Here are seven small craft stores to consider on your next run for supplies.
Judy Gula could talk about her Alexandria craft shop all day — it’s her favorite topic. “We have most things for a lot of people,” she says, especially new and vintage supplies for fiber and mixed-media artists. That includes a curated collection of high-quality fabrics, wooden printing blocks that were hand-carved in India, textile paint, copper tjaps and textile materials created from silk, cotton, wool, rayon and metallic. “Just come with an open mind and ready to be inspired,” she says.
The shop dispenses a steady stream of YouTube videos, in which Gula — who’s a mixed-media artist — and other experts teach various techniques, like monoprinting on paper using paints and stencils. There are also virtual classes on such topics as jewelry-making and mastering the Bernina sewing machine. “Our mission is to encourage you to be creative and enjoy it and be positive about it,” Gula says. “Because I hear a lot of people go, ‘Well, I made this, but there’s a mistake right here.’ No, no, no. Just say, ‘I made this, and I love it.’ ” 4750 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria. 703-823-0202. artisticartifacts.com.
Last month, Vice President Harris visited this Old Town Alexandria “yarn universe.” She posed for photos in front of skeins of colorful yarn — dark purple, magenta, turquoise, yellow — and emerged with bags in hand. “It was very exciting,” says owner Danielle Romanetti, who opened the shop in 2009. Fibre Space focuses on hand knitting and crocheting, and sells hand-dyed and other yarns that are sourced from within the United States, often from women-owned, small businesses. “We love to share stories about the stuff we carry and why it’s special or unique,” Romanetti says.
The shop also doubles as “an Apple genius bar” for those new to their craft. “We make sure people are there to help folks with dropped stitches or figuring out a pattern,” Romanetti says. “You can sit down with your project and ask questions,” passing it back and forth through plexiglass shields. While the shop is allowing only five customers inside at a time, there’s a park next door where patrons like to hang out and stitch. 1319 Prince St, Alexandria. 703-664-0344. fibrespace.com.
Finch Knitting + Sewing Studio
Nicole Morgenthau opened this boutique shop out of her home in 2013, putting a sandwich-board sign out front to notify passersby of her new business. Within months, she needed more space. Finch now occupies a cozy colonial building in downtown Leesburg that, centuries ago, was a hat-maker’s shop. Customers come for modern fabric, all-natural yarn, sewing machines and irons, and patterns. “We’re a highly curated shop,” Morgenthau says. “[Our inventory] is heirloom quality, so it will stand the test of time and stand up to wear.”
Her goal is to celebrate the social aspect of crafting, which was easier pre-pandemic. Still, upcoming virtual classes include learning how to sew summer basics and designing, sewing, dyeing and burnishing a tote bag. “It’s all of the details, like getting copper rivets and leather handles instead of fabric,” Morgenthau said. “So it’s really appealing to a younger, modern crowd. We try to help people make things they would want to purchase.” 102 Loudoun St. SW, Leesburg. 703-777-8000. finchknittingsewingstudio.com.
This 16-year-old shop in historic Clifton is a scrapbooker’s delight: It’s packed with distinctive paper in various sizes, a wide array of stamps, all kinds of pens and specific brands of craft supplies that big-box stores typically don’t carry. Martinez, the owner, reports that customers routinely come from Maryland and Pennsylvania, returning again and again. In addition to a robust scrapbooking department, the store specializes in mixed-media journals and books, card making, fine arts (such as canvases and paint) and jewelry-making. “I try and accommodate whatever people need,” Martinez says. “I have good distributors, so I can get things people want and be able to carry it for them.”
Though participation is currently limited to four students, there are upcoming classes on creating cards and tag book albums. “It’s kind of out of the way — it’s not on everybody’s radar,” Martinez says of the shop’s Fairfax County location. She suggests making a day trip out of it and visiting the cute new stores and restaurants that have popped up in Clifton. 12644 Chapel Rd., Clifton. 703-298-7688. goldenshillpapercrafts.com.
Rhonda Medina’s in-laws ran an e-commerce store that specialized in photo albums and scrapbooks, and she recalls always urging them to expand. So when she took over — and rebranded as Inspire Supplier — she broadened the focus to include hard-to-find supplies for all kinds of makers, including designers, entrepreneurs and photographers. Still, the online shop that’s based in Arlington certainly maintains its expertise in photo albums and scrapbooking.
On a recent Thursday evening, Medina recounted spending the day helping the owners of a bed-and-breakfast track down the ideal skinny scrapbook binder for a guest book. “It’s my creative outlet,” she says. “I can’t compete with Michael’s, but I can do custom solutions, and I’d love to hear what people can’t find and would want to have in a local craft store.” Just before the pandemic, Inspire Supplier moved into office space in a WeWork building in Crystal City that has since closed. For now, the best way to order is to call or visit the shop’s website. 866-772-7200. inspiresupplier.com.
Looped Yarn Works
This Dupont Circle staple carries all the supplies knitters and crocheters might require, from basic to artisanal. On a recent weekday, a shipment from an indie dyer in Japan had just arrived, and the shelves were stocked with notions (the small tools and accessories used while knitting). But owner Jessica Boudreau Hardin doesn’t necessarily expect customers to purchase anything — she invites anyone to come in for help from her staff, who are all professional knitters or crocheters. Because of the staff’s expertise, patrons often bring advanced patterns, and “you can trust that we’re going to be able to answer those questions for you,” she says.
Pre-covid-19, there were regular events — such as Thursday night knit nights, when crafters would bring their projects, snacks and drinks — that fostered a strong sense of community. “People could sit and hang out. People made friends,” Boudreau Hardin says. “We have a strong group of regulars and people that consider themselves part of our little family. It’s a really nice environment, colorful and light.” 1732 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-714-5667. loopedyarnworks.com.
The Woodworkers Club / Woodcraft of Rockville
If you’ve taken up woodworking during the pandemic, consider a visit to this large shop in Rockville. Among its offerings: lumber and slabs, plywood, veneer and turning stock ideal for such uses as spindle making, baseball bats and bowls. There’s an in-house millwork and fabrication studio, and customers can plan and source everything they need for custom projects. Recently, for example, some have ordered leather floors, says Mallory Kimmel, the education programmer and event manager. “There are all sorts of really cool, funky things going on,” she says.
In addition to the retail section, the shop has a strong education arm, including three classrooms for in-person learning. Upcoming courses include box making; resin art — which is particularly trendy; and beginning bowl turning. There are also youth classes, and you can book one-on-one instruction. “A lot of these classes are teaching skills that you can then take home to your home shop,” Kimmel says. “Our focus is both project- and technique-based.” 11910-L Parklawn Dr., Rockville. 301-984-9033. woodworkersclub.com.