Saturday, August 30, 2008

Urban Fauna Studio

To say I was excited about a new fiber store opening in SF would be an understatement. I love Carolina Homespun, but there's only so much fiber one store can carry, and I'd burned myself out on Carolina Homespun a while ago (which is not to say that I don't browse them at every fiber festival- I just save my money for rarer finds).

I think San Francisco has a large opening for fiber/yarn/craft stores, especially since DIY stuff is still becoming more & more popular. Spinning, though, is not a craft that "normal" people get into. Spinning is a craft that people who are already crafty get interested in. I've never met a woman (or man) who learned to spin, and that's it; they always knit or crochet (or weave) first.

Also, opening a new brick & mortar store (especially one off the beaten path) is quite ballsy in this economy. Jamie Chan must have a really awesome business plan- and she also has the sales from the well-established Mary Jane's Attic- which she owns- to help her out.

So I took two short bus rides to get to the Urban Fauna Studio (kind of a weird name, and isn't there a knitting store in Hayes Valley called Urban Design Studio?)- it's just off Irving- and I was immediately surprised at how teeny-tiny the store is. Teeny-tiny, eenie-weenie, itsy-bitsy... well. The whole store is smaller than my living room. Maybe 8' by 17' (and it has a low ceiling). Of course, the fact that there was about 20 women packed in there didn't help.

They had some nice stuff: Traveling Rhinos minibatts, some handdyed fiber & yarn (though not as much as I'd have thought), almost a whole wall of notions, and adorable apothecary jars filled with a rainbow of wool puffs.

The best thing? They rent spinning wheels for $20/week! That means you can try the Mach 1 or the Ladybug at your leisure. They'll also have classes.

Something I felt detracted from the store: it seems like Jamie is aiming for a craft store, not just a fiber store. She had needle felting stuff (which is to be expected in a fiber store, I guess, but it's not my thing, and it seemed like there was WAY more needle felting stuff than knitting or spinning stuff, not including the wheels), sock monkey kits, and luster dust for embellishing fabrics and polymer clay (which she says she's getting a shipment of soon).

I thought it'd be like a brick & mortar version of the Sweet Sheep, or even Etsy, so I was actually a little disappointed by the physical store. And I didn't enjoy being packed into the tiny space like sardines, and trying to maneuver around all the other shoppers. However, I really enjoyed the energy of the people, and I got to chat quite a bit with the women in line in front & behind me. The ladies in front seemed only aware of knitting & crochet (they were buying some handpainted and some O-Wool), and they'd dragged their bfs along. The woman behind me- Barbara (Rav link), as I later learned- had been to WWKIP Day this past June (it was awesome, btw), and was just as interested as I was in a new fiber store. We chatted about kittens (I need some, she fosters them). The line was very long, for two reasons: there were a ton of people who'd arrived "early" to be one of the 75 who got a goodie bag, and because the checkout process was not what you would call speedy.
I bought a minibatt, a 1/2 oz of a lovely teal-blue Angelina, and a braid of merino-tencel in red-orange-purple.
Minibatt pic is blurry so you can see the colors better (it's minty green with felted nubs in shades of pink).

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