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Fiber Arts Education

FiberME 2015 Tour Highlight: Jagger Brothers

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 Posted in Current Issue, Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


FiberME 2015 ventures south from Bath on Thursday, August 6th to Springdale, Maine where we’ll visit Jagger Brothers, manufacturers of high quality worsted spun yarns since the late 1800’s. They manufacture custom spun yarns, as well as produce their own yarn lines under the Jagger Spun division of the company. The Springdale mill has been the home of Jagger Brothers since 1956.

Previous visits to Jagger Brothers have elicited fantastic responses from FiberME participants. They are amazed at the many steps involved in producing these high quality yarns: blending, drawing, roving, spinning, winding and twisting. On this year’s tour we’ll travel through the mill following these steps and seeing the combination of old and new, state of the art equipment used in these processes and the wonderful Jagger Bothers employees who produce the yarn.

We love Jagger Brothers, but then, we’re biased… They spin our own Botanica Yarn!


Don’t forget, the early bird price of $750 for the FiberME2015 Tour ends April 30 and then the price goes up to $825. It’s a great opportunity to save. Act fast, it’s filling up quickly.


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Fiber Arts news

Monday, April 13th, 2015 Posted in Current Issue, Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »

Australian tapestry: Socially created, socially conscientious


It’s not often that weaving is a social activity. Large tapestry works seem to be an exception. This work in particular was a moving experience for its creators. Having put in thousands of hours, it is now a powerful piece for those who view it, and provides a powerful testimony to the tragedies and triumphs surrounding “The Gallipoli Letter”. This letter was important in changing the course of Australian troops tragic position in Gallipoli during World War I.

Please go, and tell us about it!

Nell Frizzell with Faroese women ahead of their knitting festival.

The Faroe Islands are about half way between England and Iceland – home to otherworldly landscapes and world renowned knits. Also, apparently, home to some tantalizing, fiber-arts-related, jealousy-inducing craft festivals. Keep the Knitting Festival in mind for next year! Looks to be an amazing opportunity to learn new knitting techniques and make new friends while staying with local knitters.

Knitting is for the birds


Well, this knitting is for the [adorable baby] birds. Details on where to send knit nests and patterns are available in this pdf.

Knitting Nannas protest protested


It seems that someone felt threatened by the Knitting Nannas continued protests in Australia. They have been protesting for over 3 years against coal gas mining. While being confronted was surprising and “even caused some of us to drop some stitches”, they plan to continue to exercise their right to protest.



A Wild World of Color – A sure cure for cabin fever

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »


On a Friday and Saturday in late March, I stepped away from gritty snow banks and entered a world of common plants and foodstuffs to make a riot of color. I was one of the happy participants in a natural dye class and a subsequent indigo dyeing class held at Halcyon Yarn that weekend. What a fantastic cure for cabin fever. If you get a chance, whether at Halcyon Yarn or at your LYS, take a class! We have a ton of interesting classes; learning and being social is so rewarding, you won’t regret it!

Our instructor, Jackie Ottino Graf, is Production Manager at Swans Island Yarns and has years of experience as a “Dye Mama”. We learned about mordants, which create a bond between dyestuffs and yarn or cloth, and how to use “assistants” which alter the chemistry creating subtle shades and variations of color. We used common materials such as avocado, bark and sawdust, and of course, flowers. These assistants could be as simple as washing soda, vinegar, or cream of tartar. The result was a rainbow of amazing colors.


Who could have thought that chamomile flowers would produce such a gorgeous sunshine yellow, or that logwood chips and citric acid would give such a lovely purple? And twenty or more colors from madder root – hard to imagine.

We used Wild Color, a book by Jenny Dean, with handy charts and a great guide to an extensive list of plant dyes. Instructions on cultivating your own plants, harvesting and extracting color and the variations to expect takes a great deal of the mystery on re-creating these fantastic colors.


The following day we brought our own yarns and fabrics to explore another plant dye technique – indigo – that has a long history. Indigo gave us wonderful blues. And when we over-dyed skeins of onion-skin gold we got a beautiful sea green. Our mood was definitely not blue! It was an exciting hands–on experience in creating color from plants.



Looking to try natural dyeing on your own? We absolutely love Earthues: Botanical Natural Dye Kit and Earthues: Indigo Starter Natural Dye Kit. Get started, or round out your library with these natural dyeing favorites: Eco Colour, Earthues Natural Dye Instruction Book, Wild Color, and / or Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes.


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FiberMe tour highlight: Chris Leith

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 Posted in Events, Fiber Arts Education, On Sale | No Comments »


A FiberMe highlight for me is our visit to Chris Leith of Eggemoggin Textile Studio in Sedgwick, Maine.  Chris’ lovely home and studio are perched high on a hill with a distant view of Eggemoggin Bay  and the surrounding blueberry fields.  Chris has a dye / warp painting area set up as well as her two eight shaft looms and a gallery area featuring her woven and shibori dyed scarves and outstanding work of other fiber artists.

This year Chris will demonstrate her method of warp painting so you will be able to see her lovely woven pieces ‘from start to finish’.  When we visit Chris we can get a full appreciation of a well set up and well thought out work area for a fiber artist and how she integrates that work area into her everyday life.

I appreciate Chis’ support and mentoring of other younger fiber artists and her willingness and enthusiasm for fiber arts in Maine.  Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Now is the time to join FiberME 2015 and look forward to visiting Chris and others on Tuesday, August 4th in Sedgwick.  She will be our first stop of the day and she will also join us for lunch so everyone has more opportunity to get to know her.

Don’t forget – the early bird price of $750 for FiberME 2015 is only available until April 30th.  May 1st, the price goes up to $825.00.  Don’t miss your chance to save!

Fiber Arts News

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

Heart-rending contemporary tapestries from Afghanistan and Pakistan


At the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ, what looks to be an amazing exhibit of contemporary works form Afghanistan and Pakistan. The works depict both historic and modern conflict through ancient art forms. The works were purchased in city marketplaces, and the crafts people remain anonymous. If you can’t make it to the show (too far for us!) be sure to check out the stunning brochure that the museum has made available as a pdf here, which contains many beautiful examples of work, as well as places the works within an historic and cultural context.


Knit for monarch butterflies?


Well, no, not really. The David Suzuki foundation does have a wonderful April fools post up about knitting for monarchs. While the plight of the monarchs is real, their need is for real-live-milkweed, and the Suzuki foundation aims to increase that. The #knit3monarchs campaign did spread awareness (not everyone got the joke) and the pattern is real, but we hope that you both knit and plant for our fluttery friends!

Collegiate competitive knitting!


Oh we soooo wish this were real! April fools from Colorado State University, proclaiming the loss of school’s football team due to more interest in competitive knitting :-)

 Small islands, huge inspiration

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A genuine effort to divert the use of disposable plastic bags by promoting a wonderful alternative: Hand woven bags made from locally grown fibers. Educational benefits are a great add-on to these efforts! We’d love to visit Yap, part of Micronesia, to see these works being made first-hand.

Weaving / art installations in bamboo



Current exhibit and lectures at Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts in Florida focus on bamboo art, including weaving and and sculptural works. Wish this were closer, it looks fascinating!

Knitting and weaving a healthy heart

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »

Mending hearts with fiber arts

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This bit of fiber arts news warms our heart. Using time-honed knitting and weaving skills, Bolivian women and making medical devices that doctors are using to to fix hearts.


Another Excuse to Knit

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News, Knitting | No Comments »


Those of us who love to knit have never needed an excuse to personally indulge.  Now, the need to justify our habit to others is another story. So, if you ever find yourself in need of a little backup, Happiness is a Needle and Thread Away:  New Data on Mental Health Benefits of Knitting by Sid Lipsey could be just the ticket. Go forth fellow knitters, knit and be happy.

Time to Learn Something New

Monday, March 9th, 2015 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »

Ahh, March is national craft month, the perfect reason to take a class and learn something new.  Here in Maine it’s almost mud season  – too yucky to garden or play outside  – so play inside with Halcyon Yarn.  The bottom line is it’s a great time to learn something new and inspiring and Halcyon Yarn is the best place for learning all things fibery.
Indigo Dyeing for Fiber Artists
Indigo Dyeing for Fiber Artists with dye maven Jackie Ottino Graf on Saturday, March 28 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm is an opportunity to learn from the creative color force behind the artisanal dyeing at Swans Island Company.
Spend the day being inspired by the intriguing world of indigo. You’ll learn the basics from start to finish of indigo dyeing using powdered indigo and stock solutions.  This method is the commonly used method of production indigo dyers and avoids the unpleasant aspects of indigo dyeing.  Learn to make a concentrated solution,”read your vat”, layer your indigo colors to make different shades of beautiful blues, and over dye other colors to make even more colors and shades.  (If you are registered for the Natural Dyeing class the day before you might want to over dye some of these colors).
We can assure you creativity will abound. Bring 1 pound of clean yarn, unspun fibers, fabric or a combination of all to ‘play’ in the vat.  It’s a perfect opportunity to cull your fiber stash and transform “old” into “new again”. Create plenty of samples for reference and plenty to try in new fiber projects.  Learn all about indigo dyeing without the hassle of doing it all by yourself.
There’s nothing quite like the fun of felting. Join Marianne Dubois on Saturday April 4th from 10am-2pm for Fabulous Felted Jewelry. Learn to make brilliant jewelry from merino wool. This fast paced class takes you from beads and baubles to bracelets, necklaces and beyond. The versatility of felt is as unlimited as your imagination when it comes to wearable art. From sophisticated to silly, you’ll adore your new adornments! Suitable for ages 11 and up, beginners and beyond.
Call to register, 207-442-7909 or 1-800-341-0282 or go to the website www.halcyonyarn.com/classes.
Halcyon Yarn is the your source for fiber classes of all kinds. Be sure to check out our website www.halcyonyarn.com for the latest spring offerings.


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