Ina Bernard and Donna Graham love fiber art.
Both have knitted, crocheted, weaved and worked with fibers since they were children.
“I love anything that has to do with fiber or weave,” Graham said. “I love anything that comes to working with your hands and working with fiber.”
They met as members of the Handweavers Guild of Pueblo and are still active in the organization. It was there, they dreamed up opening a business that showcased and specialized in fiber arts.
Four years ago, Bernard and Graham opened Artisan Textile Company on Broadway Avenue. The store is located at 121 Broadway Ave., and specializes in handmade fiber art produced by artists in Pueblo and Southern Colorado.
“Everything in here is handmade by local artists,” Bernard said. “We specialize in textiles. We also carry complementary items such as jewelry, handmade cards, pottery and fresh, local honey and honey products. We also carry goat milk products.”
In addition, ATC offer classes in weaving, knitting, crocheting, felting and lace as well as other classes. A yarn spinner group and crochet group meet each week, and the store hosts several events each year like Earth Fest the week of Earth Day, the October Fashion Show, Small Business Saturday and host a featured artist’s work every two months.
Tom Taylor, aka the Poet Spiel, currently has his “yarn painting” on display until Saturday.
The store owners' mission is to promote local artists while keeping fiber arts alive.
“It helps keep the older, heritage-type arts alive,” Graham said.”We have 26 different artisans here. They’re either from Pueblo or Southern Colorado.”
Even the wool sold in the store is provided by a family Avondale.
By selling local products, ATC helps stimulate the local economy and helps local artists who may otherwise struggle to sell their products.
“It’s hard as an artist,” Bernard said. “It’s hard to get the exposure. What we really like to do is highlight that it’s local. You’re supporting a local person, a local artist, and allowing them to keep on doing what they’re doing.”
The family raising sheep was going to sell its flock before Bernard and Graham began selling the wool.
Though the bottom line is important in keeping ATC afloat, the two are more concerned with helping others.
“We’re very much aware of the people,” Bernard said. “That’s what’s important to us. That, and the community involvement. We try to support that.”
Bernard and Graham realized the need for a place like ATC because the handweaver’s guild would have a sale over five days each November at the Vail Hotel downtown. Though the sale was great for those involved, it was limited and left a void the other 360 days a year.
That void is now filled by Artisan Textile Company.
“There’s so much talent, not just in the guild, but across Pueblo,” Graham said. “There’s a need for them to have a place to bring their items for sale, year-round, not just during that small, limited amount of time.”
Bernard added, “The guild’s sale is a wonderful sale. The items are beautiful, but the other 360 days of the year, there’s nothing. We wanted to build on that and make it available all year long and make it more fiber-based, not just hand-woven.”
The store also allows Bernard and Graham to continue their passions.
Bernard combines felting with metal to create unique, handmade jewelry. Graham focuses on anything to do with fiber or weaving. She weaves, knitting, crocheting and paints. She also thoroughly enjoys spinning.
Now as co-owners of the textile store, they hope to meet others with that love and spur on their passions.
“When you find something that you feel like is part of who you are, it’s amazing how many more people that draws into your life and then you get that exchange of ideas,” Graham said.
“We call them kindred spirits,” Bernard added. “Everybody has something inside where they can put their own spin on things.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
The store’s hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The store is closed Sunday and Monday.
For more information, including class and group schedules, visit artistantextilecompany.com or search Artisan Textile Company on Facebook and Instagram.