Fiber Maine-ia set for Orono this weekend

Posted Oct. 11, 2010, at 6:24 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Fiber artists, farmers and craftspeople will celebrate traditional and contemporary aspects of their work at the second annual Fiber Maine-ia Festival to be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, at the University of Maine.

Vendors, exhibits, workshops and demonstrations will fill the first floor of Memorial Union and the surrounding grounds for this free public event. Participants will encounter alpacas, angora rabbits, sheep and goats, and learn what is involved in caring for these animals.

There will be sessions on spinning, dyeing and felting fiber and presentations on Maine’s textile history, the politics of needlework and how to get started in farming, to name just a few of the scheduled sessions. Children and families will be invited to explore the intriguing combination of quilting and rocketry, in a preview of the Maine Discovery Museum’s “Dream Rocket” program.

For information, visit http://extension.umaine.edu/fibermaine-ia/conference.htm or e-mail mary.bird@umit.maine.edu.

The Fiber Maine-ia Festival is part of a yearlong celebration of Maine’s fiber arts and industry. Maine is home to more than 1,000 sheep farms and more than 100 alpaca or llama farms, as well as numerous goat and angora rabbit operations.

A recent survey of a 10 percent segment of Maine’s fiber production businesses indicated that these operations alone are responsible for more than $1.2 million in Maine’s economy each year. Added to the dollars generated through the other 90 percent of fiber farm operations, as well as the state’s fiber mills, retail yarn and craft shops and galleries, along with feed, fencing and other suppliers, the impact of fiber on Maine’s economy is significant, organizers of the event said.

Workshop schedule is:

Saturday, Oct. 16

• Bobbin lace demonstration, with Gloria Buntrock, 10 a.m.-noon, Totman Lounge. Participants will learn about the history and regional traditions of bobbin lace, examine decorative and practical samples of bobbin lace and observe techniques that can be used for creating bobbin lace edgings, accessories and more. Free.

• Fun with Felting, 10 a.m.-noon, Page Farm and Home Museum, with Patricia Henner, museum director. Children and families are invited to use fiber and wet-felting techniques to create a fun toy for themselves or a friend. Free.

• Dream Rocket Quilt Adventure, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., FFA Room. Presented by the Maine Discovery Museum. This drop-in activity for children and families provides a sneak preview of the Maine Discovery Museum’s Dream Rocket program, opening in December. Use scrap fabrics to integrate the intriguing worlds of quilting and rocketry. Free.

• Exploring Maine’s Textile History, with Judy Faust, noon-12:45 p.m., Totman Lounge. Faust is a spinner, dyer, weaver and former teacher. Participants will investigate textile technologies from earliest times to present day, discovering along the way the part Maine has played in the development of fiber processing and artistic techniques. Free.

• Drop Spindling for ABSOLUTE Beginners, 1-1:45 p.m. Totman Lounge, with Heather Kinne. Kinne is a spinner, knitter and owner of Highland Handmades in Brownville Junction. Beginning with an overview of drop spindling, participants will learn the basics of creating yarn, including ways to prep and draft fiber, how to attach a leader, joins, twist direction, plying and finishing. Bring a drop spindle if you have one. Free. Spindles and fiber will be available for purchase.

• Getting Started in Farming, 2-2:30 p.m. Totman Lounge, with Gail Chase, director of Maine WAgN, or Women’s Agricultural Network, an organization that offers education, training and resources for women involved in, or interested in, farming. In this briefing, participants will learn about resources and assistance available through WAgN, including courses for individuals interested in getting into agriculture. Free.

• All About Alpacas and Their Fiber, 2:30-3:15 p.m. Totman Lounge, with Robin Fowler, alpaca owner and breeder, and founder of the Alpaca Center of New England. Participants will discover what it takes to select and care for these beautiful animals, the story of the breed’s transition from South America to Maine, and how alpaca fiber is prepared and processed. Free.

Sunday, Oct. 17

• Dream Rocket Quilt Adventure Workshop Day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. FFA Room. Presented by the Maine Discovery Museum.

This drop-in activity for children and families provides a sneak preview of the Maine Discovery Museum’s Dream Rocket program, opening in December. Use scrap fabrics to integrate the intriguing worlds of quilting and rocketry. Free.

• The Pin is Mightier than the Sword: Politics and Needlework Magazines in the Early 20th Century, 11-11:45 a.m. Totman Lounge, with Mary Bird. Bird is a spinner, weaver, knitter and educator who studies the lives and work of Maine women. In the early 20th century, women’s needlework magazines provided not just patterns and tips, but also some surprising perspectives on politics and international affairs. This session explores the ways such magazines represented and attempted to influence women. Free.

• Bunny Love: Caring for Your Angora Rabbit, noon-12:45 p.m. Totman Lounge, with Anna Barber. Barber has raised angora rabbits for 13 years. She is a member of the Eastern Maine Rabbit Breeders Association and Maine Angora Rabbit Producers, and is the owner of The Barber’s Bunnies in Bremen. Participants will learn how to select and care for angora rabbits, discover tips for rabbit health and housing, observe clipping techniques and learn how to store fiber safely for future use. Free.

• Drop Spindling Workshop, 1-3 p.m. Totman Lounge, with Debbie Bergman, owner of Purple Fleece in Stockton Springs. Bergman has been weaving, spinning, knitting, felting and dyeing for more than 25 years. One of the earliest tools for making yarn was the drop spindle. It is still one of the most portable and inexpensive ways to create your own yarn. $60 includes top-whorl drop spindle, plenty of fleece and written materials.

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