Fiber Arts Times Five: Fleece 'N Flax to reopen with expanded range
In 1972, Betty Green opened a shop at 51 Spring Street called Fleece 'N Flax. For the next 4 decades, Green sold embroidery floss, tapestry wool, cross-stitch cloth and patterns across the wooden counters, reaching up to get stock from the rows of shelves behind her. Fans of needlepoint and cross-stitch flocked to Green's store, which closed its doors when she passed away two years ago at the age of 87.
Long-time customers will be pleased to know that a coalition
of local fiber arts craftswomen are reopening the shop. While continuing to offer needlecraft supplies, they are expanding the scope to encompass knitting, weaving, rug-hooking and quilting under the name "The Shops at Fleece 'N Flax."
"It's one way to honor Betty, to keep the name," said Debbie Davis. "We'll also keep a lot of her work here."
Davis, a weaver who owns Red Scottie Fibers, is currently sharing space on Center Street with Michelle Taylor's Little Bo Peep Yarn and Antiques. Her weaving business and the yarn and antique shop will move to the new location at the end of the year, along with Vicki Hardcastle's rug-hooking business, Hardcastle Folk Art, and Glenna Renner's quilting supplies.
"We're going to have a complete, one-stop fiber shop," Davis said.
During the transition, Taylor and Davis will continue to have the Center Street shop open, and also have Fleece 'N Flax open on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to selling needlepoint supplies, they are offering some of the framed cross-stitch and embroidery pieces that Green created for display samples during the decades she owned the shop.
"Customers who knew Betty are coming in to buy a memento of her," Davis said.
Fleece 'N Flax also has a large inventory of embroidery floss, along with tapestry wool and linen, damask, jute and Aida cloth for cross-stitching. Davis has been "canning" the skeins of Persian tapestry wool, she said, the colors glowing from the Mason jars on the shelves that line the walls. A retired educator, Davis was a customer at Fleece 'N Flax even before she moved to Eureka Springs, she said, and has cross-stitch patterns from the shop on the walls of her home.
"I love this shop," she said. "This has been a dream come true to be in here."
Davis said that she and Taylor heard that Green's spouse was interested in leasing or selling the Fleece 'N Flax building, and contacted him. They are keeping the appearance of the main sales floor the same as it was, but are converting the kitchen workspace in back into a sitting area that will used for the twice-monthly knitting group.
Downstairs, the lower level has a work area with a sink at one end. At the other, large daylight windows will provide natural light for weaving and other classes. In between is enough floor space to display antiques and floor looms. The new owners found lots of Green's needlework on the lower level, Davis said, and brought it upstairs. They are selling some of Green's work because of space limitations, but keeping some of it to display, especially pieces for which patterns are no longer available.
"We are trying to keep Betty's memory alive in this building," Davis said. "For 40 years, she was there. People came to Eureka Springs just to come to her store."
Prior to the move, Taylor is reducing the inventory of antiques at Little Bo Peep Yarn by holding a sale. For more information, stop by the shop at 12 Center St. or call 479-981-0832.
The KnitWits meet the first and third Tuesday at 10 a.m. to knit and crochet. The group will meet at Little Bo Peep through the end of the year, then at The Shops at Fleece 'N Flax starting in January. Everyone is welcome.