For our Shop Feature, let’s meet maker Brittany Farber who started her small business in 2009 under the name Sew Nina, after her hand sewn creations. Brittany lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband Jeff (a loom maker who also owns his own shop, Woody6Switch) and daughter, Marina.
In 2010, Brittany began to sell weaving kits from her Etsy shop, and over time renamed her label to Fiber Huis. I love that the shop offers crafters sustainably produced weaving supplies and fiber yarns. The kits are a complete package which include all the materials you need, plus a Beginner’s Guide for those who’d like to try their hands on a weaving project.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
I am part Dutch and grew up in a community that values our Dutch heritage. I chose the Dutch word ‘huis’ because it sounds very much like the English word ‘house’. The word ‘fiber’ of course just refers to being a fiber art shop. Thus creating Fiber Huis.
What are your top 3 favorite picks from your shop?
My favorite kit is the Calypso’s Isle Wall Art Kit. I love that color combination.
My Beginner’s Weaving Kit with the oak loom.
I also think it’s really cool that I can offer the same yarns that the Navajo weavers use in their blankets and rugs.
Can you share with us the process of creating these items?
All of my looms are handmade by me, my husband and sometimes my dad. We carefully select each board from our local hardware store, cut the wood to size and assemble each loom. It takes nearly 2 hours to complete each loom. When creating a weaving kit, I design what the final project will look like, test it out with various yarns, then write the booklet, complete with photos of each step.
What do you love most about what you do?
Getting to work from home and be around my family. Teaching others the joy of weaving and supporting them through the process. Creating kits, even though they take me a long time to design. I also enjoy the rhythm of production, assembling kit after kit. For the most part I just enjoy day to day life. I like that each day is a little different, depending on my current goals.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
If I’m stockpiling looms there gets to be a lot of nails to hammer. I try to pass the time by listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I work. I’ve learned to spread apart the work so I’m not stuck doing too many all at once.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Growing my business from a hobby to a business. I listen and read business advice constantly now. I’ve always said art schools need business courses to teach artists how to sell their work. It’s a learn as I go process.
Where do you source your materials? Could you tell us a bit more about their quality and origin?
All of my wood is U.S. sourced and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which is committed to forest sustainability. My booklets are printed at a local, family owned print shop and assembled by me. The yarns in the kits and the Navajo yarns in my shop come from a family owned mill, who sources all of their wool from the U.S. as well. All of the silk ribbons and yarns are made from recycled materials and are handspun/ sewn by women in India earning a fair wage. Sustainability is highly important to me and I do my best to purchase materials that are both environmentally and socially responsible, whenever possible.
Is weaving an easy craft to learn, and what are the basic things beginners need to know about weaving?
The basics of weaving are pretty easy to learn. There is some skill to it and I always tell my weavers not to get discouraged if their weaving doesn’t look “perfect” right away. The skill will come through practice. Once you get past the hurdle of the learning stage, it will become this very meditative and relaxing craft. Something to look forward to at the end of a busy day.
What tips can you give when it comes to buying weaving materials?
You really don’t need a bunch of tools to start weaving. Just a basic loom and a set of tapestry needles is sufficient. I still only weave with tapestry needles. In most cases, you can use just about any yarn for the warp (the yarn that gets wrapped around the loom) or the weft (the yarn you weave with). Your safest best is to buy an actual warp yarn, if you’re not sure. When choosing weft yarns, your possibilities are endless. Choose any yarns, thick or thin, trims from the fabric store or found objects.
Where do you find inspiration?
When designing the projects for my kits I think about what will be the easiest way for a new weaver to learn the techniques. I try to simplify the lessons as much as possible. My designs and color choices are based on current trends in the field of weaving.
Your message to customers and friends.
Thank you all so much for your support by purchasing an item in my shop and leaving such nice feedback. Thank you to those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or my email newsletter. I’ve enjoyed getting to converse with many of you, see your projects and hear your comments. I love what and I do and I enjoy having each of you in my life. I couldn’t do this without you, so thank you!
Thank you so much, Brittany!