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 and PDX Super

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