Happy 2016! Time to PoP, Open FI16 and Meet the Steel City Fiber Collective!

Happy New Year! There is so much to look forward to in 2016. FGP’s public art installation PoP des Fleurs ,designed by Rae Gold, opens at the Carnegie Library main branch in February and continues to PoP throughout the library system leading up to our critically acclaimed Fiberart International 2016 opening at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft in May.

1486678_603550193081916_5088803417974705189_nBut we are not the only group with big plans for the new year. Recently FGP President Susan Swarthout and I met with the newly formed Steel City Fiber Collective. Anna Sylvester, Becca Kreiger, Cheryl Koester and Nora Swisher met through a local Stitch n’ Bitch group and together they saw a need for a warm and inviting place where fiber artists and crafters could meet and share.  Members would join for a fee and have access to space, tools and equipment that is often too expensive or cumbersome to buy as an individual; think Tech shop but devoted to all things fiber and is affordable.

Determined to make their dream a reality these ladies drafted a business plan and launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if the ‘burgh is ready to support such a venue and guess what?  They not only met their fund raising goal they exceeded it! We’re talking looms, long arms, dye stations, workshops for kids and adults of all skill levels and more. A place to meet, hang and stitch, what is not to love about this? Their goal is to find the perfect spot to open in April, 2016 and the search is on!

In addition to discussing the possible ways we might collaborate in the future, we suggested that our members might help with donations and asked what their needs are. “We are interested in any and all fiber arts & crafts equipment, but prefer new or lightly used condition and models which are “current” (as in still available for purchase). A non-exhaustive list is: spinning wheels, drop spindles, looms of all kinds, knitting machines, circular knitting machines, fiber prep equipment (carders, combs, drum carder), swifts, ball winders, blocking mats, blocking forms, rotary cutting equipment (cutters, mats, t-squares, etc). The only consumable materials we could use are undyed fiber and/or raw fleece, unused dyes, wool wash, felting soap. Also if people want to destash their equipment but can’t part with it for free, we are happy to consider buying from the community instead of a big retailer. Happy to entertain any offers, just send us an email!”

If you missed their Kickstarter campaign financial contributions are gratefully accepted. Keep in mind they are not a non-profit organization so contributions are not tax deductible, and to make it super easy a paypal donate button will be available on their website soon.


These ladies are busy, they are out and about in the community and just participated in the second year of Christmas to Remember in West Mifflin making pom-poms and teaching kids how to finger knit.  They are planning to open a store on square to sell t-shirts and aprons with their logo and may expand to include member-made crafts.

We asked them what they would like our membership to know. “We have social media accounts under the name steelcityfiber on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, as well as blog posts on our website. Whichever platform you prefer, follow us and hear our updates! It’s even better if people can interact with us via social media while we wait for our space to open up. We love hearing other people’s ideas about what they want the SCFC to be and seeing what projects people are working on. We are very much looking forward to setting up a space where people can craft and have fun together in a collaborative, supportive community.  Any questions/comments can go to our email address info@steelcityfiber.com.”

Be sure to check out the Steel City Fiber Collective and as you clean out your studio for our annual potluck on January 30th keep these ladies in mind. Now is the perfect time for this initiative as the arts expand throughout the region with new spaces for making popping up all over.  We look forward to exploring new opportunities and working together in the future.