Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fibre Festivals: Knotty by Nature Fibre Arts

I think, what I love most about fibre festivals is that it provides the opportunity to get to know businesses and people who live locally and share the same enthusiasm for yarn that you do.

In this day and age, the need to support local artisans and farms is more important than ever. You would be amazed to learn just how far commercial yarns travel before they reach your needles. The amount of fuel and the amount of money required to make a finished skein of yarn on a commercial scale is, well... you've been yarn shopping right? Then you know just how expensive it can be. By using even a fraction of your yarn budget on local products you not only help the environment by cutting down on transportation, you help your community. And isn't that what yarn is all about? Community.

I love keeping track of local companies that support local communities and have (more or less) secretly been keeping an eye on a couple who have taken this ideal to heart and are in the process of starting a business that focuses primarily on local fibre arts (from fleece to finished product and everything in between). Stephanie (ravelry link) has kindly granted me an interview which I would like to share with you all.

An interview with
Knotty by Nature Fibre Arts

Thank you for doing this little interview. I understand you have an exciting project on the go, can you tell us more about it?

My name is Stephanie and I grew up in Victoria, although my roots are Inuvialuit (Inuit) and Australian. My fiancĂ© Ryan is from London, Ontario. After last years’ Saltspring Fibre Festival, Ryan said he would be interested in opening a fibre arts store with me. Something I had thought of doing but found the task too daunting on my own. For the past year we have been developing a business plan, speaking to banks, and local fibre artists, business people, friends and family. From there we have decided to go in the direction of focusing on supporting the local fibre artisans, and farms. There are 75,000 sheep in BC, over 30,000 of these sheep are raised on here Vancouver Island. At Knotty by Nature, we feel it is crucial to support our local wool industry, to this end we have spent the better part of the spring sourcing and buying fleece from local farms. We will cater to all textile artisans, including First Nations, local designers, weavers spinners, felters and knitters. As well, we will provide a venue, workshop space and social scene for these artisans to sell their creations. Our plan is for the store to be open year-round, in Victoria (location still to be determined) selling textile tools and supplies, and consignments made by local artisans. Although we plan to still carry other items that are not locally based, but will try to support locally whenever possible!

How did you come up with this idea?

I have found knitting to be a gateway craft into the fibre arts world, leading to weaving, felting and then spinning. We would have to drive to Duncan/Nanaimo or wait until a fibre festival/event was happening nearby to buy spinning and felting supplies. It seemed like an opportunity and something we were both really excited to get into it even more!

How long have you two been interested in fibre arts?

I have been in the fibre arts for about 9 years now. Ryan has been weaving and spinning for more than two years.

What was the first craft that introduced you to the wonderful world of fibre arts?

I was first introduced into the fibre arts world by a pair of socks that my son’s great aunt knit while she was blind. I figured if she could do that, then I must be able to learn. My first project was a pair of socks. The first project I got someone to knit was also a pair of socks. I have since realized that this is not a typical good project. It didn’t help that the socks were for her husband who is over six feet tall and had huge feet. She didn’t knit them for long until another friend got her back into knitting, starting this time with a scarf!

I introduced Ryan into the fibre arts world, with an Ashford knitters loom. From there he has also had a hand at knitting, but really took onto spinning. We have both been to Terri Bibby’s Saori weaving workshop and studio on Saltspring Island, where we learned a zen-way of weaving. Basically you can do no wrong, along with some other great philosophies. We have applied this philosophy to spinning and now make some really great spun wool for weaving!

What type of goodies are you going to have in your shop?

Supplies for weaving, spinning, felting, knitting, crocheting, etc… Finished fibre products by local artisans.
Lots of wool!

  • on cones, in skeins, and by the meter
  • rovings -In various forms, from the raw (but skirted) fleece, to local cleaned and carded wool -A fibre club for spinners
  • white wool for dyeing
  • handspun wool, etc… New and used fibre arts books Dyes Knitters loom rentals Etc… I can go on and on! But I think you get the idea.

This sounds exciting, when are you planning on opening?

We are hoping to open late summer, we are still working on getting a business loan and are hoping the outcome of the festival will help inform our business plan and make the story more compelling for someone to lend us money.

I understand you will be at the Vitoria Fibre Festival for the Sunday Knit-Out and vendor market, what exciting stuff can we expect from you there?

We are going to be selling local wool, some raw fleece (skirted= removal of poopy yarn), a little bit of washed and carded. As well, my girlfriend has made a few beautiful things like little girl princess capelets, felted purses and dyed wool. We will have some felting kits, a couple of dyeing kits, and we have been dyeing wool rovings in some beautiful colors. We will also be selling a weaver’s pallet that Ryan invented for weavers, which is pretty cool. We will also be selling Ashford products, like looms, spinning wheels, etc. We are pretty lucky that the Ashford wholesaler lives in Victoria, and they are a super great family. We are also going to bring our Saori and knitter loom for people to try out.

Last of all, how can people get in touch with you if they would like to learn more?

You can email us at

Thank you again for your time. I look forward to shopping from you.

Thanks! We really appreciate your support!


Josiane said...

Oh, Knotty by Nature sounds great! I'm looking forward to reading more about it, and hoping that they'll have a website for those of us who are a bit far from Victoria but who like to encourage people who encourage local people themselves. Best of luck to Stephanie and Ryan, and please keep us updated!

Miss Scarlett said...

Perfect! This matches my food goal - I love it.
Our work fundraiser was postponed (out of our hands) so I am going to try and get to the festival this weekend...
Vendors like this would be truly awesome to see/meet.

TinkingBell said...

Oh fabulous - you're so lucky to have the friendship and support of a fibre community (spinners, weavers, dyers, knitters and all) I have to get most of mine from the internet - and while it's fun it's really not the SAME!

saoriweaver said...

Great to read the interview! Thanks for posting it.

I'm very excited about the plans that Stephanie & Ryan have and love the idea of supporting the local community.

It was great to talk with them and share Saori weaving with them when they visited my studio.

See you at the Fibre Festival - and all the best!

Happy Weaving,

Karen said...

Thank you Raven for this 'background' interview!