If you’re one of those people who took up a new crafting hobby in the last three years, you’re in good company with many other Americans. For Sara Ingle, the owner of Boston Fiber Company, this spark of interest in knitting, crocheting, sewing, and more has been good for business and for building community.
Ingle started knitting as young as age five when her grandmother would guide her through crafting projects. As she got older, her focus on knitting ebbed and flowed but she never lost the passion. When an opportunity came to turn her job at Bead + Fiber, the SOWA craft and gift shop, into her own fiber works store, Ingle jumped at the opportunity.
“I feel like [Boston Fiber Company] has become such a place of joy and support for myself that I want to be constantly giving back,” Ingle told Boston.com. “I love Boston and being a recognizable craft store in Boston is really important to me.”
Boston Fiber Company was featured on this year’s list of small businesses to support in Greater Boston after Boston.com readers nominated it as one of the best craft stores in the city.
“This is a great yarn and craft store with gorgeous little gifts along with great kits for making gifts. Plus there are gorgeous yarns from local dyers and fantastic needlework kits. I love this place!” Jeanne I. from Quincy said. “There’s even a sip-and-stitch every other Friday to hang out with other crafters and have a glass of something.”
Boston Fiber Company is located at 460 Harrison Ave., which used to be the storefront of Bead + Fiber, where Ingle worked as a teaching instructor for knitting. When the store’s owner decided to downsize, Ingle drew on her love of knitting and years of retail experience to take over the space and expand her own work. The store opened in July and has quickly become a favorite among Boston’s crafting community. Their selection includes supplies for knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and felting. They also offer classes for all skill levels.
Ingle said she’s careful to create an inclusive community at every step of the process, starting with the products she sources for the store. Her goal is to work with as many local vendors as possible, with an emphasis on supporting queer-owned and Black, indigenous, and people of color-owned (BIPOC) businesses. Some of those include Kenyarn, a queer-owned business from Providence that cohosts events with the shop, and Lady Dye Yarns, a Black dyer based in Hyde Park.
“It’s super important to me. I am queer myself and I like trying to make a space,” Ingle said. “I always personally like shopping from small businesses and trying to make sure I’m supporting people who I want to support.”
Another way Ingle supports the communities that matter to her is through regular donations to nonprofits and community organizations. Readers praised the store’s commitment to donating 50% of profits from the sales section to charity.
“Boston Fiber has great yarns and an eclectic mix of other needlework products and gift items,” Jane S. said. “I love that owner Sara Ingle is socially conscious and donates money from sales to worthy causes. The store has a really inviting atmosphere.”
The practice started after Ingle’s grandmother died, leaving behind a collection of yarn that Ingle wanted to use for good. She started selling the yarn for $5 apiece to donate to charity and has since expanded the section. The charity changes every other month and proceeds have gone to benefit the Women’s Prison Book Project, the Trans Asylum Support Seekers Network, and the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.
Ingle said she’s grateful that her customers appreciate the work that goes into giving back to the community because it’s that work that drives her the most. The entrepreneur said she’s most grateful for her job when she’s helping a customer find the right product or guiding someone through a new crafting project. One of the benefits of having a physical space is that she and her customers can really connect. She’s noticed a nice mix of long-time crafters and beginners coming through her doors.
“Younger people in their 20s [are] coming in and wanting to start a crochet project. I think a lot of people work from home most of the time … they’ll knit during a meeting. It gets them through like sitting at a computer for many hours a day,” she said.
Having a brick-and-mortar location also means the store can host a regular free sip-and-stitch event, which several Boston.com readers raved about. The space is small but that event typically draws around 20 people to the store to spend a couple of hours chatting with new people over drinks and crafts. Ingle said it’s emblematic of the kind of space she wants Boston Fiber Company to occupy in the city.
“I don’t want people to be deterred from crafting. That’s why all the sale yarn is $5 and anybody can come to take a class,” Ingle said. “Even at our sip-and-stitch, we have like knitters, and crocheters, and needle pointers, and cross-stitchers so there’s always somebody to ask the question and I want everyone to feel like they can come in and ask questions and not be worried about being turned away.”
This store is one of the dozens of local businesses recommended by readers as among the best in the Greater Boston area. See Boston.com’s list of local businesses here. Find the businesses listed in the interactive map below.