The fire completely destroyed my business in Homosassa last year,” said Debra Neville, 60, owner of a small yarn company that offered knitting and crocheting supplies and classes.
More than a year later and that large fire — which also destroyed several other small businesses — is still under investigation.
“I loved my business and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” she said. “But I knew I wouldn’t give up so I used my own money and set up again, on a smaller scale, here in Spring Hill,” she said.
Her new business, A Stitching Witch, that opened on Jan. 8, 2017, is tucked away just off US19 at 2915 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.
Neville said she was very young — about 3 years old — when she picked up her first pair of knitting needles in England and was taught to knit. Her father was stationed at a military base near London and so Neville attended school in England until she was 7 years old.
“School was good in England,” she said. “Back to the US, I graduated two years ahead,” she said proudly.
Neville’s yarn shop has everything you need to do spinning, weaving, knitting and crocheting, including a large collection of patterns. She also brings to the table her very considerable expertise in those traditions, along with all of the fibers, notions and instruments to do so.
It’s hard to pinpoint when it happened, but knitting, weaving and crocheting is no longer the preserve of grannies, Neville said. It’s certainly making a comeback. It’s become “cool” and now a very popular hobby with the younger generations showing off their creations on Pinterest and Etsy.
“Knitting is therapeutic, it’s social and very accessible to everyone these days,” said Neville. “It’s something that everyday, ordinary people are willing to try their hand at, and if they don’t know how to knit, then I’ll teach them,” she said.
The shelves at A Stitching Witch just burst with color and are filled with top of the line yarns from around the world. Neville’s stock includes silk, cotton, rayon, ribbon, sheep and alpaca wool and rabbit angora.
Because some knitters still need to touch the product before they buy, Neville hopes the quality and variety of her yarns will draw people to her shop.
Brands stocked at A Stitching Witch include Malabrigo, Feza, Blue Heron, Done Roving, Koigu, Interlacements, Knitters Pride, as well as yarns closer to home like local alpaca fibers.
“My favorite yarn is Malabrigo because of the lovely colors,” said Neville. Each skein is hand dyed one by one.”
Friendships are knit at Neville’s shop too. She holds weekly knitting sessions and workshops for her customers who share a passion for yarn and the warm ambience of the shop.
Sandi Malay, a friend and volunteer at the shop said she thought she would never be able to knit because she is left-handed but Neville taught her to knit more than two years ago.
“Once you come to the Sit, Knit and Nosh workshop that’s held here every Thursday, you never want to leave. It’s so friendly,” said Malay, sitting at the large eight-seater work table in the center of the shop.
Another regular volunteer at the yarn shop is Gay Batzel who said the gathering is very informal and we bring in snacks and drinks to share. Another knitter will ask you a question and before you know it, you’re giving them tips on how to do it.
“We get all age groups here; some come for an hour or two and others like to stay all day so we can help them through a stitching problem,” said Batzel.
According to various studies knitting, along with art, music, cooking, quilting and sewing, is a creative art and can be beneficial to us in a number of ways. Pastimes like these have long been lauded as therapeutic and can help us tackle today’s stresses.
“One of the greatest joys of being a knitter is passing on those skills to other people,” said Debra Neville. “We’ve had people join us with absolutely no experience and before the end of the workshop, they were knitting away.”
Check out A Stiching Witch Facebook page and get registered for various workshops.
IF YOU GO
A Stiching Witch is located at 2915 Commercial Way, Spring Hill,
Monday to Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.