Sew good for charity — Fiber and fabric store supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Sandra Wyngaard irons fabric to be sold at Scraps and Skeins, a reuse store for the benefit of Strawberry Fields.
Sandra Wyngaard irons fabric to be sold at Scraps and Skeins, a reuse store for the benefit of Strawberry Fields. CDT photo

“Fiber fanatics always have a stash of extra materials,” said State College resident Chris Murphy, who is a long-time knitter, sewer and crafter.

Murphy volunteered many hours pressing, pricing, sorting and organizing the donated materials for the opening of Scraps and Skeins, a new shop that sells unused items related to the fiber arts.

Scraps and Skeins benefits Strawberry Fields Inc., an organization that offers services and support to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is the brainchild of agency board member Ellen Campbell and her project partner Lynn Rogers.

The shop is sure to please budget-conscious knitters, quilters, sewers and crafters and offers a potpourri of new fabric, yarn, knitting needles, buttons, crochet hooks, zippers, needlework kits, books and other notions.

“The prices are a bargain, especially for someone like me who mostly knits for charity,” Murphy said.

A yard of fabric is $2; a skein of yarn is about $1. A hardcover instructional book is $3.

The inspiration for Scraps and Skeins came after Campbell visited a similar shop called SewGreen in Ithaca, N.Y. She worked closely with the owner there to seek advice about creating a “rescue and reuse” shop in Centre County.

“We have a dedicated knitting and crafting community here. And our vision is to artfully display donated craft items while improving the lives of our neighbors with disabilities,” Campbell said.

Another added benefit? Saving yarn and other textiles from the local landfill.

“This is our first vocational venture,” said Cindy Pasquinelli, CEO and executive director of Strawberry Fields. “We’re thrilled to offer this opportunity to our client-consumers at Strawberry Fields in addition to our traditional housing programs.”

These client-consumers with special challenges plan to work at the shop and will be involved in all aspects of a retail business — stocking shelves; pricing merchandise; organizing, measuring and folding fabric; and operating the cash register. Their work at the shop will help them will build business skills, develop a job history, interact with the public, and work among friends in a warm and relaxing environment.

The shop also features handmade items crafted by people who are supported by Strawberry Fields.

“I’m extremely interested in helping those with mental health challenges find opportunities to develop their skills and talents in a safe and nurturing environment,” Rogers said. .

Future plans may include sewing and knitting classes (sewing machines have also been generously donated), expanded hours and perhaps a larger space.