Business Spotlight: Fiberwood Studio is not just a yarn shop

C.T. Kruger
Deb Bednarek of Waukesha (left), Barbara Chappell and Tina Grogan of Elm Grove work on commemorative pins for the upcoming Morning Glory Art Fair at Chappell's Fiberwood Studio at 2709 N. 92nd St. in Wauwatosa.
Published on: 8/4/2014

Fiberwood Studio isn't your typical yarn shop — a fact Barbara Chappell has grown accustomed to explaining over the last 15 years.

It started shortly after she opened in 1999, when a woman came into the store, took one look one look at the cones of weavers' yarn and big furry balls of felt, and nearly walked out.

'Because it was non-traditional, she looked around and said, 'I was looking for a yarn store.' And I said, 'Well, I'm a yarn store!'' Chappell laughed. 'It just didn't come in the package she expected.'

Chappell could say the same. After running a yarn shop in the late 1970s, she always imagined she might open a store again.

But, after relocating to Milwaukee and joining the staff at Mount Mary University as an adjunct instructor a couple of years before, Chappell had only just begun exploring that possibility when she found the space that would become her shop.

'As I drove by this location, there was a for rent sign. And I had already spoken to Mount Mary about weaving looms that they had in storage that they were interested in getting rid of. All the cards kind of stacked up, and it seemed like it was the right time to do it and the right place. … It was very much a domino effect.'

Still, Chappell explained, 'I wasn't looking to just be a yarn seller. I thought I could teach here and have my yarn here and have my studio here. That was the starting point, and it has grown from there.'

Today, the shop carries an inventory of all-natural fibers, including stainless steel yarn, paper yarn and cotton linen silk, as well as weaving looms, knitting machines and other accessories for everyone from knitters, weavers and crocheters to felters, book-makers and mixed media artists.

Studio and workshop

The shop also is a classroom for those looking to learn about the various textile arts. And it's become home to 'The Connection,' a group of 13 to 20 artists, who meet at monthly at the shop for an ever-changing line-up of creative challenges, from one-inch art to full-scale creations made from scraps.

'It's a great time to be inspired and motivated and energized and be creative,' Chappell said. 'We all leave that night with our heads exploding.'

And, judging by the reactions from her newest customers, they're not the only ones.

'They'll say, 'You're so lucky to be able to be in here all day!' or they'll say, 'How can you stand it? There are so many things to do! How can you decide?' … You just have to train yourself to focus. And, even then, I don't get to everything I want to.'


Business: Fiberwood Studio, 2709 N 92nd St.


Phone: (414) 302-1849

Owner: Barbara Chappell

Incorporated: 1999

Type of business: fiber arts store and studio

Pearls of wisdom: 'It's a great time to be inspired and motivated and energized and be creative.'