Fiber Circle Studio x Alisha Reyes
Some of us know our purpose right from the get-go; many of us don’t, we stumble on it. For Alisha Reyes, founder of Sonoma County’s Fiber Circle Studio, it took knitting a pair of socks at age 17 for her life to light up. Literally. At that time she was struggling with depression and ideas around self-worth, and it was that one seemingly tiny act that gave her hope.
Since that moment, Alisha has actively pursued workshops, mentors and teaching experiences to gain mastery of knitting. As she did so, she found she was good at it, like really good. When that pursuit wasn’t quite enough, Alisha headed to a farm in upstate Washington to understand the entire process of fiber, like from the sheep stage on, including spinning and dyeing. She was that committed! Alisha is now a prophetess of the fiber arts but she’s also super approachable and down-to-earth and gets that even if you don’t self-identify as a maker, you get to do it too.
About 18 months ago, at the beginning of 2018, all Alisha’s knowledge got poured into a bricks and mortar space in Cotati, called Fiber Circle Studio. For months before the opening, Alisha collected weaving looms, spinning wheels, sewing machines and drum carders, which all got stored in her 700 square foot home (there’s that commitment showing up again) and which now fill this space instead. She faced down all those barriers to starting an actual space for creatives: like insurance, rent, parking, licenses, you know all the scaffolding that can make our dreams but sometimes make the kind of walls that we don’t want to be building instead. Then there were, and still are, those more personal issues to contend with like money, time, experience, self-value and family time, as well as the reality of being only 28 years old and a mother of two.
Alisha’s getting it done though despite these hurdles. Fiber Circle Studio is a sweet wonderland of making. There are areas for all the fiber arts, like weaving, fiber processing, dyeing, crochet, and knitting, a kitchen station for dyeing, a couple of tables to gather and workshop, even a library of books about process available for members. As Alisha will tell you, “It’s a busy life, but to have all of these incredible things going on in my life is so fulfilling!’
Fiber Circle Studio is designed to support people however they come to the fiber arts. Sometimes that’s with a workshop that starts someone weaving, trying something new, and using their hands again. Building confidence and interest. Or offerings for people at the intermediate and advanced levels, who have exhausted other retail and book-based resources. Recent workshops have brought in fiber artists from Indonesia to explore batik and New Mexico to learn about inkle weaving.
There’s also a membership option, where people get to use the space and tools however and whenever they need, returning again and again to work on their pieces, share their skill, and maybe even collaborate with the person on the loom over. This is a space that works across breadth and at depth, and one of the few places in the US that operates this way in the area of the fiber arts.
And there’s also that community piece, that goes beyond nurturing a potential talent, such as tapestry weaver Keyaira Terry who got her start here, but is also about nurturing us as people and us in community. Fiber Circle Studio isn’t about making in isolation, it’s about making in community and in relation to yourself. That’s evident in programs like Craftaholics Anonymous, but also in the very DNA of this space – it’s all relational, to self and to others. The strands of a life sit here; Fiber Circle Studio exists to help you weave them together, however that makes sense to you.
With Alisha Reyes, Founder, Fiber Circle Studio
Why was a physical space important to you?
To have a place of engagement and interaction. To provide space and equipment for people to explore a creative journey in an inspiring and supportive environment.
What advice would you give to other creatives thinking of starting a bricks and mortar?
Set a budget, list your absolute needs as well as negotiable desires. Envision, plan and do it!
What does community mean in the context of Fiber Circle Studio?
Community is about sharing knowledge, inspiring others and being inspired, growing and evolving on a creative journey alongside others. Making connections and providing opportunities!