Although Neighborhood Fiber Company has been in business for well over ten years, I only learned of it early last year. I was visiting my daughter who lives in Maryland, near Washington, DC. One afternoon we visited Alexandria, Virginia.
As usual, I checked if there were any yarn shops in the area. I was pleased to find fibre space, where I bought my first skein of Neighborhood Fiber Company Yarn. Since that time, I have found the yarn company vending at several of the fiber events I’ve attended. It was only a matter of time before I would visit the studio.
Neighborhood Fiber Company was established in 2006 by Karida Collins. After college she started knitting and fell in love with yarn. She is a self-taught dyer and specializes in bright colors – my favorite. One of the first women of color in the industry, she sells her yarn in her online and brick-and-mortar shop. Her yarns are also available is many shops and fiber shows across the country.
I emailed the shop to ask if we could visit the studio when we were in Baltimore. The exuberant answer of “yes” arrived back. I did not know it at the time, but to get to the yarn shop, guests naturally have to walk through the studio.
When my daughters and I arrived, we were warmly welcomed into the studio. The worker showed us around, gladly answering my questions. There were two people working in the studio, although they were not actively dyeing at the time.
When we first walked in, we were in the area of the studio where the yarn cones were stored. Yarn comes from the mill on cones. The studio carries twelve different types of yarn – different due to the fiber content and the weight of the yarn. They also have a couple types of roving – used by spinners.
At the studio, the yarn is wound into skeins. I was impressed by the skein winder that could produce twelve skeins at one time.
As we moved further into the studio, we saw jugs of dye waiting for their turns.
The most interesting to me, though, were the pots of dyed yarn cooling on the stove. As a hobby dyer myself, I could feel the thrill of creating beautiful colors.
The yarn that was cooling was part of Neighborhood Fiber Company’s new botanical line, Neighborhood Naturals. “Botanicals” refers to yarn that is dyed with natural ingredients – flowers, seeds, and bugs. Karida worked with individuals from Maryland Institute College of Art to solidify the dyeing process and develop the colors.
Botanicals often produce beautiful pastel colors. I haven’t tried dyeing them myself yet, because I don’t wear pastel colors. Neighborhood Naturals are deep and rich colors. I purchased a skein in the cochineal color – gorgeous!
Speaking of purchasing – after we finished looking at the studio, my daughters and I walked up the stairs to the store. We were welcomed as warmly as we were to the studio below.
The yarn store fills the second floor of the building – an old fire house. The room was well lit and filled with so much beautiful yarn.
Yarn was divided by weight and content. The store is unique in that it only carries Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn – no other brands are represented. You might think the inventory would be small, but it was not. The shop stocked more yarn than some other shops I have visited.
Whenever I visit a yarn shop, I look for display samples, so I can see what the yarn looks like when made into a project. Although I’ve worked with this yarn before, samples always inspire me. I was especially intrigued by a couple of designs by Ann Weaver – Fixation Cowl, and the yet to be published, Ragwater and Bitters. I’m planning to make the latter with the yarn I purchased.
Worth a Visit
Visiting the Neighborhood Fiber Company was definitely worth my time. I’d recommend it if you find yourself in Baltimore. We had a car and drove to the store, but there is a train station within a block of the studio and store. The directions are here on the site.
In addition to visiting the yarn shop, there are many other reasons to go to Baltimore. We didn’t have a lot of time in the city, but I’ll tell you what else we did in a different post.
If you have already been to Baltimore, leave a comment below. We plan to visit again when we can spend a little more time, so I’d like to know what you found the most interesting.