Fiber Chicks is hidden in a courtyard in Old Town between a coffee shop and an art gallery. It’s easy to miss. But once you’re inside, miles of yarn become a blank slate for knitting, crocheting and felting. Fibers from all over the world and a mix of crafters and tourists exploring Old Town are brought together by the common thread of fiber arts, with owner Lesley Miller serving as hostess and tour guide.
Miller is knowledgeable and friendly, and she’ll help you select a pattern and source yarn for any project, from a simple one-skein hat to a cabled sweater. She prides herself on the abundance of samples intended to help crafters visualize how a final project might turn out. On select Tuesday nights, Miller hosts the “easy peasy” series of quick and easy projects. Instructions are free with a yarn purchase, or they’re $5 if you BYOY (bring your own yarn). Upcoming classes include “easy peasy gift ideas” on Nov. 22, “easy peasy shawls” on Dec. 6 and “easy peasy hats” on Dec. 20.
If knitting and crocheting is an obsession, Fiber Chicks is a go-to spot for bamboo needles and luxury yarns like Tahki, Noro and Araucania. Because, let's face it, every once in a while you just need to buy some psychedelic Japanese sock yarn.
Since the holidays are all about giving, Fiber Chicks is doing its part by giving back. From now until the first of the year, the store will be collecting crafted hats, scarves, shawls and throws (anything you can craft, really) for a donation drive for breast cancer survivors, and the store will be donating 25 percent from every skein of pink yarn sold.
The store has also been nurturing a relationship with the Tapetes de Lana program based in Mora. It teaches weaving and spinning as an empowering option for women in low-income, rural communities. Fiber Chicks sells the gorgeous hand-dyed yarns made by Tapetes de Lana, as well as many other local, natural yarns cultivated in the East Mountains.
All year round, the shop is a cozy nest for creativity, with an ongoing stitching circle that convenes every Sunday. Crafters can order a latte from the coffee shop next door and pick up new techniques and tips from other stitchers. If you're not into the group thing, or if you need a little more instruction before showing off your skills in public, Miller is also available for private lessons for $15 an hour.
I have to admit, sewing terrifies me. For every ounce of joy I feel in the yarn store, there’s a pound of dread in the fabric store. But this new shop is changing my mindset.
Opened in early November, Stitchology is a cheery sewing center with a shabby-chic twist. Fabrics are casually displayed in an antique steamer trunk. Vintage sewing machines line the shelves. I could imagine sinking into the velvet settee and stitching together something fabulous from the list of holiday classes advertised on the chalkboard.
Owner and North Valley native Melisa Hart has been sewing since the age of 5. With a degree in fashion and a sewing résumé a mile long, she's taught at every shop in town and had her own bridal business for several years. She confesses her passion is teaching, and the class offerings at Stitchology prove it.
There are holiday classes for all ages and skill levels. A “mommy-and-me” Christmas stocking class is for kids ages 6 and older and their parents, while teens can learn to make ties for dad or grandpa. A sewing basics class shows youths how to make PJ bottoms, read a pattern and construct a waistband.
Lessons geared toward adults include an “easy retro apron” tutorial. Two classes are being offered Nov. 17 and Nov. 23, just in time for your (or your favorite host’s) Thanksgiving baking projects. A 10 percent discount is applied to supplies when you sign up for the $44 class.
Hart encourages students to bring their own sewing machines, if they have them, so they can get acquainted with the machine they’ll be working on at home. She’s also eager to help people in a bind sort out their sundry sewing issues, and she’ll take on small groups and tailor classes to their needs. She works with 4-H participants and welcomes scout troops or groups of three or more (kids or adults) to contact her about putting together a custom class.