SweetGeorgia

The need for shared space.

In my conversations with weavers, spinners, dyers, crafters and guild members this past year, I hear the same lament over and over… “I want to weave but I don’t have space for a loom…” “I have no place to dye…” “I don’t want to dye in my kitchen at home…” and then we talk about how fantastic it would be if we had a space we could use. Some place with space for a gigantic dye/print table, weaving looms and spinning wheels. A place in Vancouver where we could host spinning/knitting nights, host dyeing or spinning classes or … or … even just a place to pick up a new weaving shuttle or extra bobbin for your wheel.

Sorting through my spinning and weaving equipment yesterday, I was a little bit sad about how much equipment I have that just isn’t being used. Over the past three or four years, I have acquired two spinning wheels, three weaving looms, two drum carders, two warping boards, one warping mill, multiple sets of hand carders, hand combs, a zillion books, almost every issue of Spin Off/Handwoven/Rowan/Interweave Knits in the past four years, and an electric bobbin winder AND an electric cone winder. (Half of this stuff is from Jen when she left to go to London.) There’s only one of me… and how many minutes a year will I spend warping with a horizontal mill? I am SO keen on sharing this equipment with like-minded people. It just makes sense that all this stuff get used more often than not.

Of course, we all LOVE our local yarn stores in Vancouver. ThreeBagsFull and Urban Yarns are filled to the brim with absolutely to die for yarns and beautiful things. The Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island is a wonderful place to watch weavers in a working studio. And then there is Fibre Essence which is a co-op for textile artists that offers retail/show space but no workspace for a $75/month fee.

Working in full, natural daylight. Is there anything more lovely?

For some time, I have been blessed with a ton of space to work in. Absolutely BLESSED. I had a separate and dedicated dye room with storage and both wet and dry stations. I also had a completely separate room to house my weaving loom, yarns, and library. This past year, I was so incredibly lucky, my loom was positioned where I could look at the stunning Vancouver mountain landscape while I worked. But no longer. About a month ago, I joined the ranks of tiny apartment owners in Vancouver and have been struggling with how to continue dyeing and weaving where there is just no space. (I have honestly contemplated dyeing in my jail cell-like storage locker, much to the potential chagrin of my strata council.)

_So I’m looking to see what the interest level is like in Vancouver for shared space among textile/fibre artists, designers, and crafters. Where would you be willing to go? How much space do you need? What kind of work do you do? And the clincher… how much would you be willing to pay per month? What is a priority for you? Workspace? Showspace? Retail space? I’m superkeen to see what you think. You’re welcome to reply by email to felicia [at] sweetgeorgiayarns [dot] com._

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About Felicia Lo

founder + creative director of SweetGeorgia // designer + dreamer // wife + mama // dyer, knitter, spinner, weaver, youtuber + author // been writing this blog about colour and craft since 2004 // see what I am making @lomeetsloom and @sweetgeorgia.

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20 thoughts on “The need for shared space.

  1. Laura says:

    I used to have lots of studio space too. And then, like you, I moved into a little apartment. My husband, dog and I share a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment while he attends medical school. When we first moved I had my doubts, but now I love my space. Basically I covered the guest bathroom in water proof tablecloth material and it serves as my “wet” dying room. The spare bedroom (with a walk in closet!) serves as yarn storage, winding, packing, etc. The problem I’m struggling with now is finding places to hang all my yarn to dry, especially when its wet out and I can’t use our balcony.

    I’m telling you all this to say that even small spaces can become cozy and functional, so don’t despair!

  2. Laura says:

    I used to have lots of studio space too. And then, like you, I moved into a little apartment. My husband, dog and I share a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment while he attends medical school. When we first moved I had my doubts, but now I love my space. Basically I covered the guest bathroom in water proof tablecloth material and it serves as my “wet” dying room. The spare bedroom (with a walk in closet!) serves as yarn storage, winding, packing, etc. The problem I’m struggling with now is finding places to hang all my yarn to dry, especially when its wet out and I can’t use our balcony.

    I’m telling you all this to say that even small spaces can become cozy and functional, so don’t despair!

  3. Kim says:

    I’ve been seriously thinking about this myself for some time now. I live in a tiny apartment and really want to start dyeing for a living, but how do you start when you live in a tiny, open concept apartment? Ugh. If you were in Toronto, I’d jump on board in a second! Actually, the thought has me considering the big move! :)

    There is a similar idea here in Toronto…the Contemporary Textile Studio has a space in a building full of galleries called 401 Richmond. They’re more silk screen and printing on textiles oriented, but may be a model to look at?

    Keep telling us how this is going for you. I’d love to know and be inspired to get off my butt and do this myself.

  4. Kim says:

    I’ve been seriously thinking about this myself for some time now. I live in a tiny apartment and really want to start dyeing for a living, but how do you start when you live in a tiny, open concept apartment? Ugh. If you were in Toronto, I’d jump on board in a second! Actually, the thought has me considering the big move! :)

    There is a similar idea here in Toronto…the Contemporary Textile Studio has a space in a building full of galleries called 401 Richmond. They’re more silk screen and printing on textiles oriented, but may be a model to look at?

    Keep telling us how this is going for you. I’d love to know and be inspired to get off my butt and do this myself.

  5. Donyale says:

    I can assure you these laments are oft repeated over the pond too. A mosaic artist girlfriend of mine and I often have these discussions. Will be interested in seeing what comes of your thoughts.

  6. Donyale says:

    I can assure you these laments are oft repeated over the pond too. A mosaic artist girlfriend of mine and I often have these discussions. Will be interested in seeing what comes of your thoughts.

  7. Space for dyeing, one or two days a week. I sell online, so retail space is absolutely not necessarily, and I can spin at home. I need an oven, a counter, and a sink I can pour exhausted dye water and defunct stock in, plus a shelf or two for supplies.

  8. Space for dyeing, one or two days a week. I sell online, so retail space is absolutely not necessarily, and I can spin at home. I need an oven, a counter, and a sink I can pour exhausted dye water and defunct stock in, plus a shelf or two for supplies.

  9. little.one says:

    What a great idea, Felicia! I wish you lived closer to Boston. I always thought that my friends and I should go in together on some studio space, but it would be way too expensive.

  10. little.one says:

    What a great idea, Felicia! I wish you lived closer to Boston. I always thought that my friends and I should go in together on some studio space, but it would be way too expensive.

  11. Michele says:

    We have several places like Western Avenue Studios around that offer studio space at pretty good rates. Check out https://www.westernavenuestudios.com to see how an some old mill building are taking on new life. Maybe you could find something similar in your area.

  12. Michele says:

    We have several places like Western Avenue Studios around that offer studio space at pretty good rates. Check out https://www.westernavenuestudios.com to see how an some old mill building are taking on new life. Maybe you could find something similar in your area.

  13. LisaB says:

    Wish I were in a financial position to do this – it would be lovely to weave with other people around! My boyfriend, 2 cats, and floor loom and I have all crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment that really is a large bachelor with a few walls added in…. but we kind of love it that way (well, the loom kind of doesn’t fit).

  14. LisaB says:

    Wish I were in a financial position to do this – it would be lovely to weave with other people around! My boyfriend, 2 cats, and floor loom and I have all crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment that really is a large bachelor with a few walls added in…. but we kind of love it that way (well, the loom kind of doesn’t fit).

  15. Kitmonster says:

    What about some kind of tiered system? With, say, retail/business, regular and drop in rates? So that people who craft for a living might pay a little more, but have more access or priority to the space, folks who seriously enjoy crafting but have no space can have a regular time/place to go, and people who need to scratch an itch or try something new, or tag along with a friend can do so as well, with limited availability of the space? I would entirely love something like this, but don’t know how often I would go, or how much I would be willing/able to pay. I tend to craft pretty sporadically, but would love to have access to somewhere I could go and try out new techniques or things that require more than 4 square feet of floor or counter space.

  16. Kitmonster says:

    What about some kind of tiered system? With, say, retail/business, regular and drop in rates? So that people who craft for a living might pay a little more, but have more access or priority to the space, folks who seriously enjoy crafting but have no space can have a regular time/place to go, and people who need to scratch an itch or try something new, or tag along with a friend can do so as well, with limited availability of the space? I would entirely love something like this, but don’t know how often I would go, or how much I would be willing/able to pay. I tend to craft pretty sporadically, but would love to have access to somewhere I could go and try out new techniques or things that require more than 4 square feet of floor or counter space.

  17. Tove says:

    I am in the same boat as Kitmonster… I dye and weave as a hobby, but not for a living, so for me I do things kind of sporadically.
    But the idea of a drop in shared space is really appealing to me. I dye in my kitchen, and my stock solutions are under the sink… no more space for more colours!

  18. Tove says:

    I am in the same boat as Kitmonster… I dye and weave as a hobby, but not for a living, so for me I do things kind of sporadically.
    But the idea of a drop in shared space is really appealing to me. I dye in my kitchen, and my stock solutions are under the sink… no more space for more colours!

  19. Chelsea says:

    Wanted to put my two cents in – I’m not a dyer (yet) and although I can spin I don’t as I have no wheel or even a drop spindle at the moment (soon, soon!). BUT I am a Vancouverite and a fibre crafter and I am really excited by the idea of shared crafting space.

    I would love to see something set up as a co-op, which is far and away my favourite business model, and I think it would be great if people like LisaB (and myself, frankly) could “buy in” through sweat equity (i.e. volunteering time to build, clean, fundraise, write business plans, etc.) rather than through actual dollars. OR, people could buy in through donations or loans of equipment.

    Love the idea. Love it, love it.

  20. Chelsea says:

    Wanted to put my two cents in – I’m not a dyer (yet) and although I can spin I don’t as I have no wheel or even a drop spindle at the moment (soon, soon!). BUT I am a Vancouverite and a fibre crafter and I am really excited by the idea of shared crafting space.

    I would love to see something set up as a co-op, which is far and away my favourite business model, and I think it would be great if people like LisaB (and myself, frankly) could “buy in” through sweat equity (i.e. volunteering time to build, clean, fundraise, write business plans, etc.) rather than through actual dollars. OR, people could buy in through donations or loans of equipment.

    Love the idea. Love it, love it.

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