By JoAnn R. Walter —
Owego has blossomed with businesses that cater to the fiber arts community. If you are searching for must-have supplies, looking for inspiration to start a project, or interested in taking classes to learn a new skill, historic downtown Owego has all of that and more.
Red Bird Fiber Arts, located inside Unit 1W at 217 Main St. in Owego, N.Y. opened in April of 2023. Owner, Natalie White had a dream to open a bright, charming space filled with eye-catching yarn and clever notions.
As soon as you open the door, the self-described bright and charming space immediately welcomes you. For the fiber arts enthusiast, those initial first steps inside are a “wow” moment.
Red Bird offers yarns and notions from Tioga County and other local creators, along with supplies from makers who run women-owned businesses, and LGBTQ+ and minority communities. White’s original goal was to provide yarn to the area with a broad range of affordability, and from selections considered staples to the more luxurious.
Red Bird describes it as, “Yarns and notions as diverse as the fiber artists we support,” and welcomes visitors to browse a selection of supplies handpicked to make every project a pleasure to complete.
Today, management of Red Bird Fiber Arts has been passed to Charity Petty. Passionate and enthusiastic, Charity enjoys sharing her knowledge with others, and is working to keep White’s original Red Bird dream in flight.
A native of Chicago, Charity has also lived in Texas and Philadelphia. Her husband’s job brought the couple and their family to Owego about three years ago. Since then, Charity’s parents have also moved here.
Charity remarked, “I like the small-town feel, and I also like that Owego has walk-ability,” and further commented, “There is vibrancy here in Owego, and especially related to the arts, and I am excited to see it grow.”
Red Bird Fiber Arts is located on the corner of Main and Church Streets, and across the street from the First Baptist Church of Owego. Red Bird is just one block away from Gorges Fiber Arts located at 195 Main St., which opened last month.
Charity noted, “Our two shops balance each other out,” and further explained that for the fiber arts community, both businesses offer an opportunity to browse and explore.
Charity shared that there is a genuine, “Renewed interest in fiber arts,” and explained that individuals enjoy creating and making their own items, whether for personal use or to give away. She pointed out, too, that the fiber arts are accessible to all ages and all levels of ability.
A current trend, Charity mentioned, is the “slow fashion movement,” which advocates for clothing and apparel in keeping with environmental factors. Slow fashion involves artisans and the use of eco-friendly materials, and with the goal of preserving crafts along with the environment. In turn, it’s a win-win and a value to all.
Charity is pleased that the value of fiber arts is thriving at OA Schools, and hopes it will inspire others to do the same. In January she started a donation drive and reached out to the community for help. Mounds of new and old yarn, remnants and full skeins of all kinds of brands were dropped off at Red Bird. An OFA teacher picked up the donations; students then “shopped” for their supplies, and all to use for their Crochet Club projects.
Items for sale at Red Bird Fiber Arts include needles and hooks, kits and fun stuff, bags and cases, books and patterns, thread, fabric, and drawers filled with vibrant embroidery floss for cross stitching, and more.
Yarns at Red Bird feature beautiful selections from the affordable to higher-end choices. There are wool and alpaca yarns, and also a section devoted to wool-free, and many selections you won’t find at the big box stores. You’ll find Blue Sky baby alpaca, Germantown 100% wool, Silky Merino, which is a silk / wool blend, and Cascade Farms 100% cotton, just to name a few.
In February, Charity will be hosting crochet classes. Contact the store for information.
Red Bird Fibers Arts is open Wednesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
The store features a “Spouse & Spawn Space,” too, complete with a charging station and lounge chair for the waiting companion, and a kitchen play area for small children. In addition, comfortable sofas await you in the main room.
For information, call them at (607) 223-1598 or visit their website at www.redbirdfiberarts.com. You can also find them on social media.