Wool-ology bringing a felt sense of community 

  • Crafters Diane Sirum, left, and Denise Barnard visit Wool-ology in South Deerfield Saturday to hand-make lavender stems with wool. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID MCLELLAN

  • Deb Stratton, owner of Wool-ology, says it's more than just a shop, it's a community crafting center. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID MCLELLAN

  • Deb Stratton at Wool-ology demonstrates how to make soft wool batting with a carder machine. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID MCLELLAN

  • A sample of the wool felt art on display at Wool-ology. Staff Photo/David McLellan

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2019 2:30:15 AM

DEERFIELD — On a warm Saturday afternoon, three women huddled around a table in the back of Wool-ology, talked warmly and crafted small lavender stems and flowers with wool and wire.

There may be a cash register at the front, and Wool-ology is still a business, but, less than a year since opening, it has become so much more, said owner Deb Stratton.

Wool-ology opened at 242A Greenfield Road in South Deerfield last September as a natural fiber shop selling all sorts of wool, felt and crafting materials. Since then, it has morphed into a classroom and crafting area for people to come take workshops taught by guest crafters, or step in on Fridays to take part in the open studio sessions with Stratton and other artisans of all abilities.

“We have grown so much,” Stratton said, tying a bundle of the crafted lavenders together with some string.

Despite being a one-woman business, Stratton describes Wool-ology as a community crafting area. The plan was always to have a makerspace in the back of the store, where people could eat together, talk together, learn together and — most importantly — craft together.

The new workshops happening in that makerspace add to the sense of community, Stratton said.

“And this is how we’re really going to grow,” Stratton said. “People come here, they can learn the projects they need and people can buy all the materials they need here, too.”

Saturday’s session was a focused one, with crafting lavender stems being the goal, but Stratton said “Fiber Bee Fridays,” Wool-ology’s open studio sessions, have also become popular, allowing people to bring in unfinished projects of their own — or new ideas — and use the store’s space and materials.

“This is such a great place,” said Denise Barnard, who has become a regular at Wool-ology. “It’s just a great shop, and we need more artists in this world.”

Barnard said the space, while providing a sense of community among wool felters, also provides individuality, pointing to a picture of felted animals made at a recent workshop.

“This one’s a little fat,” she said, pointing to one of the soft wool animals poking its head out of a garden pot. “Mine is in a bird’s nest now, not a pot.”

According to Stratton, the workshops can be small with only a few people, or have more than 20, and frequently feature guest instructors. The small, quirky store has drawn in some nationally — and even internationally — known teachers, Stratton said, like children’s book illustrator Jane Dyer.

“She felts all of it, not just the animals, but landscapes,” Stratton said. “Her felt looks just like the animals in her illustrations.”

Another guest instructor recently was Anna Potapova, from Russia, who is returning next year to teach a four-day class on needle-felted dolls.

Martina Celerin is another artist who in September will be teaching “three-dimensional felting,” Stratton said, standing next to a framed set of birch trees with three-dimensional leaves and bark popping off the store wall.

All of the classes allow students, even those who are beginners, to walk away with a lovely piece of art, Stratton said, and the creations are often individualized, with teachers like Celerin encouraging uniqueness.

“If you bring anything (to a workshop), like a piece of your grandfather’s shirt and he’s just passed away, (Celerin) will help you incorporate it,” Stratton said. “Each thing really is personalized.”

The store that opened as a natural fiber outlet’s real treasure has become its students, Stratton said, many who have become regulars. Stratton said having people around allows everyone to learn from each other, and she frequently learns techniques or ideas from her students.

“We specialize in everything fiber here,” Stratton said. “And I always say, ‘We,’ even though I am the only owner.”

Wool-ology started as a three-person-run business, but original co-owners Katie Cavacco and Audrey Levine bowed out for different reasons, leaving it to Stratton.

That’s okay, Stratton said, because the art of wool felting is a personal passion of hers that started thirteen years ago when her 6-year-old daughter, Greyson, brought home a pair of felt dice from a craft class. Stratton picked up the art as a hobby.

A few years later, after a job at New England Felting Supply and more experienced, Stratton started her own business on e-commerce website Etsy in 2011 called “Emma’s Garden Primitives,” selling needle-felting wool, kits and materials — “Emma” was going to be her daughter’s name, but after “sitting in the baby room there were so many Emmas, so the business got the name,” Stratton said. Emma’s Garden Primitives is still up and running, and is a featured brand at Wool-ology.

Upcoming workshops

“Fiber Bee Fridays” are open studio sessions starting at 10 a.m. each Friday. For $10, people may bring projects they are currently working on or start something new. Available is a sewing machine, a variety of felting and crafting tools, a library of books for ideas or tips, tea, coffee and snacks.

To sign up for classes, call 413-350-5158 or register online at www.woolology.info.

Friday, Aug. 9 – “Textile art landscapes” taught by Chris Pellerin from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Class $35; Materials $9.

Saturday, Aug. 10 – “Sleepy barn owl” ornament-making workshop taught by Linda Repasky from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Class $35; Materials $20.

Saturday, Aug. 24 – Wool sunflower pin-making class from Noon to 4 p.m. Class $35; Materials $20.

Wednesday, Sept. 11 – Wool pumpkin-making class from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Class $25; Materials $15.

Sunday, Sept. 22 – Basketry workshop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students should bring scissors, a spray bottle for water, hand towel and tape measure. Class $125 (all materials and lunch included).

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29 – Three-dimensional weaving taught by artist Martina Celerin from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Class $295 (all materials and lunch included).

Saturday, Oct. 5 – Felted autumn squirrel workshop taught by Linda Repasky from noon to 4:30 p.m. Class $40; Materials $22.

Saturday, Oct. 19 – Seasonly landscape needle-felting workshop from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Class $35 (all materials included).

Sunday, Nov. 10 – Felted wool “feather tree” workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Class $125 (all materials and lunch included).

March 19 through 22, 2020 – Four-day felted gnome workshop taught by felt artist Siso from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Class $495.

April 24 through 27, 2020 – Four-day needle-felted doll workshop taught by Russian artist Anna Potapova from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Class $595.


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