We live in a day and age when we need everything “now,” and sometimes “yesterday.” When we need or want something new, such as an item of clothing, we order it online or run out and buy it ready-made. It’s difficult to imagine a time when creating a single piece of clothing required hours upon hours of hard work and handcrafting. Many years ago, making clothes began with shearing sheep and harvesting cotton followed by cleaning and spinning fibers by hand to create yarn or thread that could then be made into yards of cloth. Even then, additional steps had to be taken to result in a warm scarf, cozy sweater or other piece clothing. Right here in Hawley, PA, there are many artisans who still create things “the old fashioned way,” using a fiber spinning process that results in beautifully handmade items.
Where to Learn About Fiber Spinning – The Gentle Arts
The Gentle Arts has been a hub for supplies and instruction for those interested in the art of fiber spinning for the last 6 years. Jan Bellhorn opened the first location in nearby Honesdale, PA, before opening a location in the Hawley Silk Mill this fall. Through the years, the store’s product line has grown to include spinning wheels, finished garments, classes, and an exclusive line of Woolenpaupack Yarns.
When you visit a store such as The Gentle Arts for yarn, you will find high-quality fibers that are quite different than you might find in a typical craft or discount store. Here, you’ll find angora, cashmere, wool, alpaca you can use to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.
Want to Learn the Art of Fiber Spinning?
If you’re interested in learning more about fiber spinning, The Gentle Arts offers regular workshops and meetups. Classes include:
Sit and Spin, a free monthly gathering for spinners. Simply bring your wheel or spindle and work while you chat with the group.
Needle Felting Workshop, a monthly workshop where you can learn to needle felt. You can either embellish an item or attempt 3-D sculpting. Cost is $25 per person. You can call the store to register for the class and inquire about the materials needed.
If you’d rather peruse handmade items for purchase, that is an option as well. Among the raw materials, you’ll also find sweaters, scarves and more that are perfect as a gift for someone special or yourself!
The Gentle Arts is located on the Hawley Silk Mill Campus in Hawley, PA. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shop is closed on Mondays.
The Hawley Silk Mill Connection
It seems fitting that The Gentle Arts shop is located here at the Hawley Silk Mill, a building with a rich history in fabric production. Initially called the Bellemente Silk Mill, the mill opened in 1881 and employed 50 young women aged 8-17. Filled with machinery and workers, the mill produced 1 million yards of silk cloth annually. The raw silk was spun by silk worms, which were housed in a small building on the mill campus that is now occupied by the Cocoon Coffee House. Learn more about the Hawley Silk Mill’s history.
While the Silk Mill has not been used for fabric production since the 1950s, it has served many other purposes and has continued to contribute to the local economy. It was completely renovated in recent years and transformed into a vibrant place filled with shops and opportunities for residents and visitors alike to shop, gather, eat, exercise and learn. Stop by to explore its many shops, including The Gentle Arts.