Exploring Fiber Arts in Sonoma County 3-Day Itinerary
Exploring Fiber Arts in Sonoma County 3-Day Itinerary
Whether your passion is fabric or fiber or both, Sonoma County overflows with places to go and things to do to inspire and intrigue you.
From rows and rows of colorful quilting fabrics of all types, to baskets and boxes full of beautiful yarns, many handcrafted locally, it's all here in Sonoma County - all the ideas and supplies you'll need to fuel your weaving, spinning, knitting, and quilting projects.
The sheer beauty of the scenery you'll see along the way is simply breathtaking. The rolling green hills, set off by the bright blue sky, are dotted with grazing sheep that will, eventually, provide the wool for the colorful yarn you'll find here. Straight lines of grapevines and meandering wildflowers mimic classic quilt patterns.
This three-day itinerary covers all types of textiles and fiber arts in Sonoma County, and is laid out in geographical order. If you love quilting, you can highlight all the fabric stores and just visit those. If knitting, weaving, and spinning are your delight, focus on the yarn and fiber stores.
But you might find you don't want to miss a thing, because each site has elements to appeal to all types of fiber fans. And there's so much more to enjoy as you traverse the back roads, small towns, and hidden gems of Sonoma County, three days might be just the start of your Sonoma County fiber adventure.
Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.
Your fiber journey begins just off Highway 101 in southern Sonoma County, in the riverside town of Petaluma (pop. 57,941). The city stretches out on each side of the elevated freeway.
Our first stop is on the western side of Highway 101, in the former Coca Cola bottling plant that now houses the colorful rows of fabrics and accessories (see photo) in the Quilted Angel (200 G St., Petaluma, 707-763-0945), one of the Bay Area's largest quilt shops. With more than 5,000 bolts of material, the Quilted Angel offers a wide variety of fabrics, including reproduction prints from the 1800s and 1930s, as well as modern designs.
You'll also find embroidery supplies and a range of quilting and sewing accessories. The Quilted Angel hosts a variety of classes, including make-and-take-sessions. The classroom is also available for use to baste a quilt (no spray basting) and groups are welcome; it's free if you bring your own machine, or $10 a day to use one of their machines. There's a large parking lot behind the shop, and the store is wheelchair accessible.
Next up is the historic section of downtown Petaluma. Built on secure bedrock, Petaluma is one of the few Bay Area communities not damaged in the 1906 earthquake, which means that today it boasts a well-preserved city center with a distinctive mix of architectural styles.
Here you'll find Stitch Craft (170 Kentucky St., Petaluma, 707-773-4739), an old-fashioned fabric store with plenty to interest quilters and sewers of all types, from fabrics to patterns and notions. The fully-stocked sewing studio includes a variety of sewing machines and sergers, large cutting and work tables, professional dress forms, irons, and ironing boards. Stitch Craft offers beginning to intermediate sewing classes, from how to make a skirt or pillow, to quilting and how to use a serger. The store also offers craft classes like screen printing and jewelry design.
Downtown Petaluma is a great neighborhood to explore on foot, with a mix of antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and specialty stores, and many are housed in lovely historic buildings. Take time to look around a bit, and perhaps grab a bite to eat. The possibilities include pizza, tacos, Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican, steak, seafood, pub grub, California cuisine and more; check the listings of Petaluma restaurants for more details.
Before leaving town, review Petaluma's calendar of events for fiber-related activities. The Petaluma Quilt Guild hosts a number of exhibits and events, including the Great Petaluma Quilt Show & Boutique each fall.
And if you need supplies or just want to check out national brand name fabric and craft chain stores in the area, there are several along the Highway 101 corridor in or not far from Petaluma:
Michael's 1359 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, 707-766-9418
Beverly's Crafts and Fabrics 5701 Redwood Drive, Rohnert Park, 707-206-9523
Joann's Fabric and Craft 425 Rohnert Park Expressway W., Rohnert Park, 707-584-7105
Next you'll take a particularly gorgeous drive through the heart of rural Sonoma County's sheep and dairy country. Head west from Petaluma on Bodega Avenue. The houses and homes lining this two-lane roadway gradually give way to the gently rolling farmlands, weathered barns and sheds, and neat farmhouses of Two Rock Valley. When there's a Y in the road, head right on Valley Ford Road. Enjoy the view around each bend as you wind your way past pastures of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses.
If you have time, stop in tiny Valley Ford (pop. 147). It's not a big place, just a collection of buildings lining the two-lane road, but it's fun. There's no Wi-Fi in town and cell phone reception is spotty at best, but it can be a great spot to kick back and relax in rural serenity. There's a historical marker next to the post office recalling when, back in 1976, environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude ran their famous Running Fence across the rolling hills of Sonoma County, and through the heart of Valley Ford.
If you're ready to find a place to stay the night, the historic Valley Ford Hotel (built in 1864) features seven charming and pet-friendly guest rooms, as well as the popular Rocker Oysterfeller's restaurant, with Southern-inspired food, created with fresh Sonoma County ingredients.
The family-owned Valley Ford Market caters to tourists as well as local farmers and ranchers, offering everything from a great deli, bread, produce, plumbing fixtures, fishing tackle, and an extensive inventory of local wines. Enjoy a tasty breakfast or lunch at Estero Café (with homemade cakes and pies) or family-style meals at Dinucci's Italian Dinners.
The coast is less than 10 miles away, so you could opt for a seafood dinner or a room with a coastal view. For a special treat, consider dining at Terrapin Creek Café (1580 Eastshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-2700), which bills itself as a casual neighborhood spot where friends can gather to enjoy great local and international cuisine. Set in a relaxed but stunningly chic space in Bodega Bay, the café earned national acclaim for its cuisine made with the finest ingredients in inventive pairings, with an emphasis on simplicity.
Nearby lodging options include the Bodega Bay Lodge (103 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 888-875-3525), a luxurious retreat complete with a spa and ocean views from every room; and Inn at the Tides (800 Coast Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 800-541-7788), with elegant guest lodges nestled among secluded, natural surroundings, with sweeping views of Bodega Bay. Or check our listings of coastal hotels and B&Bs.
The first stop of the day lies in the small town of Bodega a little more than five miles inland from the coast (or four miles west of Valley Ford).
In the charming Artisans Co-Op Gallery (17175 Bodega Highway, Bodega, 707-876-9830) you'll find a variety of items handcrafted by local fiber artists, including hats, scarves, clothing, bags, yarn, slippers, and more (see photo).
You'll also find water color paintings, photography, pottery, hand-woven baskets, glassware, gourd art, greeting cards, and other gift items. As many as 40 artists may display their work in this cooperative gallery, with a core group of 10 to 14 members staffing and running the shop. It's a great place to get inspired or to pick up gifts.
Then stroll the town, visiting art galleries and antique shops. Both Bodega and Bodega Bay were filming locations for Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller film, "The Birds" and movie fans will find a number of iconic locations in town, including the Teresa de Avila Church and Potter School house (now a private residence).
From Bodega, head east on the Bodega Highway, a two-lane roadway winding its way through even more acres of western Sonoma County's rural farmland. If you're interested in a scenic side trip, in slightly less than five miles take the left turn to the town of Freestone (pop. 32), a fascinating crossroads community with a number of classic western-style buildings filled with an eclectic mix of shops and businesses.
Those in the know go out of their way to drop by Wild Flour Bread (140 Bohemian Highway, Freestone, 707-874-2938), where sourdough loaves, scones, biscotti, and more are baked in a wood-fired brick oven. Freestone is also the southern end of the 10-mile-long Bohemian Highway, one of the most scenic and pastoral stretches of roadway in California. It's an amazing drive, if you can fit in a side trip just for the fun of it.
From Freestone continue east on Bodega Highway (Highway 12), where open spaces will gradually give way to the houses and buildings of Sebastopol (pop. 7,379), a dynamic small town with an international consciousness. From the center of town, head south (right) on Highway 116 to your first Sebastopol fiber site.
Housed in a former general store, with wonderfully high ceilings and ancient floors (see photo), Yarnitudes (3598 Gravenstein Highway S., Sebastopol, 707-827-3618) offers a comfy and friendly space where people come to sit, sip some tea, and work on their projects. Different projects — knitting, crocheting, spinning — are the focus on various days of the week.
Under the banner "A Haven for the Fibre Maven," the family-owned Yarnitudes sells supplies for all types of fiber arts, including spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and felting. The staff encourages visitors to "pet the yarn" if so inclined — and there's a wide variety of enticing yarn on display, from basic to high end.
There's lots of inspiration and options at Yarnitudes, and the store also offers a variety of classes; check their calendar for current topics.
From there, head north on Highway 116 (Gravenstein Highway), back into town. The highway splits into two one-way roads through the downtown area. Just before the split you'll find The Legacy Thrift & Gift Shop (781 Gravenstein Highway S., Sebastopol, 707-823-7520). This unique secondhand shop specializes in sewing notions, fabric, yarn, beading, scrapbooking, woodcraft, and other craft supplies. Everything is donated, and the proceeds provide about 30 percent of the annual budget for the Sebastopol Area Senior Center.
The place got its start 20 years ago with a donation from the estate of a local woman who had been a dedicated seamstress and crafter. People continue to sort through their "stash" and donate any excess fabric, yarn, and unfinished projects to the store. A paid manager and assistant work with a team of more than 70 volunteers to sort, organize, and price the donations and operate the store.
A few of the items may have seen better days, but there's a little bit of everything here, and you never know what might have just come in. It's a great source for craft supplies, or the obscure sewing notion you just can't find anywhere else.
Then, take the time to explore downtown Sebastopol, a charming mix of restaurants, cafes, pubs, New Age stores, art galleries, and unique shops featuring crafts, health food, clothing, books, house wares, and toys.
The Sebastopol Center for the Arts offers fiber arts classes, and hosts fiber arts exhibits several times a year; check the center's calendar for current offerings. The cooperative Sebastopol Gallery (150 N. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-829-7200) displays artwork by its members and guest artists; local fiber artist Abby Bard's work appears in the gallery during fall and winter months.
And don't miss the shops, tasting rooms, and eateries about a half mile northeast of downtown, in the 220,000-square-foot business center know as The Barlow. Many of the products sold here are produced on site.
From Sebastopol go east on Highway 116 to Cotati, where Fiber Circle Studio (8099 La Plaza, Suite H, Cotati, 707-242-3400) offers fiber-related workshops and equipment for weaving, spinning, fiber processing, sewing, dyeing, knitting, crocheting, and felting. Founder Alisha Reyes has been actively involved in the knitting industry since 2008, and has studied every aspect of the creative process from start to finish. She created Fiber Circle Studio to give fiber artists from new to expert all the resources, tools, knowledge, equipment, and support they need to evolve in their creative journey.
Then hop on Highway 101 north to Santa Rosa. In the historic Railroad Square district you'll find Cast Away Yarn Shop (100 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-9276), a full-service modern yarn and craft shop, with supplies for knitting, crochet, sewing, weaving, felting, embroidery, and more (see photo). Although the store address is on 4th Street, the entrance is around the corner on Wilson Street, so just follow the signs.
Located inside the 1906 Lee Bros. Building (with 18-inch-thick walls), Cast Away occupies a wide open space with high ceilings, gorgeous windows, bright lights, and a delightful mix of colors, textures, and shapes that create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Small looms are clustered in a far corner, and yarns and fibers line the walls and aisles. A couple of soft chairs and a sofa make an inviting gathering spot in the center of the store.
Cast Away offers classes in a wide variety of fiber arts, plus expert help and drop-in sessions for sewing, knitting, and other hand work projects. Private lessons and private party rentals are also available.
For those with mobility issues, the Cast Away store is up a short flight of about eight rubber-coated stairs, with a handrail on each side, but a ramp entrance is available through a neighboring business (call ahead at least five to 10 minutes to arrange to use the ramp entrance).
After you've explored Cast Away, there's much more to discover in the Railroad Square district. If a fiber art project calls for beads, just across the street you'll find Legendary Beads (111 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-569-0338), with an international selection of Japanese seed beads, Czech pressed glass beads, freshwater pearls, ethnic ornaments and trade beads, and more. Or if you're tempted by paper crafts, go around the corner to Helene's Custom Framing & Scrapbooking (109 Third St, Santa Rosa, 707-546-4760).
This is a fascinating neighborhood to explore on foot, with a delightful mix of antique shops, thrift stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and specialty stores. Be sure to stop in at the California Welcome Center (9 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-577-8674) to get helpful tips on other things to do in Santa Rosa and throughout Sonoma County (see photo).
Be sure to check the Santa Rosa calendar of events for fiber-related activities happening while you're in the area. Each June, the Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County hosts the Wine Country Quilt Show for two days at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building.
Dinner possibilities in the Railroad Square district include Mexican, Thai, Italian, and more. Stark's Steak & Seafood (521 Adams St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-5100) offers casual elegance for classic date-night atmosphere with a menu featuring the highest quality beef, sustainable seafood, and an extensive list of local and international wines. La Gare (208 Wilson St., Santa Rosa, 707-528-4355) presents delicious traditional French cuisine in a romantic, quaint, and casually elegant setting.
For a more hip vibe, try Jackson's Bar and Oven (135 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-6900), a casual restaurant dishing up classic American cuisine and interesting new creations from a wood-fired oven. Jackson's also features some innovative and fun cocktails, often with a twist. This is just a short sampling of what's available at dinnertime; check the complete list of Railroad Square Food & Drink for even more choices.
If you're ready to call it a day, lodging options include the Old World atmosphere of the historic Hotel La Rose (308 Wilson St., Santa Rosa, 707-579-3200); the pampering luxury of the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country (170 Railroad St., Santa Rosa, 707-284-1234); or the heated outdoor pool, gym, business center, and free Wi-Fi at Courtyard by Marriott (175 Railroad St., Santa Rosa, 707-573-9000).
And while you're in Santa Rosa, if you're interested there are two brand-name chain fabric and craft stores in the area:
Joann's Fabric and Craft (3620 Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-523-3131)
Michael's (2775 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, 707-591-9382)
To rent or repair a sewing machine, there are also several options in Santa Rosa:
Parkside Sewing Centre (410 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-576-1430)
Meissner Sewing & Vacuum Center (1455 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-575-5259)
Village Sewing Center (506 Lewis Road, Santa Rosa, 707-544-7529)
Start your morning in Railroad Square at Omelette Express (112 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-525-1690). In 2012, this Sonoma County institution celebrated 35 years of serving up hearty made-to-order breakfasts and lunches in a casual setting with good service. Choose from an extensive selection of omelets or create your own, or try one of several styles of eggs Benedict, French toast, and other breakfast favorites.
Option 1: Eastern Sonoma County
Broadway Quilts (20525 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-938-7312) offers a bright, airy gathering space for quilters with a friendly and fun atmosphere (see photo). Housed in 2,400-square foot former sporting goods store, this full-service quilt shop has the room for just about everything, including almost 3,000 bolts of fabric, with a mix of modern and traditional designs.
You'll also find an extensive selection of notions and accessories, a spacious classroom area, and custom machine quilting services. To keep things interesting, owner Gery Rosemugy constantly works to bring in new fabric lines, books, patterns, classes, quilts, blocks of the month, and gift items. And, if you call ahead and make advance arrangements, you and a group of friends can use the classroom area for free for a fun day of sewing.
Located on the southern entrance of the town of Sonoma, Broadway quilts makes a great starting point for exploring the area. The heart of town is the historic central plaza, which is ringed by boutiques, galleries, tasting rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, and historic sites. Stroll, shop, dine, and explore California history in downtown Sonoma.
If you spend the day sewing at Broadway Quilts, you can pick up sandwiches, barbecue, local cheeses, and more right next door at Broadway Market (20511 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-938-2685). If you'd rather sit and be served, consider Sondra Berstein's the girl & the fig (110 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 707-938-3634) offering seasonal menus with French and California cuisine using fresh local ingredients right on Sonoma Plaza, or, just northwest of town, the renowned Sante Restaurant at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. To extend your stay in the Sonoma area, consider a cozy and romantic one-bedroom at Sonoma Best's Guest Cottages, or go for serious luxury and pampering at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.
Option 2: Northern Sonoma County
From Santa Rosa, head north on Highway 101 to the town of Healdsburg, and the full-service yarn boutique, Purls of Joy (461 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-5697). This place is a knitter's and crocheter's delight, with skeins of yarns filling cubbies along the walls and aisles in a bright and cheerful display of colors and textures (see photo).
Comfortable chairs and a sofa beckon in the center, inviting fiber fans to sit and visit, and work on projects. Purls of Joy carries a wide variety of yarns, from basic Patons Canadiana to exquisite wools, alpaca, silks, cottons, bamboo, soy, mohair, and cashmere blends, including a few local yarns. Sample projects are on display for inspiration, and for sale.
Classes typically include only one or two sessions, and are offered in knitting, crocheting, felting, and sewing, with special projects such as lace knitting, hats, scarves, baby items, and clothing. The large classroom area holds sewing machines, which are also available for hourly rental. Sit and Stitch sessions for conversation and needlework are held 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Purls of Joy is just a few blocks — an easy stroll — from Healdsburg's beautiful central plaza, and the neighborhood is full of specialty boutiques, a multitude of art galleries, tasting rooms, restaurants, cafes, and pubs. As you walk to the plaza from Purls of Joy, you'll pass Alma's Oilcloth and Chucherias (437 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-395-0956) with big rolls of colorful Mexican oilcloth sold by the yard, and chucherias (Spanish for knick-knacks or treats) such as purses, bags, and notebooks all made with oilcloth. Another short stroll takes you to Yasuko (383 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-8383), which in addition to clothing by designer Yasuko features a wide assortment of traditional Japanese textiles unavailable elsewhere.
Take some time to stroll around the Healdsburg Plaza, perhaps get a bite to eat. Grab a gourmet sandwich at the Oakville Grocery (124 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-433-3200), California's oldest continually operating grocery store; delight in sustainably sourced food in farm-to-table seasonal menus at the renowned Barndiva (231 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-431-0100); or just stroll downtown Healdsburg to find the cuisine and menu that appeals the most. Or, if you're willing to take a short drive, savor fine cuisine at the Michelin-starred Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant (1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-4231).
For our next stop, head north about 17 miles on Highway 101 to Cloverdale, recently named one of "America's Coolest Small Towns." In a compact downtown area filled with rambling Victorians and cute little shops and galleries you'll find Bolt Fabric + Home (219 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-2658), offering a combination of quilting fabric and stylish gift accessories for the home (see photo).
Housed in a historic 140-year-old redwood building, Bolt offers a warm and welcoming environment to browse quilting notions, patterns, and fabrics, ranging from American Made Brand solid cottons to Certified Organic fabrics and thread, with a large offering of batiks, Retro, Civil War, linen, Kona solids, and more. Bolt stocks a number of specialty fabrics, including about 25 styles of French toweling, as well as needlepoint kits.
For those who need a place to sit and sew, sewing stations are available (for free with advance notice), along with a cutting and pressing table, and an 8-foot-by-8-foot design wall. Classes and lectures vary from beginning sewing and quilting to DIY tote bags, hand-dyeing, and other projects. The walls typically feature work by local quilting artists, and vintage quilts are sometimes displayed for sale.
The home décor section at the front of the store includes powder coat serving ware, European carafes, flatware, and other household and gift items. The store also provides free Wi-Fi, and a comfortable "husband chair."
Be sure to explore downtown Cloverdale, with its burgeoning arts community, highly regarded Zinfandel wines, and a family-friendly atmosphere. Every Friday in the summer months, the cobblestoned town plaza hosts a seasonal street fair and Friday Night Live jazz concerts (late May to early September) sponsored by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance (204 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-4410).
Follow the Cloverdale Sculpture Trail to view a wide variety of outdoor art; enjoy musical and theatrical performances at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center (209 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-2214); and glimpse local history at the Cloverdale History Center and Museum in the Gould-Shaw house (215 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-2067).
Dinner options abound, ranging from all-American burgers, fries, and soft-serve ice cream at Pick's Drive-in, a Cloverdale tradition since 1923, to pizza, or American, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisine; check our listings of Cloverdale restaurants for more details.
This completes your three-day introduction to fiber-related sites and activities in Sonoma County. However, these are so abundant, and there are so many other interesting places to explore, you might want to expand your visit to more than just three days, to be able to relax and enjoy it all. Consider renting a vacation home as a base of operations for a longer stay, so you can take your time at each fascinating location.