The Scarborough Public Library is usually a place for spinning tales, but this Saturday the venue will instead focus on spinning wheels.
The space will be transformed into a fiber arts heaven from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as the library celebrates its third annual Textile Day.
Artisans from all across Maine are expected to fill the library with examples of various fiber and textile arts, demonstrating their proficiency in a variety of hands-on disciplines throughout the day including spinning, weaving, tatting, needle felting, bobbin lace making, embroidery, rug hooking, knitting, crocheting, Kumihimo, Peyote stitching and more.
Attendees will be able to see the progression from spinning raw wool to forming artful displays of both whimsical and functional creations. And, activities will be offered, giving attendees a chance to try their hand at a skill.
Whether you’re a child of the 1940s and ‘50s, when knitting and tatting were all the rage, or a child of the 1960s and ‘70s, when crocheting and macrame were popular, you are likely to find something that piques your interest and, perhaps, sparks a desire to pick up those long unused hooks or needles to finish an old project or realize a new one.
The event is open to all ages.
PROCESSING RAW FIBERS
For those unfamiliar with the subject, textile refers to the processing of raw fibers into a usable medium.
That usually begins by spinning materials, such as wool or cotton, into thread or yarn to be used in hand woven applications or to be placed on a loom to create cloth. Later, those materials are used in the previously mentioned applications, transforming them into fiber art that includes things like home decor, apparel and quilts.
The event has gained in popularity since its premiere in 2012, giving rise to a knitting group that meets from 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday to work on team and individual projects.
The group’s director, Elaine Caron, a retired ICU nurse, was recruited to the position after striking up a conversation with librarian and knitter Louise Capizzo at the first textile day.
“We started with just two members and now have a core group of a dozen regular attendees and many others who come when they can,” said Caron. “This is a great group of ladies, most of whom are very experienced and willing to teach others their skill.”
Each year, the group works on a few projects benefitting the community and various charities.
One year, they knitted tiny, purple infant hats to bring awareness to Shaken Baby Syndrome. The caps were distributed to parents as a visual remind to stop and control themselves during moments of frustration when a crying baby can’t be consoled.
“This year, we are doing two community service projects: One for the Scarves of Hope and Love Project, knitting pink scarves for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and the other is to make hats, scarves and mittens for the Maine Mitten Project benefitting Preble Street and other area resource centers,” said Caron.
Of course, the work isn’t all serious. Knitting group members have been known to participate in knitbombings.
Knitbombing, kniffiti or knitstorming as the library prefers to call it, is a modern, non-destructive form of graffiti that uses colorful yarn to cover an object rather than paint or permanent markers.
Knitbombing installations have popped up all over the world, with knitters and crocheters covering everything from massive bridge to city transit buses and cars – basically any size or shape a knitter can create.
“(Yarnbombing) is so much fun!” said Caron. “It doesn’t permanently deface anything. It just makes people smile. And, it’s a fun way to bring attention to the needle arts.”
Examples of the group’s handiwork can be found on a smaller scale about the library property, including sweaters on the birch trees outdoors, a bicycle rack that looks like it has been partially swallowed by a snake and knitted monster feet covering some of the table legs inside.
Library manager of programming and development Celeste Shinay said the annual knitstorming events offer knitters a chance to do something outside of the box while piquing the curiosity of passersby to come by and see more.
Of course, with every succeeding generation, the technology or methodology of a thing or process tends to become faster, more efficient and replete with more options.
FOR DISPLAY AND PURCHASE
And the textiles to be offered at the fair will be no exception. A huge array of colorful materials is expected to be available for display and for purchase.
“This event is an incredible gift to the community,” said Shinay. “These artists come in and share their artwork and knowledge with anyone who wants to learn. And, many of them create project kits that attendees can take home to make.”
“There are a lot of clever creations to see,” said Shinay. “This event makes art more approachable because you get to see the artist creating something and you can try your hand at it without having to make an investment.”
Should attendees wish to discover more about the subject, the library has a fine selection of reading materials and instruction manuals available to check out.
The event is free.
Scarborough Public Library is located at 48 Gorham Road.
Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at: