Tag Archives: yarn

Open Studios Artist: Meridith Brehmer Entingh

Meridith Bremer Entingh developed a fascination with textiles when she was very young. She started knitting at age seven, and continued to explore the things she could do with fiber. In the 60s and 70s, she worked with embroidery, macrame, and needlepoint. Under the guidance of her father, she switched her major from textiles to business in college, but she never lost her love for working with fiber.

“In the mid-1990s, I became friends with a wonderful weaver, Jane Kinzler Anthony. She had a studio in her basement where she wove beautiful tapestries she sold as office art, as well as functional weaving,” Meridith recalls. “Just seeing what she wove inspired me.” Meridith began taking classes at an arts studio in Old Town Alexandria, and volunteered to work in their yarn shop. She purchased her first loom within the year.

How long have you lived in Roanoke?
We moved here 11 years ago. Part of the criteria for purchasing our home was that there be a room for my weaving studio. Our house has this great little room, 11×11 with built-in cupboards. There was room for my loom and plenty of storage. I quickly outgrew the room with the purchase of my second floor loom in 2007. So, in 2013 , we built a new weaving studio. I bought another large floor loom this year, so now it has two large floor looms, and it is bursting at the seams. 

How long have you been involved with Open Studios?
This is my fourth year on the tour. I asked to be involved in 2014 when my new studio was completed. In my travels around the area to do demonstrations, people are fascinated with how the loom works and they want to know about the process. For this reason, I felt that my studio would be a good addition to the tour. By visiting the studio, people can see all of the tools and the process from start to finish.

Do you have a favorite piece? Why is it your favorite?
My favorites evolve over time. One is the first scarf I ever made 13 years ago. It was woven on a 4-harness table loom. It’s made of alpaca, in cream and a pale grey green. I found the design in a weaving book and was very pleased by the result. I know that creating it inspired me to continue weaving. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed creating table runners and wall hangings using many colors and geometric designs. It’s as close as I can get to drawing and painting with yarn.

Would you say that any of your work is more a reflection of living in Roanoke or your travels and experiences outside of Roanoke?
Both. I’ve lived in many places including up state New York, Oregon, Colorado, and Northern Virginia before moving to Roanoke eleven years ago. I think my work is a reflection of the diversity of the places I have lived in my life. Last year, I designed and wove a ministerial stole for my church. I wanted the stole to be representative of the Roanoke Valley. It is hand painted (dyed) in curves that remind me of our mountains with the Roanoke Star placed on top of the curves. When worn, the Star sits just below the minister’s left shoulder where he can touch it when expressing something heartfelt. 

Meridith’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Meridith and participating artists!

Extraordinary Women: Gina Bonomo

Gina Bonomo, owner of Wool Workshop, is a large part of a movement that is redefining the knitting community. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are regaining popularity, and the influx of younger customers in the market is challenging the concept that these hobbies are exclusive to older generations. Her attention to detail, passion for creativity, and use of social media to promote and sell her products have made Wool Workshop the place to go for unique and trend-setting yarn and patterns. However, what keeps the customers coming back is not only the quality of the product they are getting, but the welcoming learning environment that the store offers.

What made you want to start a boutique yarn store?
I owned a shoe store called Sole Mate for over ten years. It was humming along really nicely, and it was very established. Then my best friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in Richmond. I felt like it was a good time to spend more time with him. I tried to look at the big picture of what was important. I wanted to open something there, so I decided to sell my shop to my manager. I also signed a non-compete agreement that said I could not sell any clothing, shoes, or accessories in the New River Valley or Roanoke area.

I was preparing to move up there and start a whole new business venture, and he died. I did not want to put down roots there if he wasn’t there anymore, so I had to rethink what I was going to do.

I had always been knitting things for people and enjoyed that creative side. This was at the same time that the scarf-craze was happening. Knitting was becoming mainstream. So I decided to open a knitting shop, and it was exactly what I needed. It was healing my soul from the loss of my friend and the business I didn’t have anymore.

FullSizeRender-2
Photo courtesy of Wool Workshop

Let’s talk about the name “Wool Workshop.” Why did you choose it?
Workshop implies a creative space. I don’t like to view this yarn shop as a brick and mortar retail location, but instead as sort of a think-tank, fashion-driven, garment-driven space. It fits with my fashion background and what I have been doing my whole life. I know when I first opened, people didn’t see the connection, but I still feel like I’m in the fashion industry. We are creating garments with sticks and string. I don’t feel like that is a stretch at all. In fact, it is more creative and fashion-driven than what I was in before.

Why do you think knitting is increasing in popularity now?
Sewing, knitting, and crocheting, and many other handiwork things got lost when women went to work. Leisure time went away, and in terms of the garment industry it became cheaper to buy a finished garment than it was to make one yourself like our mothers and grandmothers did.

We are so tech-driven now, and I think that is making us begin to move towards things that make us feel human again and less like machines. Knitting allows people to get back some of the things they have lost. It is about regaining some leisure time and things that have meaning.

How do you choose the yarn you offer to your customers?
Anything local is very appealing. We get something in from a local farmer, and people know the cotton was grown, picked, dyed, and processed in Virginia. Customers love that, because it makes us feel like we are looking out for each other.

I also stay on top of the trends just like clothing stores. There are things people want to knit with and things they don’t want to use. We pay attention to the Pantone colors of the year, and we also offer a lot of products from popular Indie dyers.

When you aren’t knitting or helping others work on their projects, how do you spend your time?
I like to read and spend time with my kids and my husband. I run file miles every day, and I have for the last thirty years. That’s really important to me. I like to keep moving—it makes me a more interesting person to get out of my little circle and see other shops. I am an entrepreneur first and foremost. Of all the other things I do, like designing, my main thing is I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I’m a retailer. I’m having the time of my life really. I could do other things that would make more money, but I just want to be fulfilled, live an authentic life, and be happy.

For more information on Wool Workshop, visit www.skeincocaine.com. Follow @skeincocaine on Instagram for special yarn auctions every Thursday and Friday! Finally, don’t miss Stephen West—the biggest name in knitwear design and knitting. He is coming to Roanoke and Wool Workshop on June 11-12.