Milford merchant maintains family tradition By Allison Collins Contributing Writer Jan 27, 2017
For Jeanetta Osterhoudt, owner of the newly relocated Sybil’s Yarn Shop in Milford, her Jan. 21 grand opening marked the continuation of more than four decades of family tradition.
Osterhoudt explained that her mother, Sybil Osterhoudt, the store’s previous owner, started the yarn shop 44 years ago “to be able to do something from home and raise her kids.”
Growing up as she did, Osterhoudt said, “We learned to knit at a young age and I just really fell in love with it when I was 13. Textile arts are so interesting and knitting is just a passion of mine.”
Osterhoudt says she first thought of turning passion into profession two years ago.
“I got this inkling that my mom was getting older," Osterhoudt said, "so I asked her if she would be OK with me taking over.”
While Osterhoudt shared that, initially, her mother retained sole ownership, she nevertheless spent the intervening years becoming increasingly involved in the shop. Now, Osterhoudt is at the (spinning) wheel and her first big change was moving Sybil’s out of Westville and onto 65 South Main St. in Milford.
“The shop my mom had was this little tiny place with a charm of its own,” said Osterhoudt. “It was stocked to the roof with yarn and had so much product in that little space, but we didn’t have any room to visit and have a cup of coffee or have classes or just sit and knit.”
In the new digs, customers will find all sorts of yarn and needles. “We run the gamut from acrylic, easy-to-wash right up through wool blends, super-wash wools and beautiful alpaca and merino [yarns],” said Osterhoudt. Sybil’s also stocks yarn of various sizes and sources, though Osterhoudt mentioned that she would like to hone in on “people doing their own things” and increase her hand-dyed, locally spun supply. Osterhoudt noted that many will remember her new downtown location as the town’s longtime hardware store, operational from about 1880 to 1988.
“I remember going there as a kid,” remarked Osterhoudt. “It’s such a great space. It smells good, has beautiful windows with old glass [and] is an awesome space. The man who worked on it … did a really good job of keeping its charm.”
Calling the grand opening “a phenomenal day,” Osterhoudt estimated having about 65 visitors. To that Osterhoudt added, “What was really heartwarming was all the Milford people who came in; not all of them are knitters, they were just coming in to see what was new and different.”
Though Osterhoudt said she did meet plenty of knitters, weavers, spinners and all-around fiber art enthusiasts at the opening celebration.
“People are excited to come in … everyone seems really involved and positive about it and I think we’ll have some success teaching some new skills and relearning old skills.”
While the schedule is still in flux, Osterhoudt said she hopes to offer an array of classes. She is even in talks with local businesses about partnering to offer off-site instruction.
Osterhoudt’s in-house classes will likely start in mid-February. “We’d also like for people to give us their suggestions,” said Osterhoudt, who added that she is eager to offer as wide a variety of classes as possible. For certain, Osterhoudt will host Saturday morning “knit-ins” beginning immediately. “I want to make this place somewhere where someone can come down to the shop, have some tea or a cup of coffee, maybe grab a sub from the corner store or dine in at the Elm Inn and just sit and learn something new. It’d be great to bring people into Milford [because] there are some really great little finds [here].” For store hours and class schedules, find Sybil’s Yarn Shop on Facebook or, to shop online, visit www.sybilsyarnshop.com