Janice & Karen Moss Carry on a worthy tradition with their Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe In Ellijay
by Jodi Williams
Family heirlooms take many shapes and forms. Most have a story behind them—grandma’s wedding ring, your mother’s rocking chair, or that knitted baby blanket that held four generations. For six years, sisters Janice and Karen Moss have been in the business of keeping the art of heirlooms alive at Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe in Ellijay.
The sister’s eyes light up just talking about their craft. It makes sense that something as personal as soft threads for a loved one’s gift would be sold by a pair of women with a genuine love for the people who are giving and receiving these unique creations. They’ll be the first to tell you that creating something by hand is truly a craft of the heart. In keeping with that spirit, the sisters even offer lessons for all stages of yarn artists—both knitting and crocheting.
Janice and Karen have been crafting with yarn for a combined total of more than 80 years. They still have outside jobs (Karen is a nurse and Janice is a property manager in Atlanta), but always return to their haven at Strings & Stitches. Interestingly, each sister found her artistic passion with yarn in her own way. Karen was taught to knit by her mother, and Janice learned from a Biology teacher. The more they learned how to create new things, the more they wanted to try the next challenge.
As they shared their handmade creations, either as gifts or commissioned work done for others, they often found it difficult to locate a variety of good quality yarn. Gradually, the dream of their own store led the Moss sisters to design and create the largest yarn shop in the Northwest Georgia area—complete with their own brand of relaxed atmosphere. The recent explosion in the industry with novelty yarns and innovative patterns has led the sisters to explore their own online website. They are currently working on an online marketplace for out of state customers to purchase threads, needles and books. The website, which should be online by spring, will be as comprehensive as their store.
There are several reasons knitting or crocheting is growing in popularity. For some it’s therapeutic. Others do it to relax. Some want the challenge. “But it can be frustrating, if you’re not careful,” Karen smiles. “That’s what we want to help our customers avoid.” She also feels that needle craft can help a person meet other people and make new friendships. “A friend of ours moved to a new town. She joined a church, but still found it hard to get to know people. Then she began to take her knitting with her wherever she went and found a local yarn store. As she worked on her projects it opened up conversations with others around her helping her to make many new friends.”
Some people choose knitting and crocheting as an expression of their own art. According to Karen, a hank of yarn by itself is nothing but a pretty piece of fiber, but in the hands of a knitter it has great potential. The fibers can be decorative like a handbag or made into a blanket that comforts someone who is sick. Karen says what is most rewarding to her about something she knits is keeping the recipient in mind as she works. “I’ve made sweaters, booties or blankets for baby gifts. It gives me a chance to care about and pray for that child even before they are born. I think many other people share the same feelings.” Wearing or using a knitted creation is very special and unique, not like purchasing apparel in a store and finding other people wearing the same thing.
Because of their interest in needle crafts, the Moss sisters visit a lot of different yarn shops in several states to share product info, ideas and inspiration. “Our own store is an extension of who we are and our spiritual connection to other people,” notes Karen. The sisters have a “one-stop-shop” with inventory to cover all categories (sock yarn, wools for felting, cottons, natural fibers like silks and bamboo, novelty, etc.). Even better is the warm, inviting setting at Strings & Stitches with tables available for customers to come and work on projects, share ideas or ask questions while being able to relax and socialize.
Knitting ideas are never a problem at the Moss sisters’ store. On display, are the traditional afghans, sweaters and scarves. But there are also unique capes, collars, belts, purses, house shoes and much more. “A friend of ours in Nashville has developed a lot of exclusive patterns for different projects and we have helped her to refine and market these,” Karen says. “We have a lot of pattern support and we are building a complete library of instruction books in addition to offering buttons, needles and other accessories necessary to do projects.”
Strings & Stitches offers day, evening and Saturday classes. Both sisters agree that teaching helps encourage the art of needlework. They work with their customers’ schedules and provide instruction on different levels of skill. As another way of listening to customer needs, class projects change on a monthly basis and include seasonal items.
The Moss sisters sincerely believe that their yarn shop is more than just a business. Their hope is that it provides many opportunities for them to make new friends and build wonderful relationships with their customers. The store is a haven for those who are stressed out. It’s a place to sit and relax, a place to create something beautiful and a place to hone a skill that will last a lifetime.
Six years is quite a feat in this economy, but their successful anniversary has everything to do with the women who own the business. Strings and Stitches is celebrating their six-year anniversary with a fabulous sale that will be in full swing from February 1st through the 11th. There will be a great selection of savings on yarn, books and patterns, collections at 20%, 30% and 40% off, plus a selection of books will be 25 – 40% off. Come on in and enjoy the fun and savings!
, call 706. 698. KNIT  or visit their website at stringsandstitches.com.