When you enter Kathleen’s Fiber Arts, you are immediately greeted with shelves, wall unit cubes, and tables filled with soft yarn, felted products and handmade accessories and jewelry. There are over 100 varieties of yarn to choose from. What sets the shop apart from the local chain craft store, is that Kathleen’s Fiber Arts carries mostly natural, non-acrylic yarn, many are from companies that hand-dye and are locally based. Previously on 29 Third Street, the shop has relocated to 212 River Street.
It is hard to imagine that everything in the new location was brought over from the previous space, no new purchases. The high ceilings, new track lighting, large glass windows and pale walls provides a more comfortable shopping experience, besides the ability to see the immense variety in which the store holds. Items are easy to access, glass cases are well lit and there is proper space to spread out projects on a communal table for workshops.
The shop is a second career for owner Kathleen Brown. She has 30+ years experience as a Project Manager and Master Scheduler for large construction projects, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Florida, and The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Her job brought her to many different locations, but with the downturn in the economy, Brown decided to go into business for herself. She opened and ran a similar Fiber Arts Shop in Ocean Spring, Mississippi from 2009-2012. Eventually, Brown decided to retire, while her daughter and grandchildren suggested Brown move to the Capital Region, finding a place in Troy, NY. During Brown’s many moves, what she did not live without was her 72-inch loom, moving it from city to city. She had based her business out of doing what she liked to do and finding the means to learn to do better, during the entire process.
Once Brown settled into the Capital Region, the itch to share her love and knowledge of her craft came back. Kathleen’s Fiber Arts opened in 2015 on Third Street in Downtown Troy. Most of everything sold in the shop is also made in-shop.
Everything really does start in fiber, but it up to the maker in how it is used to produce quality products.
Brown learned to weave in 1986 and had continued to teach on a loom, in addition to knitting, kumihino braiding and needle felting. She was able to learn more about different techniques, while working as a teacher and on the job; than with other means. Brown current loom collection is up to four. The Rigid Heddle loom is for teaching and the more complicated 8-shaft loom is for advanced detail work. Surprisingly, Brown didn’t know how to knit and had to teach herself how in the early stages of her shop.
Taking on projects such as Hand-woven purses with handles, Brown researched how to make a handle with the Kumihimo Loom and to attach charms for the clasps of the bags. This lead her to giving kumihino workshops.
Every two years, Brown closes the shop to attend the bi-annual Convergence Weaving Convention; where there are many new techniques to learn.
In addition to creating items herself, Brown carries items from nine different Fair Trade companies, representing Guatemala, Vietnam, Nepal and more. Brown is especially excited to show these companies, such as Mayan Hands, in her store knowing sales will go back to support female entrepreneurship. Other popular items included are felted bird houses, Folkmann’s puppets and so much more to peruse. Brown is excited about the spacious environment in which she can display the items properly, engage with a sea of color from the yarn and teach what she learns daily with her expanded workshops. She looks forward to welcoming new and old customers and students.