Published DateLACONIA — Kelly Rolfe has been doing handwork since she was a young girl growing up in Belmont. Learning from her mother, she started with embroidering and soon expanded into other areas of fiber-based creation. She married, raised a large family, and helped run a farm in her hometown, but every moment her hands fell idle, she picked up a needle or a hook and began working on a project.
This week, Rolfe has added a new wrinkle to her life-long love of the fiber arts. She's opened Artisan Wool and Fiber, a shop located at the corner of Canal Street and Beacon Street East.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've been doing something with handwork, needlework," Rolfe explained. By following her interests, she was led to connect with the active community of local practitioners of various fiver arts. It was with this community in mind that she began to plan Artisan Wool and Fiber, a store that she was planning to operate out of her home until her husband stumbled across the listing for the space at 62 Canal Street. Rolfe loved the abundance of natural light in the space, the visibility associated with being near the Post Office, the Senior Center and City Hall, and, what she called the "deciding factor," all of the like-minded businesses nearby. "Canal Street has an artistic flair," she said.
In planning Artisan Wool and Fiber. Rolfe identified a niche. While there are shops in the region that cater to knitters and quilters, she said lovers of other fiber arts have to either travel for an hour or longer to find a store for supplies or buy products online.
"The goal was a place to locally offer goods that they could not readily buy," said Rolfe. She will offer supplies for rug hooking, spinning weaving, penny rugs, among other items. For those curious about how to use the supplies, the store will offer a series of classes. Scheduled in March are classes in rug hooking, needle felting, beginning knitting, weaving, and a class on making a pair of mittens out of felted sweater pieces. If someone likes one fiber art, Rolfe said, there's a good chance he or she might be interested in learning about another. "We really want people to come in here and try something different," she said.
And then there are those who appreciate a hand-made product but don't want to produce it themselves, or those who have made so many items that they've run out of people to give them to, Rolfe is offering completed items for sale in her store. Currently, her stock includes scarves, hooked rugs, mittens for adults and hats and booties for babies.
Carol Dale, a Gilford resident who plans to teach rug hooking as well as sell her hand-dyed wool products at Artisan Wool and Fiber, is among those excited to have a nearby place to support her passion. "I think it's fantastic, we needed something here."
Fiber arts originated as a craft of need, said Dale and Rolfe, a way to provide items of clothing and to bring comfort and warmth into the home. Quickly, though, practitioners of the techniques found ways to create something that was as beautiful as it was useful, something that expresses individual creativity. Said Rolfe, "This is art, plain and simple. It's traditional, it's been around for such a long time, but it's still fresh, people are still finding ways to think outside of the box."
CAPTION for ARTISAN WOOL AND FIBER in AA:
Kelly Rolfe, owner of Artisan Wool and Fiber, is shown here in her shop, located at the corner of Canal Street and Beacon Street East in Laconia. She opened her business earlier this week. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)