December 14, 2011 - By Olivia Shumaker
Special Writer for The Review
Step inside the door of Heritage Spinning and Weaving in downtown Lake Orion and you feel something special. Among the endless yarns, threads, patterns and tools is a welcoming aura of comfort and warmth.
While the sheer volume of craft opportunities offered at Heritage can be overwhelming, there is no doubt the business appreciates its customers.
Heritage was founded in 2000 by Joan Sheridan, a year after she first learned how to spin and weave. The shop has grown since then, not only to cover the entire first floor of the building it occupies at 47 E. Flint Street, but also to become a haven for novice and experienced knitting enthusiasts, spinners and weavers.
"That's one cool thing about this place - age doesn't seem to matter," said Sheridan, remembering the time she sold a spinning wheel to a 95-year-old blind woman. She also has met and worked with weavers as young as seven-years-old, with the goal of always inspiring passion for the craft and to help people learn.
Spinning is the practice of culling your own yarn, using either a wheel or spindle. Children in other cultures learn the practice at an early age, and it can be done with a number of different fibers to produce varying textures of yarn, Sheridan explained.
Heritage carries commonly used fibers, including wool and cotton, but also sells more exotic materials, such as camel hair and qiviut, or musk ox down. Most spinners produce yarn for their own use, in assorted quantities depending on the project. For example, an adult sweater would require three pounds of fiber to be spun into yarn.
Weaving, a practice now on the rise, is taught in a wide range of techniques at Heritage. The shop offers classes in various weaving options, including a six-hour-long beginner class where students use a ridge heddle loom to complete a scarf.
The shop sells simple potholder kits for children to complex weaves for advanced, dedicated craftsmen. It also offers a range of weaving tools, from Kumihimo disks to table and floor looms.
"We have beginning classes in knitting, crochet, tatting, rigid heddle weaving, traditional weaving, Japanese braiding and tablet weaving," the owner said. "Each week we offer knitting help times."
Shoppers can expect much more than just a shelf of yarn. Sheridan and her staff take new customers on a shop tour to introduce them to the countless number of products available. The shop's front is full of fashion or hand wash yarn, which can be used in creating garments. In the front corner is a loom programmed by a computer, which Sheridan says impresses customers. To the side is Heritage's line of yarns, plus yarns for lace knitting, including yarn from the Shetland Isles.
Behind the desk is a collection of the tools of Heritage's trade—needles, crochet hooks, and more. "Any builder will tell you that you don't want the K-mart brand tools. You want quality equipment," Sheridan said.
Further back is the popular Sock Room, where Heritage houses more than 500 choices in sock yarn and a table where visitors gather to attend classes, get help with a project, or just spend the afternoon knitting.
To the left of the Sock Room is where the more unusual spinning fibers are kept, including camel hair. There also is a shelf where all of the newly arrived items are kept in easy reach, integrated into the other store stock as newer items arrive, from books to yarns. Beyond the Sock Room is the Grandma Room, where all of the machine washable yarns can be found.
Heritage Spinning and Weaving is open seven days a week. More information can be found at www.heritagespinning.com.