Every year the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte celebrates our town’s heritage as a textile community. Fibrefest is a fest of inspiration, beauty, color, texture and sharing.
Being a busy weekend I was only able to spend a few hours there one morning but it was time well spent – figuratively and literally!
Upon entering the hall full of vendors and artists displaying their works and wares I came upon Sayward Johnson, an artist/weaver who works with the finest copper wire. It was fascinating to say the least. Particularly because I’ve just bought a loom…a Leclerc Nilus floor loom. I know little about weaving (other than that I love the look and feel of hand-woven pieces) but couldn’t resist when a friend who is moving to Australian was looking for a good home for her loom. We agreed on a price that to me is the deal of the century and happily the good home turned out to be mine. Upon arrival to pick it up I learned this loom is not a small machine though with a lot of maneuvering, it fits (within millimeters) into the space allowed for by the sliding door of our van. It is now up in our loft sitting until I learn to weave.
But back to Fiberfest and weaving of copper wire. Quite incredible and beautiful. The artist even had a few knitted copper pieces on display.
With my time limited, I forced myself on. Next I had a wonderful discussion of hand stitchery and received an invitation to join a stitching group. A vibrant women who obviously loved what she was doing explained Kumihimo, the art of Japanese braiding, to me.
Further along I watched a woman with a hand spinner working with colorful wool rovings.
Picture of hand spinner courtesy of knitty.com
I purchased two small bundles of her spun rovings in blues and greens.
I’m thinking they will make wonderful mermaid hair for a project still taking shape in my mind. We had a short conversation about dying the wool before I moved on.
I’ve been gathering information on dyeing using natural materials and having my own fibrefest at home recently. I’ve dyed some unbleached muslin using goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis) and red cabbage. The results are not spectacular but I’m happy with my first attempt.
The fabric actually looks better than in the photo here. I was intrigued with the periwinkle blue color produced from the red cabbage dye. The goldenrod dye was quite intense and successfully colored my hands for days. It remains to be seen how lightfast the colors will be. I’ll cut samples to keep in the dark and compare over time. Currently, I have a piece of cotton soaking in carrot top dye which will supposedly provide a nice green. I’m not convinced though. It looks somewhat sickly and greenish-yellow at this point.
But I digress.
Meanwhile back at Fibefest I had moved on and purchased a few needles and threads and then came upon Heather Sherratt‘s weaving display. I couldn’t resist and am now the proud owner of a beautiful green and teal woven Angora and wool wrap. It will be the perfect thing for my up-coming trip to Italy for a textile art course in Sulmona followed by some time in Tuscany. Could I have had a better excuse?
About one-tenth of the way into the displays I had already used up half of my meager time allotted for Fibrefest. I put a rush on…until I hit the bead and silk embroidery thread booth which brought me to a dramatic halt .
Finally on to the take a look at some quilts by local guild members. I was making good headway. But alas, I encountered a vendor with vivid solid cotton prints. What could I do but stop and peruse.
Then I had a strategy, eyes forward and out the door. It worked until I reached the end of the hall and found myself knuckles deep in wool rovings, weighing out a few handfuls of this color and a few of that. A brief stop to learn more about the Out of the Box fibre artists group with another invitation to drop in or take a workshop.
Almost out the door and there it was…calling to me. A simple yet lovely thread painting of poppies by fibre artist Judi Miller. The odd but wonderful thing was that one of my last thoughts as I left the house that morning was how I was wanting a grouping of pictures and paintings of poppies. It was meant to be.
A fest of fibre it was. But even better I enjoyed a fest of sharing the love of handwork. Can’t wait til next year!