Bye-bye, PA, and hello OH! Pin #6 has dropped into the Dayton area at 1350A North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek, where you’ll find Fiberworks!
FF&WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?
FW: You may be sorry you asked! My current shop took a long time coming to be. I had planned to spend my life teaching French in a small college somewhere, but a 3-day workshop in spinning and natural dyeing led me down a different path. When we moved to Albuquerque the following year, I connected with Las Arañas Spinners and Weavers, and I joined a cooperative of painters, potters, silversmiths, and weavers who operated a shop in Santa Fé. After finding that my handspun yarns were a big success, I helped form Textile Crafts Cooperative, a shop in Albuquerque’s Old Town. When we moved to Omaha, it seemed natural to find a group of fiber artists, stained glass artists, painters, potters, and woodworkers and open Twenty Talents Gallery to sell our work. I also had a home studio where I was spinning, teaching, and selling spinning wheels, fibers, and related books and equipment.
When we moved to the Dayton area five years later, we purposely bought a house that had a large room with direct access from the outside that could serve as a studio/shop. I continued selling my handspun yarn at arts festivals and to knitting shops around the country, and began to carry more brands of carding and spinning equipment, dyes, and wooden knitting needles and crochet hooks. It was wonderful to be able to be home with my children when they were young, but I began daydreaming about having a “real store”.
One Sunday when I was 59, in an adult ed. session, I heard a psychologist speak about “following your dreams”. On my way home, I passed a storefront with a “FOR RENT” sign in the window, stopped, wrote down the phone number, and called the next day. When I discovered that I could afford the rent and no lease was required, I was in seventh heaven. I figured I would turn 60 whether I took a chance or not.
It was fun to create a cozy space where knitters could congregate and enjoy “kindred spirits”, especially on Tuesday and Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights for Knit ‘N’ Knibble. It quickly became obvious that stocking only my handspun yarns in addition to spinning supplies was not feasible, so I began meeting with yarn reps and succumbing to the charms of gorgeous yarns.
After 4 years at that location when we couldn’t possibly have stuffed in another skein of yarn, the city decided to widen the street in front of the shop, taking away our entire parking lot. Our new location, at the crossroads of the two major streets in Beavercreek, is twice the size (but four times the rent) and required a two-year lease (which was beyond scary). Now, almost seven years later, we have expanded into the shop next door, which we have devoted primarily to spinning, dyeing, and felting supplies. Our main room is brimming with yarns from Araucania, Cascade, Crystal Palace, Debbie Bliss, Ella Rae, Hi-Koo, Jojoland, Juniper Moon Farm, Louisa Harding, Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Misti, Noro, Opal, Queensland, Schoppel Wolle, Sirdar, Universal, and Wonderland, as well as notions, books, patterns, and needles galore. We’ve recently added several styles of Fair Trade African Market Baskets-perfect for transporting every size project.
FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?
FW: We are open 7 days a week and try to provide a comfortable home away from home with a wide variety of everything a knitter, crocheter, spinner, or felter could want. Deb K., who is here every weekday, provides expert help with every aspect of knitting and crochet, and has a soft spot in her heart for the well-behaved pets who sometimes visit our shop. Her fingers are never still, and she knits most of the shop models. Arlene loves to addict willing victims to spinning, using a variety of spindles and wheels, aided by the lure of luscious hand-dyed fibers (from Frabjous Fibers, of course).
FF&WY: What do you love about your town?
FW: Being close to I-75 and I-70, we receive many visitors travelling both north-south and east-west. Many stop here in the Dayton area to visit sites important to aviation history. Some come because it is the home of Esther Price candy. Our shop is located between two large malls, the Mall at Fairfield Commons, and the Greene, both with many upscale stores and boutiques, and many dining options. One of the best things about the Greater Dayton area is its support of fibers. If you visit the websites of the Dayton Knitting Guild, the Miami Valley Knitting Guild, the Greater Dayton Crochet Guild, and the Weavers Guild of Miami Valley, you will find meetings, workshops, meet-ups, and knit-ins almost every day of the week. There are no fewer than seven yarn shops in the area, and all are thriving. If you come on the third weekend in September, you can add to your stash at A Wool Gathering, a large (but still manageable) fiber festival north of Yellow Springs.
FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs?
FW: We have “Knit Knite” on the 4th Friday of the month (or a week earlier, if too close to a holiday) with a pot luck dinner starting around 6:30, and lasting until the last person leaves. A “Lunch Bunch” come regularly on Thursdays to knit, chat, and order lunch. Sunday afternoons are also a popular time for knitters to gather here.
FF&WY: What’s your best “Yarn Emergency” story?
FW: Since I know what it’s like to have broken a needle or run out of yarn when the LYS is closed, I have my cell phone number listed on the front door under “In Case of Yarn Emergency,” and it’s on the answering machine’s message as well. I live only 7 minutes from the shop, and am happy to help out in emergencies. One year during the first week in January when we close to count everything in the shop, I got a call from a woman who was traveling through the area, had run out of yarn for a shawl she was knitting, and saw on the yarn company’s website that we carried that yarn. She was almost in tears when she arrived and discovered that we were closed for inventory, but ecstatic when I opened the door and she found that we even had the same dye lot.
And THIS (omg, Arlene just sent me this message to add to best-ever yarn emergency, and it’s pretty good): We just had an “interesting” yarn emergency. My son and I were at the shop tonight after closing at 5 to try to organize and price a large shipment of needles seemingly packed by gorillas, when we received an urgent phone call to see if we were open. I said ” come on down” since we would be there for quite a while longer. It turned out to be a very pregnant customer who was already three centimeters dilated and wanted to finish a beautiful shawl. With only five rows to go, she had run out of Malabrigo sock yarn. Needless to say, I wound that skein into a ball in record time!
FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?
FW: The Eyelet Shawl pattern has been very popular in the Cheshire Cat mini-skeins and the Eyelet Cowl pattern in March Hare. We all know that the most popular colors are the ones used in the model garments. 😀
FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand?
FW: That would be like having to name my favorite child! My favorite brand is always one that uses high-quality natural fibers and has a marvelously “squishy” feel. (That sounds suspiciously like Wonderland Yarn, doesn’t it?)
FF&WY: We love hilarious, heartbreaking or hilarious AND heartbreaking knitting stories. Entertain us!
FW: Sorry, this knitting story is only heartbreaking…..One of our customers went to a great deal of effort and expense to knit a beautiful afghan for her brother and sister-in-law. When she went to visit, she was somewhat upset not to see it in the living room or family room. The real blow came when she found that it was being used as their dog’s bed!!
Wow, thank you so much Arlene! So far, your yarn emergency stories take the cake. And readers, you all know what to do when you’re in the Dayton area: visit Fiberworks!
Next week, we’ll be visiting Yarn It and Haberdashery in Grandview Heights. Hope to see you there!