Alexandria’s fibre space celebrates 10 years in NoVA

Owner Danielle Romanetti shares how knitting has impacted the mental health of Northern Virginia residents.

Founder of fibre space, Danielle Romanetti (Photo courtesy of fibre space)

Danielle Romanetti has been offering knitting classes in the DC Metro Area for about 13 years, yet it wasn’t until 2009 that she was able to secure a place of her own. Since then, fibre space has evolved into more than a full-service yarn shop, but also a space for individuals to gather, learn and ultimately relax.

Many of the regulars at fibre space practice knitting to relieve stress, and they aren’t alone. According to a 2019 survey from the Craft Yarn Council, an organization made up of a variety of businesses involved in the yarn industry, 93% of respondents use knitting and or crochet as a self-care activity. In fact, knitting’s repetitious movements can help the brain counterbalance stress, slowing down your heart rate and dropping stress hormones, according to the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Knitting can even impact your memory, too. According to an article published in 2011 by The Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, people who participate in crafts like knitting and crochet have a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment, a possible precursor to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

While the benefits are clear, individuals must first learn the proper techniques, which is where Romanetti comes in. Here, she shares how her business has intertwined with mental health.

Photo courtesy of fibre space

First, talk to me about what it means for you to reach 10 years as a business.
It’s been incredible. We are in our third, and hopefully final, location in Old Town, which is about double the size of our previous one. And we were actually able to find a building to purchase, which will really give us the ability to be here for another 10 years because our monthly costs will go down in the future. Since we started, the Old Town  business community here has really been supportive, and there are a lot of fabulous retailers who were willing to partner and pull me in from the start. 

How has your space and workshops served as therapeutic mechanisms?
We have regular introduction to knitting and introduction to crochet classes, with three or four in any given month, that are small with only six students in each one. What’s nice about that is that people are able to really chat and meet each other. We’ve watched people get to know each other in our space and make connections they never would have had.

Also, what’s great about knitting and crochet is that it’s a repetitive craft, with a motion that allows your mind to relax and check out. Most of our consistent customers have added it into everyday activities. For example, some will watch movies at the theater and also stitch, instead of snacking or grabbing their phone, because it’s a really good way to be more mindful. 

Photo courtesy of fibre space

What’s your own experience with knitting and mental health?
One of the reasons I opened the business is because I took on knitting as a stress reliever. I had a panic anxiety disorder in grad school that was really bad and knitting was part of my therapy. Now I do it when I need to take a break from the store and family stress, because it makes me feel relaxed, but also productive.

Actually, some of our clients have told us that their therapists recommend knitting as a form of anxiety relief because the repetitiveness is such a relaxer. In addition to the repetitiveness, we’ve found that just finding something to do in a high-stress situation is really helpful. For example, we’ve had regulars who go through something like losing their job who will knit while they are home instead of watching TV or playing video games. Because you are actually making something and you can see your progress, it is great for multi-taskers and high-intensity people who always need to be doing something.

In honor of the shop’s birthday, there will be a two-day sale and celebration happening on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28. In addition to discounts of up to 30% off, there will also be an activation bar with treats from other Old Town businesses, including Toastique and Lavendar Moon. Plus, visitors will be able to enjoy activities like a DIY decorative station for reusable shopping bags, giveaways and more. For more information on fibre space and upcoming workshops, click here

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