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Crafting creativity takes flight at the Tin Thimble

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Tin Thimble pairs a mother and daughter in a homey, old-fashioned shop that offers textile-making classes and supplies. Sharon Mansfield, 61, and her daughter Emma Farrell, 26, specialize in what were once considered domestic duties and are now thought of as crafting and creating art. The pair offers classes in wool felting, sewing, tatting, and fabric purse- and basket-making. Their store is loaded with vintage patterns, fabrics and notions with new items tucked in here and there. Bins of colorful hand-dyed wool rovings offer a multitude of choices for felters. A roving is natural wool that has been combed, washed and carded, and then put into rope-like strands. At The Tin Thimble, the women teach crafters how to use wool’s natural features to create one-of-a-kind works of art through felting. The business used to be located in Newcastle, until the women were invited to relocate to the fruit shed. They celebrated their one-year anniversary at their new location this month. “We’ve boomed since moving. We’ve quadrupled our business and increased our foot traffic,” Farrell said. According to Mansfield, their classes are attended by people of all ages. She said students from age 8 to 90 have participated. She said the felting classes are their most popular. “It’s not just women. Men have taken the classes. They are interested in the process – the mechanics and science of it,” Mansfield said. The woman also said students from as far away as Rhode Island have taken the felting classes. Wet felting is done by layering bits of colored wool roving to create a design, then warm, soapy water is sprinkled on the wool. The wool is then rubbed to get the strands to mat together. Recently Mallia Leonhard, of Lincoln, was taking her first felting class to make a wall hanging. “I’ve wanted to do this for years,” Leonhard said. Mansfield said felting is “so forgiving” and mistakes are easily corrected. “You don’t need an art background or sewing background. You just have to like color.” Mansfield and Farrell have made the shop a family affair. Mansfield’s husband, Mark, constructed the store in the fruit shed, and Emma’s husband, Chris, handles all of their online business. Mansfield has three other daughters who work with her at the shop. Daughter Lisa Classon, 44, handles the catering for groups and helps teach classes. Her husband, Steve, made the large metal-topped tables used by students for classes. Another daughter, Jill Fargen, 40, creates jewelry that is sold in the shop. The youngest daughter, Hannah Mansfield, 18, is away at college, but is also a sewer for The Tin Thimble. Mansfield’s two sisters also assist her in the shop. Carin Engen teaches felting classes and hand-dyes the wool. Claire Engen also teaches classes. During November, The Tin Thimble is offering classes in making felted scarves, tunics, pumpkins, Christmas stockings, wall hangings, purses and slippers. -------------------- THE TIN THIMBLE What: Handmade apparel, heirloom fabrics, vintage linen, sewing lessons, felting classes, notions, handcrafted gifts, new and vintage patterns. Where: High Hand Fruit Shed, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday Owners: Sharon Mansfield and Emma Farrell Contact: 652-2134