September 2005: Getting Crafty in Northern California! September 1, 2005

From Arcata and Eureka to the Bay Area and Sacramento, it’s easy to find great craft supplies, fabric, beads and recycled supplies, as well as cool places to buy and sell your handmade stuff. Here are some stores, museums, collectives, and classes I especially like.

Crafty Community

There are Stitch n Bitch chapters all over Northern California—from Humboldt County to Sacramento. The Bay Area alone has seven: Chicks With Sticks, Fingers of Fury (East Bay), SnB Berkeley, North Bay SnB, Peninsula Knitters, SnB Redwood City, and SnB Walnut Creek.

Though San Francisco Church of Craft is not meeting regularly these days, you can sign up for the monthly e-mail list to hear about other cool crafty events.

Knitting and Crocheting Supplies

In Eureka, check out Boll Weaver (2748 E Street, 707-443-8145) for a gorgeous selection of yarns as well as classes. Handmade Memories (1969 Central Ave, McKinleyville) offers yarn as well as paper arts and scrapbooking supplies.

Further south, the Bay Area is overrun with yarn shops! Check out
ImaginKnit (3897 18th St., 415-621-6642) for a huge range of yarns and classes, plus a listing of charities to knit for. Artfibers (124 Sutter St., 2nd floor, 415-956-6319) sells only its own brand of fibers and yarns, and offers free custom patterns when you purchase the yarn for a project. Knit away in their lounge, or just peruse samples of everything they carry in the shop.

Urban Knitting Studio (320 Fell St., 415-552-5333) in Hayes Valley hosts Knit and Wine evenings on the last Thursday of each month. In the East Bay, Article Pract (5010 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, 510-595-PURL) carries local handmade goods as well as yarns, and has fun knitting meet-ups on the back patio. The owners’ new book, Viva Poncho, includes 20 modern patterns.

On the Peninsula, Uncommon Threads (293 State St., Los Altos, 650-941-1815) is one of the friendliest yarn stores around, with selections in every price range. They even offer a punch-card program, giving you $10 off every $100 spent in the shop. Also check out Creative Hands (1670 El Camino Real, San Carlos, 650-591-0588).

In Sacramento, Rumplestiltskin (1021 R St., 916-442-9225) is a favorite, and Frog Pond Knits (8215 Auburn Blvd, suite C, 916-728-5648) just opened. And at Urban Knits community center (2648 33rd St., 916-308-8426), Veronica Perez teaches neighborhood children to knit for free! Adults are welcome too—come by for coffee and a lesson in macramé, knitting or crochet.

Beads, Fabric and Craft Supplies

In Arcata, Fabric Temptation (942 G St.) has gorgeous, but expensive, fabrics. Try Heart Bead (830 G St., Arcata), the Bead Shoppe (418 3rd St, Eureka) and Talisman (214 F St., Eureka) for unique and interesting beads and jewelry supplies—each store carries a different mix of products, and they all refer customers back and forth!

For paper arts supplies like stamps, stickers, and inks, stop by Scrappers Edge (509 H St., Eureka, 707-445-9686). All Under Heaven (753 Eighth St., Arcata) carries Asian art pieces and supplies as well as Goccos and printmaking gear. The Ink People (411 12th St., Eureka) is a community-based arts and cultural center offering great classes. Fire Arts Center (520 S. G St., Arcata) has gallery shows and classes, too.

In the Bay Area, the Greater San Francisco Area Costumers Guild has put together an amazing resource listing tons of bead shops, craft stores, and fabric and sewing supply stores, plus sources for specialty items like ribbon and buttons. They even offer reviews of each shop!

My three favorite fabric stores are Stone Mountain and Daughters (2518 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, 510-845-6106), Mendels Far-Out Fabrics (1556 Haight St, San Francisco, 415-621-1287), and Britex Fabrics (146 Geary St., San Francisco, 415-392-2910).

General Bead (637 Minna St, San Francisco, 415-621-8187) and
Beadissimo (1051 Valencia St, San Francisco, 415-282-BEAD) are both great bead stores. The Bead Shop (158 University Ave, Palo Alto, 650-328-5291) offers a 20% discount on any merchandise when you take one of their classes, too.

SCRAP (aka Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts, 801 Toland St., San Francisco, 415-647-1746) and East Bay Depot (6713 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 510-547-6470) are incredible sources for all things secondhand and crafty! And for soap- and candle-making supplies, stop by Juniper Tree (2416 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, 510-647-3697).

In Sacramento, The Soap Saloon (4500-C Beloit Drive, 916-334-4894) offers great classes and will even make you a custom soap mold!

Art and Craft

San Francisco is the coolest city in the world—it has not one but two craft museums. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art recently moved to join SFMOMA and the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts in a “contemporary arts Mecca” in the SOMA neighborhood.

The year-old San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design “celebrates and promotes the art of contemporary craft and design by developing and hosting innovative exhibitions, and creating a vital program of education and community outreach.” Look for shows like “Beyond the Pour: Pairing Art and the Wine Label.”

In Oakland, California College of the Arts offers undergraduate degrees in jewelry/metal arts, textiles, sculpture, and lots of other crafty disciplines. The Craft Center at UC-Davis has amazing non-credit classes in screenprinting, ceramics, jewelry, textiles, and just about everything else you’d want to learn. They even offer passes for non-students to use their 13 different studios whenever classes aren’t in session—perfect if you already know how to weld, but just need a place to do it.

Rock Paper Scissors Collective in Oakland “provides a community-based space for the exhibition, retail and practice of work by local/independent artists, musicians, crafters and writers.” Their classes cover everything from quilting to film manipulation, and they exhibit rotating art and craft shows in their gallery.

Learn how to make yourself anything from a corset to a custom dress form at Stitch Lounge (182 Gough, San Francisco, 415-431-3SEW). They also sell indie designers’ work in their darling boutique, and have sewing machines and sergers available by the hour in their fabulous lounge. Right around the corner, RAG (541 Octavia St, San Francisco, 415-621-7718), aka Residents Apparel Gallery, shows over 40 local designers’ clothing and accessories.

Want to buy or sell cool handmade stuff? You can also try Feria Urbana, a unique urban craft fair usually held twice a month. And in Sacto, Sellout Buyout is a “four-times-a-year combined art show, trade show, and open market with local artists and designers’ all-utilitarian artwork for sale.”

A big thank-you to the Northern California craftistas for all their help and suggestions!

Susan Beal is a jewelry designer-writer-craftista who divides her time between Los Angeles and Portland. Check out more of her how-tos and handmade stuff at susanstars.com and PDX Super Crafty.com.

August 2005: Getting Crafty in Southern California! August 1, 2005

Southern California may be better known for its beaches, star sightings, and relentlessly perfect weather, but there are tons of crafty resources here too – great shops, classes, museums, stitch n bitch meetups, and bazaars galore. I’ve listed some of my favorite spots below!

Crafty Community

Bring your knitting, crochet, tatting, beading, quilting, embroidery, papercraft, scrapbooking, darning, be-dazzling, pot-holder making, needlepoint, drop spinning, lace making, towel mending, and any other craft you’re working on to Los Angeles Church of Craft meetings! The group meets monthly, usually on Sunday afternoons, at the Coffee Pot in Eagle Rock. Join their mailing list for updates.

Stitch n Bitch Los Angeles meets every Tuesday at the Talking Stick Lounge (1630 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, 310-450-6052) for an open knitting and crochet night. The SnB LA yahoo group also lists meetings and events all over the L.A. area, including Hollywood, Glendale, and the Valley.

SnB Long Beach meets every Wednesday at the Viento y Agua Gallery (4007 E. 4th St.). Further south, SnB San Diego meets every Monday night at Influx (1948 Broadway in Golden Hill). A North County SnB chapter also meets on Tuesdays at the E Street Cafe (130 W. E Street, Encinitas, 760-230- 2038).

There are also SnB chapters in Orange County, Santa Barbara, and at UC-Irvine.

Knitting and Crocheting Supplies

Despite the delightfully warm weather, Southern California has no shortage of great (air-conditioned) yarn stores!

In the Valley, Stitch Cafe (12443 Magnolia Blvd, 818-980-1234) offers free tutoring plus more in-depth classes in crochet, spinning, and felting. They even serve sandwiches! La Knitterie Parisienne (12642 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, 818-766-1515) has floor-to-ceiling displays of yarn, plus buttons, magazines, patterns and accessories.

In addition to classes and trunk shows, Unwind (818 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, 818-840-0800) features cool extras like wireless internet and Camp Knit and Crochet (classes for kids 8-12). Bonus points if you recognize the shop from Six Feet Under–Ruth comes here to knit.

In Santa Monica, Stitches from the Heart (3306 Pico Blvd, 866-472-6903) is an amazing all-volunteer-run yarn shop. All the money raised goes to their charity organization, which donates knitted and crocheted items to preemie babies. Wildfiber (1453 E 14th St., 310-458-2748) offers unexpected classes in wearable art, incorporating freeform crochet and other techniques. Also check out Yarns Unlimited if you’re in the neighborhood (828 Pico Blvd #1, 310-395-3880).

On the west side of L.A., I love Knit Cafe (8441 Melrose Ave, 323-658-5648) – they are so friendly, and their yarn selection is really nice – lots of imports! Suss Design (7350 Beverly Blvd, 323-954-9650) sells unique house-designed yarns, patterns, and kits. The Knitters Studio (8118 W. 3rd St., 323-655-6487) offers swanky knitting parties as well as workshops and classes.

In Hollywood, check out Black Sheep Knittery (6324 Yucca St., 323-464-2253), and in Silver Lake, stop by Edna Hart Boutique and Knittery (2941 Rowena Ave, 323-661-4070) for super cute jewelry, handbags, and knitting supplies and classes on the east side.

In Orange County, Strands and Stitches (1516 PCH, Laguna Beach, 949-497-KNIT) offers free knitting and needlepoint workshops each week. Yarn Lady (24371 Avenida de la Carlota Suite M 1&2, Laguna Hills, 949-770-7809) has 50% off bag sales a few times a year! And Velona Yarn (5701-M Santa Ana Canyon Blvd, Anaheim Hills, 714-974-1570) has tons of yarn and basic supplies galore.

Beads, Fabric, and Craft Supplies

Downtown L.A. is an incredible source of jewelry-making and sewing supplies, but there are tons of cool stores all over Southern California.

Jewelry Source.com has a huge list of California bead stores in alphabetical order on their website. Bead Source LA has 6 brick-and-mortar locations as well as a huge online catalog.

The jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles is amazing. Just wander around the Hill and Olive streets area, especially near 7th Avenue. There are dozens of shops carrying jewelry-making supplies, beads, and display and packaging materials. I recommend taking the subway downtown to both the fashion and jewelry districts – parking is kind of a hassle.

The Bead Boutique (8313 W 3rd Street, 323-966-5880) hosts beginning to advanced jewelry-making classes, with 10% off any purchase the day you take a class. In Orange County, Beads Beads (949 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, 714-639-1611) has a great selection of cool stuff.

Filmbiz.com has very handy lists of bead, fabric, and notion stores and wardrobe and costume resources.

Here’s another giant listing of L.A. fabric stores online – most are downtown in the fashion district. Check out the few blocks around 9th Avenue, especially between Maple and San Julian streets. You’ll find dozens of fabric stores specializing in stretch, laces, buttons, trims, and everything in between, and many of them are dollar-a-yard shops.

The mother ship is indisputably Michael Levine (920 Maple Ave., 213-622-6259), which has an incredible selection of all things sewing-related. Check out their upholstery and home fabrics store across the street, too. West of downtown, F&S Fabrics (10624 W Pico Blvd, 310-441-2477) has three buildings of new and vintage fabrics!

Of course there are plenty of JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels locations all over the L.A. area, too. And there are two Pearl Paint stores: Los Angeles (1250 S. La Cienega Blvd., 310-854-4900) and Huntington Beach (7227 Edinger, 714-903-5100).

The Rose Bowl flea market is a secondhand shopping paradise–hundreds of vendors selling vintage and antique clothes, jewelry, furniture, and collectibles. Go early (before it gets hot) for the best finds, and stop by Felt Club afterwards! The Melrose flea market is smaller, but definitely worth a stop–it goes on every Sunday.

Art and Craft

The Craft and Folk Art Museum (5814 Wilshire Blvd., 323-937-4230) has rotating craft exhibitions and a remarkable gift shop. Admission is free on the first Wednesday of the month.

Machine Project (1220-D Alvarado St, 213-483-8761) exhibits shows like “Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane,” curated by The Institute for Figuring. Nearly 50 crocheted models that “initially appear to be colorful cozies for Christmas ornaments are actually precise 3-D diagrams of post-Euclidian, post Newtonian space” (LA Times). Wow.

Otis College of Art and Design (9045 Lincoln Blvd, 310-665-6800) offers non-credit craft classes like machine knitting, glass etching and jewelry design.

The Art Bar in the Santa Ana Artists Village (209 N. Broadway, 714-558-2445) offers hands-on classes and open studio hours. There are art openings and open studios on the first Saturday of every month in Santa Ana, too.

Felt Club is an amazing handmade sale on the second Sunday of every month at the Echo in Echo Park–complete with a tempting bake sale table and a DJ! In Santa Monica, look for the annual Contemporary Crafts Market. And Bazaar Bizarre is a great place to sell your own work, or buy cool handmade holiday presents.

Thanks so much to the crafty girls of L.A. and the O.C. for their fabulous suggestions!

Susan Beal is a crafty writer, editor and jewelry designer who divides her time between Portland and Los Angeles. Check out more of her how-tos and cool handmade stuff at susanstars.com and PDX Super Crafty.com.

July 2005: Getting Crafty in Portland! July 1, 2005

If we had to choose just one city in the world to be *the* crafty mecca, we would pick Portland, Oregon. Perhaps it’s the DIY ethos of its punk rock music scene bleeding over into the crafty arena — or maybe it’s just all those long rainy winters, but you can’t throw a skein of organic wool in this town without hitting a knitter in a handmade dress on her way to craft night at the local lounge. Long-time getcrafty contributor and all-around West Coast superstar Susan Beal shows you the ins and outs of this crafty city. — Jean Railla

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Crafty Community

Church of Craft has a very active and fun chapter in Portland led by Sister Diane, which meets at Rimsky-Korsakoffee House (707 SE 12th, 503-232-2640) one Sunday each month from 11:30-2:30. There’s a hands-on class at each meeting, or bring your own projects to work on over coffee and dessert.

The ever-fabulous vintage and handmade emporium Frock (2940 NE Alberta, 503-595-0379) partnered with Jen Neitzel of Knot Ugly for a new project, DIY Lounge. The stylish space in the back of the shop offers all-encompassing craft and DIY classes—everything from knit and crochet to jewelrymaking and even voice lessons! Keep an eye out for the Tacky Craft Classes and Iron Chef-style Tack-Off contests.

Right down the street, Retrospect (1532 NE Alberta, 503-284-9799) has cool recycled art and craft for sale. Stop by and use their sewing machine and other craft supplies…

The super wonderful Knittn Kitten (7530 NE Glisan, 503-255-3022) has amazing vintage and craft supplies and fabric at thrift-store prices. Across the street, Touchstone Coffeehouse (7631 NE Glisan, 503-262-7613) has a craft night every Monday.

Memoir PDX (3731 N Mississippi, 503-528-1000) is an adorable new shop with a craft night every Tuesday at 7 pm. And ACME (1305 SE 8th, 503-230-9020) has a craft night every Wednesday after 6 with DJs plus food and a full bar.

Seaplane (827 NW 23rd, 503-234-2409) sells gorgeous and inventive clothes and accessories by Portland and West Coast designers. The last Wednesday of each month is also an in-house fashion show.

Crafty Publications

Learn everything from letterpress to bookbinding and transfer printing at the IPRC (917 SW Oak #218, 503-827-0249). They also have a kick-ass zine library and resource room. Downstairs at 921 SW Oak, Reading Frenzy (503-274-1449) carries an array of zines and independent publications with an excellent selection of craft books.

And don’t forget to stop by the Orange Room of Powell’s Books (1005 W Burnside, 503-228-0540) to check out their craft book section too.

Art and Craft

Check out PORT for gallery and outsider reviews and listings and a well-edited guide to the best of the hundreds (thousands?) of art events going on every month in the Rose City. One of the founding contributors, Jennifer Armbrust, also runs a remarkable gallery and shop called motel (19 NW 5th, 503-222-6699) with rotating monthly art shows and gorgeous handmade pieces in the shop.

Contemporary Crafts Museum is one of my favorite places in the world. The museum shows international craft artists’ work in a stunning gallery space—everything from fiber and glass to wood and clay. Show openings, lectures, workshops, and classes for kids go on year-round.

Crafty Online

Two yahoo groups, PDX Stitch & Bitch and Stitch & Bitch Portland, list knitting and crochet-centric events and happenings around town.

The LiveJournal community Portland Craft is another resource to find out what’s going on in town or post your own event.

Crafty Business

Want to sell your handmade stuff, or shop for cool indie designs? Check out Crafty Wonderland on the second Sunday of the month at Doug Fir Lounge. Forty-plus crafters sell their work each month and there’s also a free make-your-own-craft table hosted by Sister Diane of Church of Craft and Jen Neitzel of DIY Lounge.

Twice a year, in summer and winter, is the one-of-a-kind Handmade Bazaar! The buy-sell-trade event has bands all day and amazing stuff for sale or swap.

Saturday Market has been going strong downtown since 1973, every weekend from March to December. Stop by to shop or apply to sell your own work.

For general advice on creative business, check out the website my craft collective put together, PDX Super Crafty. We compiled all the information we wish we’d had when we got started and added some fun DIY projects and interviews with some of our favorite crafters and artists.

Crafty Shopping

My favorite bead store is Dava Bead and Trade (1815 NE Broadway, 503-288-3991 and 6357 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-246-1934). They carry a great range of glass, semi-precious, wood, and metal beads plus plenty of tools, findings and books. Their classes are wonderful too.

For yarn and all things knitting and crochet, I love Yarn Garden (1413 SE Hawthorne, 503-239-7950). Check out their open knitting night every Wednesday. My other favorite is Mabel’s Café and Knittery (3041 SE Division, 231-4107) which combines a gorgeous selection of yarn and supplies with a darling coffee-and-pastries hangout. Both shops have in-house classes for everything from felting to intarsia.

SCRAP (3901A N Williams, 503-294-0769) must be seen to be believed. Their typical inventory of super cheap recycled craft supplies includes all types of textile remnants such as fabric and yarn, corks, office supplies, various types of paper (decorative & office), framing supplies, metal remnants, wood scraps, magazines, industrial widgets and much, much more!

For a huge selection of fabrics and notions, you can’t go wrong with the giant emporiums in town: Fabric Depot (700 SE 122nd, 503-252-9530) or Mill End (9701 SE McLoughlin, 503-786-1234). Watch for their sales.

There’s also a JoAnn Fabrics on 82nd Avenue and a Michael’s (1798 Jantzen Beach Center, 503-289-1481) for craft supplies.

Josephine’s Dry Goods (521 SW 11th, 503-224-4202) carries exquisite cashmeres, silks, and other gorgeous fabrics.

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Susan Beal is a crafty writer, editor and jewelry designer who divides her time between Portland and Los Angeles. Check out more of her how-tos and cool handmade stuff at susanstars.com and PDX Super Crafty.com.