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Coastal Flow builds creative community in Port Alberni

Owner Michelle Frost hopes anyone who creates with fibre will drop in for Fibre Thursdays
Donna Forsgren, left, works on a blanket while Coastal Flow Fibre Studio owner Michelle Frost talks about a project on her rigid heddle loom in the front room at Coastal Flow’s historic home on Elizabeth Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

A new drop-in initiative at Coastal Flow Creative Fibre Studio is anything but another knitting group.

Coastal Flow owner Michelle Frost hopes anyone who creates with fibre will drop in for Fibre Thursdays and connect with other makers of all experience levels.

“There’s something about getting together with people and getting out of your head and into your hands,” said Frost, who opened Coastal Flow Creative in a charming 1914 heritage home on Elizabeth Street in Port Alberni.

“This is our purely creative, absolutely indulgent space,” she says of her shop, which includes a retail portion in front, spacious workshop in the back, a personal studio and storage areas upstairs. Frost also has a small glasswork studio in the detached workshop and runs an airbnb as well.

When Frost first opened Coastal Flow Creative on Elizabeth Street she deliberately stocked her shop with material for all sorts of fibre crafts—needlefelting, wet felting, punch needle, rug hooking, weaving, spinning—not just knitting and crochet (although she does stock plenty of yarn). “I stay true to my fibre arts,” she said. “I’m emphatic that there’s more than just knitting.”

Community is also important to Frost, who first learned glass craft from an artist in Victoria when she was mourning the loss of someone close to her. The artist gave her space to grow and learn at her own pace, and that’s something she brings to Coastal Flow.

“I think about that when I look at this space,” she says, sitting at a spacious table in the brightly lit workshop. She talks about the toll the coronavirus pandemic took on the community as people were forced to isolate themselves over the past two years. “I watched my niece and nephew and everything was going online…we have this perception that we are part of a community, but we’re starting to lose the ability to interact and converse and listen and tell stories,” she said.

“You can’t underestimate the power of people connecting,” she said, recalling how her Nana would gather with friends to craft and chat. “And creativity’s a great way to bring that together.”

Frost’s first drop-in visitor, Donna Forsgren agreed. “When I was a kid we used to go to the United Church where Bare Bones (restaurant) is. They used to have Messengers and Explorers there. That’s all we did, was crafts all the time. I went with the neighbour because she used to teach there.”

What Forsgren likes about Fibre Thursdays drop-ins is that she gets to see what other people are making. It will also be an opportunity to learn about different fibre crafts, although there won’t be any formal instruction happening.

“I’m excited about it; to have some place like this to drop in is really nice,” she said.

The workshop table can accommodate a tabletop rigid heddle loom, and there is room for people wanting to bring in their spinning wheels as well as any other smaller fibre projects.

Coastal Flow’s Fibre Thursdays drop-in will happen every Thursday from 1–4 p.m. Coastal Flow Fibre Studio is located at 4632 Elizabeth St. near Johnston Road in Port Alberni. Call 250-412-3738.

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Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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