From the “I’ll Ask-a-Crafter” mailbox:
Dear Alaska Crafter,
I’ll be in Alaska for a week on vacation in August. I am always on the lookout for local craft shops — fabrics, yarn, and other cool local craft items.
I live in New York, so I have plenty of stores here for this stuff (and not enough space to store all my purchases! :), but I would love to get something super Alaskan on my trip.
In my clichéd imagination, I see some bear- or moose-printed fabric that would make an awesome throw pillow for my city apartment. But what does a local crafter think I should get in Alaska? And do you have any suggestions where to get it?
Thanks for any help or advice!
On My Way to the Big AK
Dear On My Way,
Let me be the first to welcome you to our great state! The tourist season is just days away for us here in Juneau and, like each year, we welcome crafters of all kinds. From crafting cruises, to cruisers who like to craft, independent visitors, family, friends and even locals, our state offers handcrafted takeaways of every kind to remind you of adventurous times passed and still to come.
For starters, you are dead-on in your imaginings of clichéd animal print fabric. We’ve got it in yards and bolts and it comes covered in deer, moose, bear, and, my personal favorite, whale! Most craft stores within a local vicinity to the cruise docks will have plenty to pick through. Here in Juneau try Changing Tides, Ben Franklin, and, if you have time to further explore, check out Martina’s Fabrics and Raintree Quilting as well.
Just a warning, those fabrics aren’t necessarily made or designed in Alaska, so if you’re looking for something more local (which we love!) then look for the Made in Alaska logo featuring a mother bear and her cub. For quilters and cross-stitchers, there are a plethora of patterns and kits either made by Alaskans or patterned off work by local artists like Barbara Lavallee and Jon Van Zyle. Check out Changing Tides expanding library of quilts, samplers and needlepoint both in Juneau and online at alaskastitching.com.
If you’re interested in learning about Alaska’s rich crafting history, head over to the Alaska State Museum which has amazing examples of Alaska Native stitching, sewing, weaving, beadwork, carving and more. To learn more about these techniques and find work by Alaska Native artists check out Jinéit in the Sealaska building, which has authentic Native Alaskan art as well as books and a knowledgeable staff on the subject. Or head up Mount Roberts Tram that, in addition to a well-stocked shop, often has Alaska Native artists selling their own wares on-site. Before you go, let your fingers do the walking to AlaskaNativeArtists.com, which has traditional and contemporary authentic Alaska Native art.
If beading and jewelry is more your style, Juneau welcomes an expanded Peer Amid beads this year which has layers of beads, art and more for the crafty at heart. Or if fiber arts are more up your alley, try Skeins. This local yarn shop has several unique locally-dyed yarns as well as products made by local crafters.
Whether your adventures take you to Juneau or elsewhere in Alaska, you’ll find that crafts and craft fodder flourish everywhere you go. Don’t hesitate to ask if products are made locally and look for the Made in Alaska logo and you won’t be disappointed. And come back and visit us again soon!