, former administrative assistant with a large accounting firm, Gill wanted a change of career.

“I was fed up with the corporate world,” he says. “I heard about this store (formerly PK Yarnover) coming up for sale and came and talked to them about it. Six weeks later, my partner — Mike Brunck – and I owned it.”

“We took a very big leap off a very tall cliff,” Gill chuckles, “and after two years, we are doing remarkably well. In fact, we will now be open on Mondays, starting September 10. We hadn’t projected that for another year!”

He adds, “I’m very happy that we saved this store from closing. It would’ve been the fourth or fifth area yarn store to close within eighteen months.”

The Yarn Stop will be celebrating their two-year anniversary on Saturday, September 8, with contests, charity events, sales – and more.

“During the day,” says Gill, “We will have knitting and crocheting for charity on the sidewalk. We are having a sale, with double points on our loyalty program, and door prizes galore.”

There will also be ten-minute demonstrations including: how to wear a shawl, crafting for charity, and knitting German short rows (used for shaping sweater shoulders, for example).

“We will also have our famous dance breaks,” Gill smiles, “including ‘chair dancing.’”

“The business is serious to me, but the yarn is not,” says Gill. “Who can come into this store and not smile when they see all the colors and textures of yarn everywhere?”

“We laugh a lot and have community within the store. And, we’re actually helping our customers ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s by sharing an activity with a ‘hand-to-brain’ connection.”

There is plenty of published information about the health benefits of yarn crafts. In an article in Neurology, NYU professor Dr. James Galvin reported that cognitive impairment may be modifiable with activities that are sociable and…involve learning new tasks and skills – “like those we happily engage in here, every day,” exclaims Gill.

“We welcome people to enjoy our store and the yarn,” Gill says. “We have 100 percent wools and so many sumptuous blends: cashmere, llama, silk, linen, hemp, cotton. You can’t help but touch them, though we do request that you keep them away from your face.”

Though many of the yarns are blended with acrylic, The Yarn Stop does not carry yarns that are purely acrylic, and yarns are not sold on their website.

“The true colors and marvelous textures would never come through online,” explains Gill.

Their website does list the many classes for knitting and crocheting as well as daily activities that range from open, social knit or crochet and the “Help Me!” sessions to details about ongoing, in-store charity gatherings including  Mittens for Detroit’s “Smitten with Mittens” design contest (ending September 22, 2018) and Knit Michigan (knitmichigan.org), which provides chemo caps, blankets for hospitalized children, knitted octopus animals for neonatal-care babies (the babies pull on the tentacles instead of their intravenous tubing), and cotton “knitted knockers” for women who’ve had mastectomies.

“I’m proud of the charity that our customers engage in and that we are a shop that keeps our class size small: only six people,” says Gill, who especially enjoys knitting socks, shawls, and hats. “And it was quite an honor for us to win Clawson’s highest award, ‘Putting Clawson on the Map,’ as well as WDIV’s ‘Best of Craft Stores,’ which we also just won.”

“But mostly,” Gill concludes, “we’re very glad to be able to provide a place for community – and fun.”

The Yarn Stop
25 S. Main Street
Clawson, MI  48017
248-808-6630
theyarnstop.com

Rita O’Brien Design Group:
Inspirational Interiors
03
OCTOBER 2018
BY PATTY LANOUE STEARNS
LBN Community Series
Troy
It’s a jam-packed day for Rita O’Brien.
The interior designer spent the morning at her client’s house in Clarkston, overseeing a demo of the kitchen, and now they’re back at O’Brien’s office and showroom in Troy’s Michigan Design Center, selecting pieces that will go in the room. Later on, O’Brien will board a bus with a bunch of her designer pals to check out the Junior League of Detroit’s Designer Showcase at the Fisher Mansion in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood.

RITA O'BRIEN

OWNER OF RITA O’BRIEN DESIGN GROUP
Then it’s back to work on the kitchen renovation the next day with her client, Karrie DeLuca, who sings nothing but praises for O’Brien, from her ever-sunny disposition to her insightful ideas for transforming spaces.

“She did our pool house,” says DeLuca. “”We had lived in Asia and wanted a Balinese look. I met with Rita, and she was able to take what was in my head and make it happen. It was exactly as I hoped it would be.”

DeLuca loved O’Brien’s work so much that she asked O’Brien to do her kitchen. That project should be completed by Christmas.

As head of O’Brien Design Group, the designer has racked up a slew of awards, numerous magazine articles, and has earned a reputation as “The Color Whisperer” for her expertise at choosing perfect shades.

O’Brien has always had a flair for design—she recalls helping her mother rearrange things as a young girl—but she hasn’t always been an interior designer. Her first job in her hometown of Cleveland was a reservationist for United Airlines, moving up as a gate agent at the Cleveland Airport, then a manager of the airline’s Red Carpet Club, then training and development of the travel-agency industry for UA’s Chicago office, and after that, she opened her own travel-incentive company, Target Travel.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”
Her transition into interior design began while she was living in Chicago. Her first client there wanted an entire home redone. “It was trial by fire,” she recalls, but luckily she had the massive Merchandise Mart at her disposal, and she availed herself of many sales reps who helped her learn the business.

Ten years ago, after moving to Michigan, she started her design business in her basement in Birmingham, then moved to a studio at Cole and Hazel in the same city. Two and a half years ago, she moved to the design center, a vast complex of showrooms for high-end home furnishings, lighting, flooring and all things interior.

“This is heaven,” she smiles. “The design center is open to the public and there is no other resource like this in the state. Everything is here for the client as well, so when the client meets me here, we tour the design center.”

O’Brien is one of five interior designers with studios at the MDC. “I don’t have any one style — it depends on my clients’ needs and their tastes. I would say I’m a chameleon. I can do contemporary, eclectic, traditional, over the top, just whatever genre my client wants, that’s what we do.” To stay on top of trends and styles, she goes to High Point, NC, twice a year to see what’s new.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”

That gives O’Brien, who does loads of renovations from the studs up, a lot of joy. “It’s so rewarding to take a room and transform it completely.”

Some of her suggestions include where to place electrical outlets, where to put light bulbs, what drywall to use, where not to enlarge a space. Scale—too big or too small—is a big issue when people buy something like a sectional, coffee table or dining room set, get it home, and it looks terrible in the room.

“So many times people will say after they hire me: ‘If only I’d met you before I bought this piece,’ because it’s not to scale,” says O’Brien, who either has to work around the piece or it has to go. Her clients have told her “I’m saving money by using you.”

For new clients, she offers a complimentary 30-minute in-studio consultation, and her fees are by the hour or by the project. If you want to change colors in your home, she can schedule a two-hour visit. She also acts as the point person between the client and tradespeople for complete renovations, and has developed a fine network of people she recommends. “I work with many trades that I know are topnotch. You gravitate toward people you can trust—who have your back and you have theirs.”

It’s clear O’Brien has found her perfect niche. She not only loves her challenging work, she loves the people. “It’s a very personal job, because most of my projects are five to six months, and then you do the next room and the next one, and you get to know these people well. They develop a trust with you, and once you’ve done one room, it’s “Oh, I know you get me, you understand what I want.”
O’Brien works on eight to 12 projects at a time for a plethora of clients. Her white board in the rear of her studio reflects a busy but organized schedule. She carries unique items such as customized leather “quote” books, home furnishings and private furniture lines. Her company also represents many Detroit artists, whose lively, mostly abstract works punctuate her showroom walls. Her husband, Tom O’Brien, reps the artists, who include Tony Roko, Darcel Deneau, Claudia Hershman, Laurel Pitynski, Mark Wolak, Michael O’Reilly, Sue Zinger and others.

So does Rita O’Brien, the designer with the unflappable spirit, ever get frustrated? Not really.

“Sometimes you know if they only removed the one piece, it would be better. But you have to honor the fact that that one piece is special to them. What I find exciting is that there’s this one piece that I have to use and surround it and make it look beautiful.”

Rita O’Brien Design Group
Michigan Design Center
1700 Stutz Dr., Suite 115
Troy, MI 48084
248-326-5353
www.ritaobrien.com
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