Fiber Arts Education

FiberMe 2015 – thanks to all!


Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 Posted in Current Issue, Events, Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


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What a wonderful week we shared at FiberME 2015! Every year in early August we celebrate our local Maine fiber arts community, and this year was our 4th annual tour. With a bus full of twenty people we traveled to farms, mills, and the studios of some very talented artists and makers of all things fiber related. Participants came from as close as the next town and several from as far as the west coast. Each of the venues we visited made generous donations to our participant raffles so everyone got to take home treats and souvenirs from this special week – from signed books and handmade fiber jewelry, to alpaca top and skeins of cashmere. The week ended with a boat ride to Cabbage Island for a classic coastal lobster and clambake.

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In addition to the daily excursions participants learned needle felting in a special ‘make it and take it’ class, and enjoyed meeting and shopping from over twenty Maine artists at our annual craft fair. Between great company, perfect weather, delicious local food, and a whole lot of fiber art, everyone had a terrific time!

Our thanks goes out to the extra work everyone put in here at the shop to make it a great week, to the incredible venues that hosted us and generously shared a behind-the-scenes look at their work, and to the wonderful spirit and camaraderie of everyone who joined us. A special thanks to our tour coordinator, Jane Weir, for anticipating every detail and making it a wonderful week.

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Be sure you’re signed up for our email newsletter, and check our class and events calendar for news about this and other great upcoming events at Halcyon Yarn. If you’d like to be a part of this very special event next time, or for more details, please call or email: classes coordinator.

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Fiber arts news


Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


National recognition for a wonderful local program

Spindleworks Program Manager Liz McGhee, left, walks Maine Arts Commission Executive Director Julie Richard and National Endowment for the Arts Chairwoman Jane Chu through the Brunswick program’s Whatnot Gallery.

It is so exciting to see national recognition for the Spindleworks program, which we have long admired in our neighboring town of Brunswick, ME. Spindleworks artists create in many media, and include a wonderful array of fiber arts work. Their fearless motto? “Handicap, i heard of it, but i aint got it now.”  Talk about empowerment!


Knitting new communities in Turkey

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Further a field the fiber arts are also empowering and healing. Knitting is changing Syrian women’s lives in Turkey, thanks to the efforts of Najlaa Sheekh. A small loan let her invest in supplies, and invest in fellow refugees who are now able to earn income while working in a supportive community.


Vegan Taxidermy?

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Cool concept, and a really fun implementation! Full size felted and fabulous creations, including a Musk Ox, will go on display at The Arts Station in Fernie, B.C., Canada, on Aug. 27th. Strictly speaking, some vegans would wonder if wool felting is strictly vegan or not. Meanwhile, the article does not note materials, but apparently you can needle felt with some plant based fibers, such as SoySilk and Bamboo. We suspect this is wool. Wish we were closer to take a look!


Speaking of making models with fiber

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This group in Braintree, Essex, England have recreated iconic town buildings with knitting! You have to admire the creativity and craftsmanship… and wonder if this is how we should be making doll-houses and fire-stations for the kiddos in our lives?


Hair Tapestry – It’s a thing

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Weaving is often thought of as something that’s cool in more of a, shall we say, timeless fashion… Now is your chance as a weaver to be wonderfully cool in the world of high fashion. Turns out, hair tapestries are a thing, and they’re even talking about warp and weft in making them! Any one up for designing a hair heddle, or better yet a 4-shaft hair-loom so folks can progress beyond plain weave? Show ’em how it’s done!


Final thought on intricate free-form hand weaving

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Simon Espinal has created what many consider the worlds finest Panama Hat. Working by hand, working full time, working for months, this is an amazing endeavor. Someone please check our math and terminology, but our guess is that this weave is equivalent to working at around 60 dpi? In 3D? Quite an accomplishment, one thread (rather, reed, as each thread is a single strand of reed) at a time. Appartenly it is so unique that it is difficult to price, and, few would feel comfortable wearing something so precious!

Lowell National Historic Park – Delight for weavers, and, er, everyone!


Monday, August 10th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education | No Comments »


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While I work most of the summer, my wife, Monica, is a teacher (and has summers off, jealous!). She has had some wonderful adventures with our 5yr and 8yr old kids. A highlight was their trip to the Lowell National Historical Park, outside of Boston, in Lowell Massachusetts. Would you guess that visiting historic mills could captivate young kids and adults alike? Guess no longer – it can!

A day at the mills may include a trolly ride, and a canal ride on a barge. Also plan on seeing a room full of antique looms actually working (“they’re really loud daddy!”), and trying your hand at weaving. Perhaps most importantly, the portrayal of history is so accessible! Monica has been viewing New England towns with a new perspective, and our kids have been referring to “mill girls” in all kinds of contexts, relating their experience back to fashion choices, work and play situations, and a surprising number of other things that they see around us daily. It really made an impression on them!

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Another cool outcome? After trying their hand at weaving on the park’s looms, each of our kids has placed a loom on their gift list!

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The looms in Lowell for hands-on-try-out were similar to the Schacht 15" Table Loom 4-Shaft or Leclerc Dorothy 15 3/4" Table Loom 4-shaft, which are fully-functional 4-shaft table looms, and very cool. The sky is the limit with these looms and any 2-shaft pattern or 4-shaft pattern or weaving kit that calls for 4 or fewer shafts (including rigid heddle) should work wonderfully (so long as it’s not too wide and you have the correct reed :-). As wonderful as these looms are, we don’t usually recommend them to children, unless they have an equally-or-more-interested-adult attached. Warping them and selecting a pattern can require some stick-to-it-iveness, and they are pricier than similarly sized rigid heddle looms.

 

Can you still get kids weaving? Oh my yes. My daughter came in to work the other day, and I turned around to find that she had taken over on our demo-model Harrisville 7.5" Easy Weaver which is priced very reasonably and comes pre-warped! We also love the Ashford SampleIt, 8" Rigid Heddle Loom for simple, affordable, capable, portable, rigid-heddle-weaving-fun. The nice thing about these smaller looms is that they can be used not only on a table, but also in you lap in the car or at the beach or wherever your adventures take you.

 

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To find a National Park in a down town, to find that it captivated kids and adults, and to find that it has so powerfully changed our perceptions of New England, has been a wonderful discovery. If you are close to, or passing through Lowell, MA, plan on taking some time to take it in! Now if I could just figure out how to have the whole summer off…

Related items of interest:

Fiber arts news – Swan’s Island in NYT – One of only four certified organic in US


Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


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We’ve been enamored of Swan’s Island for quite some time now. We visit them each year on our (currently running) FiberME tour, and appreciate the care they put into everything they do. Their fibers and colors are so enticingly rich. So it was nice to see a write-up of Swan’s Island in the New York Times Style Magazine blog. Did you know that they are one of only four fully certified organic yarn producers in the US? And that they use all natural dyes? Wonderful stuff! If you’re feeling so inspired, take a gander at our current Swan’s Island delgihts: Swans Island Organic Merino Ecowash SportSwans Island Fingering Organic Merino Wool YarnSwans Island Worsted Organic Merino Wool Yarn

 

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We also love the classes taught by Jackie (aka Dyemama) here at Halcyon Yarn, who dyes for Swan’s Island…

 

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Fabric of the universe? Science and fiber – Fiber arts news


Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


Understand atomic models, complex hyperbolic geometry, and coral reefs?

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I won’t deny: You have to focus a little to read this article, but it got us started on the wonderful intersections of knitting, crochet, weaving and fiber in the sciences. It’s on the historic and current role that knitting has played in the lives of some prominent scientists. But it’s really cool, even if you’re not going to knit a tangible version of an abstract mathematical surface.

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But if you are inclined to knit (crochet, in this case) a complex hyperbolic surface, check out this TEDx video of Daina Taimina. It’s cool, if nerdy. The wonderful things about this video: a) you may actually gain an understanding of complex surfaces without knowing anything about math and b) you may make your own complex hyperbolic surface because they’re just fun! Knitting pattern here, along with many other mathematical knitting projects… But these are best crocheted, and here is the definitive, mathematically rigorous, pattern and explanation as a pdf (with a nice connection to Maine, where she made the first one!). Turns out, Daina’s creations translate wonderfully into coral reef critters, and many (including the Smithsonian) have participated in a project that has done just that!

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We do have two patterns that are a variation on these patterns. While not mathematically rigorous, they make a great scarf that can be knit or crocheted! Check out: Crochet Curlique 2 Ways and  Knit Curlique 2 Ways - two DK/Medium yarns - Pattern download

 

We bet if you call ’em complex hyperbolic scarves, no body will know the difference!

 


Fiber arts neuroscience – it’s fun!

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For something a little more approachable – here is a wonderful story of teaching kids of all ages neuroscience and brain-health concepts through playing with fiber. Turns out there is a *wonderful* educational resource for brain health and fiber arts in pdf form that anyone can use and adapt.  Great projects for all – from expert crocheters to yarn-wraping-absolute-beginner-kids.


Weaving to the rescue? We hope so.

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In Scotland, wild cats are in grave danger, with dwindling populations in peril. Efforts are underway however to provide safe zones where the risk of interbreeding with domestic cats are reduced and habitat is protected. A novel avenue of support comes from a custom designed tartan; hand weaving to the rescue! What other efforts could benefit from hand woven creations?


Meanwhile in Iceland: Grandma, knitting, paragliding?

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A glorious-25-second video of knitting while hang gliding. Because!

Related items of interest:

Beautiful Block Island Blend Yarn Made in Maine


Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News, Knitting, Videos, Weaving | No Comments »


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With its unique fiber combination of 35% Hemp/Flax, 35% Cotton and 30% Rayon, Block Island Blend is a stand out among Halcyon’s Signature Yarns. We’ve been excited about this yarn all along – even more so as we’ve brought production closer to home. If you’re not familiar with this yarn you’re missing out. This stylish 3-ply yarn has one ply of a gentle slub cotton for textural interest, one ply of rayon for subtle sheen and one ply of a hemp/linen blend for added body and strength. You’ll love the wonderful textural dimension it adds to both woven and knitted pieces. Each fiber takes the dye slightly differently creating rich tonal colors and with 29 colors there’s lots to love. Make sure you check out Halcyon’s video highlighting Block Island Blend to see this distinct yarn.

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We love it that customers are looking for more locally produced yarns. We’re fortunate that producing yarn to our stringent standards has become possible in Maine.  Block Island Blend is spun by our good friends at JaggerBrothers, just up the road in Springvale. The spun yarn heads back down to the coast to new and wonderful Saco River Dyehouse to be dyed. Finished yarns are stocked in our one-and-only retail location in Bath, waiting for your visit or order!

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Long known for its elegance and sophistication in woven wraps and table linens such as the Woven Cowl Wrap - Block Island Blend and the Seguin Sunset Table Set weaving pattern, Block Island is now being discovered and loved by knitters. The new Knitter's Magazine Issue 119 Summer 2015 features Block Island Blend color 211 (8211) in Therese Chynoweth’s Mint Cascade, a gorgeous cardigan with set in sleeves with each side framed by lacey cascading leaves. Of course we’ve always known it’s a fantastic yarn for knitting. We’ve experimented knitting it at multiple gauges with both a single strand as well as doubled. There’s something to love about each swatch. One of our all time favorite sweater patterns is the Very Versatile Neck Down Hoodie / hooded pullover by Knitting Pure and Simple in which we used 2 stands of Block Island knit at 4 stitches per inch. How about lace? Just 3 mini cones is all it takes for the Heirloom Lace Scarf in Signature Block Island Blend. Give Block Island Blend a try and let us know what you think.

 

 

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FiberME tour 2015 – one space available


Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 Posted in Events, Fiber Arts Education | No Comments »


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We’re eagerly anticipating our sold out FiberME tour and meeting all the wonderful participants (a highlight each year)! We had a cancelation that has opened up one place on the tour. If you were interested but saw that it’s sold out, now is a great chance to join us.

Easiest way to sign up is to give us a call: 800-341-0282. Take a look at the series of posts we put up this spring highlighting various stops along our way to get a sense of where we’re headed or our FiberME page for an overview or to sign up online!

Fiber arts news


Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


Feel good clothing

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We love making things with fiber and yarn. It’s a wonderful thing to set aside time to create, and to share those creations with others. Here is an inspiring story of an effort to switch clothing production in Bangladesh from exploitation to empowerment. The key seems to be taking “handmade” seriously – and providing childcare, and education. The result allows the joy of making things by hand to take hold alongside pride in production. It’s an inspiring story – and nice to know that the joy that comes from making things with fiber is felt the world over.


Knit nests needed world-wide; rescued cute critters cuddling

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We’ve posted on knit birds nests before – but it turns out that many different rescued animals need appropriate habitat for rehabilitation. Knit nests, burrows and cozies are a perfect remedy. In addition to a bewildering array of bird species, there are weasels, bats, raccoons, possums… the list goes on and on! Wildlife Rescue Nests has a Facebook page with free patterns, and is connected with over 130 wildlife rescue organizations in 5 countries, there may be one close to you! Thanks to Katie Deline-Ray (background story here) for creating Wildlife Rescue Nests and connecting so many knitters, crocheters, and organizations in need.

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