At Center of the Yarniverse in Ashland, Stacey Williamson has created a colorful, cozy place for people who knit and crochet to find yarn and inspiration.
Williamson opened the shop at 109 England St. in early October.
It was a career change for her. She was a special education teacher in Hanover County for the past 10 years, and before that she worked for 11 years at UMFS, also known as United Methodist Family Services.
She started knitting about 15 years ago with a women’s group at her church. They made prayer shawls.
“It’s something nice and relaxing to do,” Williamson said. When her children were younger and she took them to volleyball practices and games, she carried her knitting needles and yarn with her to pass the time.
Last December while in Charlottesville for a teacher training program, Williamson said she and coworker stopped at a local yarn shop one evening.
Williamson remembers a feeling of being in her “happy place.”
“It’s so colorful and calm. Being around all the other people who were working on their projects, that planted the seed. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do this,” she said she thought to herself.
“I told my husband if I did it, I knew it had to be in Ashland. That was the place for it,” she said.
She began looking for a possible location. She spotted a “for rent” sign at the location on England Street, but when she called it had already been taken.
Later, she learned that the “for rent” sign was back up. She drove by to see for herself and then immediately called to inquire about it.
“It happened a little bit faster than I was expecting, but I knew I couldn’t miss the chance,” Williamson said.
She took out a loan to finance the startup costs and began turning the 620-square-foot space into a cozy yarn and needlecrafts nook. She got expert guidance and mentoring from Debbie Floyd who owns the Dances With Wool yarn and accessories shop in Chesterfield County.
“She actually reached out to me and offered any kind of assistance or advice,” Williamson said.
Williamson also went online to search for yarn vendors. The store carries a variety of yarns at different price points. The store will have a trunk show Dec. 1 from noon to 6 p.m. for Urban Girl Yarns, hand-dyed yarns from Richmond artist Shelia Anderson.
Williamson has three part-time employees - Sandy Aldridge, Jenna Hycner and Eileen McMahon - all longtime knitters who teach classes at the shop. She plans to hire a crochet teacher.
“It’s been better than I expected,” Williamson said. “I had hopes of what it would be. We’ve got people in here every day."