I’ve been visiting South Haven, Michigan for as long as I can remember. My family has a cottage on the lake and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. We often frequent the downtown shops and go for walks along the marina. Last summer I stumbled upon Needle in a Haystack just as I was starting to learn how to crochet. A few weeks ago I had the privilege to meet with Jane Nickerson, owner of Needle in a Haystack.
Walking into the store again was like being in yarn heaven. Okay, so I haven’t been to yarn heaven, but I would hope that yarn heaven looks a lot like Needle in a Haystack. I just love the yarn shelves and the colorful selection of yarn that this store has.
In the center of the store, you’ll find knitters in a half circle knitting, talking, and learning from each other. I sat down with Jane to ask her a few questions and to learn all about Needle in a Haystack.
Needle in a Haystack started six years ago after Jane moved from the east coast. She spent 30 years in the engineering field and she now owns horses. A friend of hers asked her one day, “Are you just going to sit around and knit and ride your horses?” and that’s how it all began. Jane’s friend was already in retail and helped her start her yarn shop. It just made sense and she’s been having a lot of fun working and running the store.
Jane grew up in L.A. and her mom taught her embroidery, sewing, and crocheting. When she moved to the east coast, she realized that she didn’t even own a coat. So she began to knit almost out of necessity as she paired her love of the needle-arts with her need for warm clothing. She met a designer in Connecticut who taught her how to knit and she’s been knitting ever since.
I asked Jane how she chooses which yarn to carry in her store. “I’m completely selfish. I see this as my personal stash. I bring in yarn that I think is fabulous.” She admits that it’s sometimes hard to convince others that certain yarn is amazing. When this happens, she decides to do some “yarn tasting” and she works up the yarn into a new design to show off the yarn’s potential. This can be one of the best ways to sell yarn and to create original designs at the same time.
“I don’t like doing what other designers do,” Jane said when referring to her own designs. She likes to design patterns for more than one fit which can be difficult. It is important to keep the usability of the pattern in mind and I loved how Jane had many options for many different body types. “I never thought I was a great knitter, but I guess I’m a fearless knitter.” Jane credits her engineering background to helping her experiment and try new things in her knitting. When designing, there has to be a lot of problem solving and it’s important to not get frustrated. Learning is just as fun as actually knitting the design. I think this is an important point for all pattern designers out there; even though you may make mistakes here and there, learning is part of the process that everyone goes through and it’s important to embrace what this teaches us.
Jane told me just doesn’t know what she’d do without knitting. I think a lot of us feel the same way about knitting or crochet and it’s always great to learn how passionate yarn store owners are about the yarn and the craft. If you’re from the Midwest, I highly encourage you to stop on by Needle in a Haystack and take a look around. The yarn is gorgeous, the people are friendly, and the store is wonderful!
Jane has a website called KnitKitCouture.com where you can put together your own knitting kit all online. Be sure to check out Needle in a Haystack’s website too because she’ll be adding patterns and other exciting news here as well!
While I was at Needle in a Haystack, I picked up some lovely yarn and I can’t wait to crochet something soon. I look forward to stopping by the store again soon!