.cat-links { display: none !important; }

Quite a yarn

Couple foregoes academic careers to run Plainfield’s Nomad Yarns.

By Mark Ambrogi
A funny thing happened to Erica Kempf Broughton on the way to her archaeology doctorate at the University of York in England.
She decided a career in academics wasn’t her thing.
“I decided that was not what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Erica said. “Seeing other people in the field and knowing what their lives were like, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. You have to apply for grants all the time. It wasn’t what I wanted to be.”
So the 2003 Avon High School graduate returned home to open Nomad Yarns at 218 E. Main St. in Plainfield in July 2010.
Erica decided on the Nomad name because of her many travels after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
“Then I was in Florida and California and lived in England and did traveling around Europe when I was there,” Erica said. “The thing most surprising to my parents is that I moved back to a place three miles from where I grew up. I bought the house without seeing it (in person) when I was in England and got possession two days after I moved back.”
A year-and-a-half after opening the store, Dave Broughton decided to leave England to join her. The two married in 2012. Erica and Dave met in the archeology department at the University of York.
Erica said her parents were supportive of her opening the store and didn’t really listen if anyone else was skeptical of it.
“I didn’t ask anybody for permission, I thought I’ll give this a try and see,” Erica said. “I did my research. I saw other yarn stores exist so they can’t be that bad of an idea. I went to a store in the UK and saw the ins and outs.”
One key decision was buying the store’s building instead of renting. They lived in the building, too, for three years.
“So that helped there wasn’t an extra mortgage and utility payment,” Erica said. “I listened to a lot of podcasts about knitting and always have so I knew a lot about it. I knew if it didn’t work I could sell the building or rent it to someone else.”
The building that houses the yard shop was built in 1890. Their home was built in 1870. Erica guided the renovation of both places.
Erica said it probably has surprised a few people that her business succeeded.
“We have a supportive knitting community and a lot of super loyal customers,” she said.
The couple, who are able to walk to work from their nearby house, as they needed more space since they planned to start a family. The couple has an 18-month-old daughter, Poppy, and a second child is due in October.
“The business expanded into our space, one of the rooms upstairs became an office,” Dave said.
The couple runs the store by themselves, with the exception of Tuesdays when Erica’s mother, Lynn Kempf, comes in so they can have two days off in a row. The shop is closed Mondays.
Dave, who also has a business (Perpetual Painting) painting miniatures, such as toys or models, primarily focuses on the dyed yarns. He has his master’s in materials archaeology (ancient crafts) from the University of Sheffield. Erica earned her master’s in anthropology at the University of Sheffield but they didn’t meet until both were at York.
“Dave helps mostly with the technology stuff,” Erica said. “For the first year-and-a-half, it was just me doing everything, I was the only one who worked here.”
The store has year-round classes but the numbers are bigger when the weather turns cooler.
“We are the only specialty yarn store on the west side of the Indianapolis area,” Dave said. “There is one up in Zionsville, which is the closest. There was one in Martinsville but it closed.”
The store has numerous varieties in color and thickness of yarns. Erica said Nomad Yarns typically holds two classes a week and also has a podcast on their website (nomadyarnshop.com).
“My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was eight,” Erica said. “I’m not sure she knew how to crochet. I think she owned a crochet hook and wanted me to be quiet. I crocheted badly for 10 years. I was working a random job in Florida and had bad hours and didn’t know anyone near me. So I took a knitting class. I  always heard crocheting was easier, but knitting clicked a lot better for me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *