Craftworks owner and avid knitter Ande Lockwood
By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Ande Lockwood was first taught how to knit by a college friend and has never stopped creating and surrounding herself with yarn.
Lockwood is the current owner of Craftworks in Northborough, which is a yarn and fiber shop and artisan cooperative. The original store opened in 1979 and has since expanded in a new location to include the yarn shop.
In addition to knitting, Lockwood’s artisan background includes sewing, scrapbooking, jelly making and quilting. She joined the co-op in the late 1980s and became owner in 2012.
The transition to owner has had its challenges for Lockwood but she described them as typical for small business owners. She also acknowledged that she and her husband are in the stage of their lives where their kids are grown leaving her time and energy to put into the business.
“As a co-op all the jobs were divided amongst the membership,” said Lockwood. “As an owner they all become my responsibility – scheduling and all the financials. I have help with display but all the rest lies squarely on my shoulders.”
Although her focus is to run the business, her interest in textiles and learning continue.
“There’s always a new technique to learn or new toys to use,” said Lockwood.
An example is a square needle that is ergonomically designed to decrease stress and strain for knitters. Different needles are needed for different projects and used with specific types of yarns or lace to produce the desired end result.
Lockwood has an abundance of yarn knowledge to offer customers. In addition to color, yarn can be chosen by its feel, the type of project, its ability to be washed or dried, or how it will keep its shape. Craftworks specializes in hand-dyed yarns from more than a dozen independent dyers and spinners.
“There are so many different yarns,” she said. “The choices are endless.”
A variety of technique classes are held at the store including knitting, crocheting, rug hooking and weaving. Classes have a rolling start which offers flexibility for students.
Lockwood feels that age 9 is a good starting point to take a knitting class and suggests to beginners to start with a scarf, to be able to see a finished project at the end of a four-week class.
She personally skipped the scarf stage and continues to be innovative with her patterns. Once the knitting basics are learned, there are many combos of those stitches that can create something new.
“Knitting can be very meditative and peaceful,” Lockwood said. “Knitting is very tactile. Some people come to the store at the end of a stressful day to touch the yarn.”
She also notices fluctuations in the popularity of crafts such as knitting.
“Anytime the economy is shaky people go back to educating themselves to be more marketable or they go back to doing things at home where they have a feeling of control and satisfaction,” said Lockwood.
Craftworks also sells American-made, handcrafted, juried products created by 100 artisans. A dozen of these artisans work at the store so customers can meet them and discuss their talents.
“I enjoy helping customers find just the right gift for that special occasion, introducing new talent and, in the yarn shop, watching folks learn a new skill or find the perfect project,” Lockwood noted.
Lockwood is never too far removed from her role as Craftworks owner. She attends gift shows, art/fiber festivals, and is always on the lookout for gift and craft shops in her travels.
Craftworks is located at 243 W. Main St. in Northborough. Store and class information can be found at www.craftworkscoop.com.