Great Lakes Fiber News for February & March 2018

Great Lakes Fiber Arts News - February and March 2018

Here are the fiber events happening in the Great Lakes region in February and March.  This is not an exhaustive list!  If you have a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share, click here to tell me about it.

Woolfolk Wool Elements Trunk Show at Spun

Friday February 2 – Sunday February 11, 2018

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Wool Elements showcases an sophisticated palette of natural wool colors in easy to knit and infinitely wearable accessories.  Happy hour reception on Friday February 9th from 4-6pm.

Sauder Village Fiber Fest

Sauder Village Knitting and Fiber Arts Retreat

Friday February 9 – Sunday February 11, 2018

The Sauder Heritage Inn is a cozy environment for a fiber retreat.  There’s plenty of space, a great breakfast, a hot tub to soak in, and Sauder Village right next door for a ramble through living history of the area. Registration is available for 2 or 3 day attendance.

Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock Trunk Show at the Michigan Fibre Studio

Saturday February 10 – Saturday February 24, 2018

1503 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Come check out the beautiful range of colors available on Sweet Georgia’s most popular base yarn, Tough Love Sock.  Four samples from Sweet Georgia’s studio in Vancouver, BC, will be available for fondling!  Michigan Fibre Studio is open until midnight on February 23rd.

InterKnit Machine Knitter’s Guild

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-12pm

College of DuPage
SRC 1005, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL
“The Interknit Machine Knitting Guild was founded in the fall of 1995 and established for the support, education, and fellowship of machine knitters of all experience and expertise levels, regardless of the make or model of machine used.”

Spinner’s Flock February Guild Meeting

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

alpaca shearing

Buckeye Alpaca Show

Saturday February 10 – Sunday February 11, 2018

Arena Complex
Summit County Fairgrounds, Tallmadge, OH
The Buckeye Alpaca Show celebrates all that is camelid with a fleece competition, live auctions, and — or course — vendors.

Northern Fiber Arts Retreat

Wednesday February 14 – Sunday February 18, 2018

This cozy retreat on the shore of Lake Superior features more than two dozen classes about spinning, knitting, felting, sewing, and more.  As of early February, there were still many classes with space available.

Spinner's Flock Fleece Fair

Winter Fleece Fair

Saturday February 17, 2018, 10am-4pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
I’ve been going to this sale for 20 years and it doesn’t get more local than this.  The Fleece Fair is a GREAT place to buy fleece (raw and washed), roving, combed top, fiber tools of all kids, and books from local makers and shepherds. That room full of color and wool in the middle a Michigan winter is a truly a balm for the soul.  The prices are really good too.

fingerless mitts for beginning knitters

Beginning Knitting Class — taught by me!

Thursdays February 22 & March 3, 2018 11am-1pm

Spun
407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I love to teach beginning knitters. There’s nothing like that moment when everything clicks together!  In this class, taught over two sessions, I guide you through the basics of how to knit and we work on making a simple pair of fingerless mitts that incorporates these essentials skills.

Roving Indiana: Yarn Crawl

Friday February 23 – Sunday March 11, 2018

Encompassing 13 yarn shops in 10 cities, the Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl is 17-day celebration of all things woolly!  Check out the website for special events, limited edition yarn for the crawl, project ideas, and a pattern to knit your own passport holder.

Creative Spirit Fiber Festival

Friday February 23 – Saturday February 24, 2018

Calvary Lutheran Church
2508 Washington Ave SE, Bemidji, MN
“Come celebrate the best in fiber arts! Friday: in-depth classes taught by experienced instructors (pre-registration required). Saturday: Just $10 admission gets attendees into a vendor market filled with fiber-related items, free mini classes, trunk shows, demos, coffee and homemade treats, door prizes and more.”

Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild Meeting

Monday March 5, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm

Ruth Maney Room, Duluth Depot
506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN
Guest speaking Anita Stech of Cut Loose Creations will talk to the guild about the environmental impact of clothing disposal and how artists are upcycling discarded items and working to reduce clothing pollution.

Jay County Fiber Arts Festival

Friday March 9 – Saturday March 10, 2018

Jay Community Center
115 E. Water St., Portland, IN
Two days of sheep, classes, shopping, art, and storytelling — what’s not to love?  Better yet, author, teacher, and fiber artist Kate Larson is giving a free lecture at 6pm Friday evening.  Not to be missed if you can get there!

machine knitting

InterKnit Machine Knitter’s Guild

Saturday March 10, 2018, 10am-12pm

College of DuPage
SRC 1005, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL
“The Interknit Machine Knitting Guild was founded in the fall of 1995 and established for the support, education, and fellowship of machine knitters of all experience and expertise levels, regardless of the make or model of machine used.”

Spinner’s Flock March Guild Meeting

Saturday March 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Cedarburg Spur Fiber Arts Trail

Friday March 16 – Saturday March 17, 2018

Cedarburg, Grafton, and Thiensville, WI
This festival “celebrates the opening of ‘Commemorating His Purple Reign: A Textural Tribute to Prince’ exhibit at Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Art. Free Admission on Friday and Saturday. Tour local maker spaces and galleries. Shop local makers and businesses. Drop-in make and take sessions. Full-day and half-day textile workshops. See the 1860s carding mill in action at the Cedarburg Woolen Mill.”

Madison Knitters Guild Knit-In

Friday March 16 – Sunday March 18, 2018

Alliant Energy Center
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison, WI
Classes with nationally recognized teachers Susan B. Anderson, Kate Larson, Laura Linneman, Patty Lyons, and Laura Nelkin.  Plus demos, knit-alongs, luncheons, mini skein exchange, stitch marker swap, evening games, and 30 fabulous vendors.

For the Love of Fiber

Saturday March 17, 2018, 10am-5pm

Ramada Inn and Conference Center
1450 S Atherton St, State College, PA
This one-day event celebrates all things woolly with a finished object fashion show, classes, and vendors.

Threaded Streams Fiber Arts Trail Creativity Weekend

Friday March 22 – Sunday March 24, 2018

Baraboo, Portage, Prairie du Sac, and Lodi, WI
Discover maker stories, local textile history, classes, workshops, and demonstrations in this multi-destinaton getaway.

Black Swamp Spinner’s Guild Market Day and Fiber Fair

Saturday March 24, 2018, 9am-4pm

Junior Fair Building, Wood County Fairgrounds
13800 W Poe Rd, Bowling Green, OH
Market Day is a friendly show bringing together wonderful vendors from around the Great Lakes region.  Highly recommended!

Got a tip on a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share? Drop me a note using this contact form.

Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

Holiday Cloth Gift Bags

We switched over to cloth gift bags several years ago.  I was inspired by my friend Katy, who grew up with cloth gift bags thanks to her crafty mom.

We mostly use our bags within our household so that we can keep reusing them.  I do give some gifts away in cloth bags and I hope those bags continue to be reused.  Many of my friends sew; I really hope this catches on!

How to Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

Materials for Making Cloth Gift Bags

Materials for making a cloth gift bag

Woven cotton is the best because it is abundant, inexpensive, and durable.  You probably have some in your stash.  You could also repurpose old button down shirts with a stain or a tear.  Of course, you could contribute to the economy and buy some fabric.  AVOID knit fabrics!  They’re stretchy and will sag once you put something inside the bag.  No one wants saggy bags, my friends!

Thread of any color you like.  You can go neutral with black and white, or go wild with all those spools of bright red or purple that got used once for a project, then tossed into the stash for a nebulous future.  AVOID anything that isn’t mercerized cotton or polyester thread unless you are experienced with them.  You can thank me later.

Ribbon.  I like grosgrain ribbon best for cloth gift bags.  It’s very sturdy and comes in a lot of colors and patterns.  I also use the inexpensive satin ribbon that comes in a lot of colors.  It frays more quickly at the end, but cutting the tips at an angle seems to help slow down that process.  AVOID paper ribbon (aka curling ribbon) or wired ribbon.  They just don’t last!

Tools for Making Cloth Gift Bags

Tools for making a cloth gift bag

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors. If you don’t have a pair for fabric use only, now’s the time to start.  Seriously.  Paper makes scissors dull very quickly.  You can mark the handle with a handy reminder, like “Fabric Only” or “Don’t Even Think of It!”
  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Seam ripper. Just in case!

How to Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

Measure and cut two squares of fabric that are the same size.  I like my bags a little longer than they are wide because they need some room to gather at the top.  I think 12” x 18” is a good starting place, but you can make whatever size you need or have fabric for.

Cut out fabric for cloth gift bag

Put right sides together so your proto-bag is inside out.

Decide which end will be the opening — don’t sew that side!  Sew down one long side, across the bottom, and up the other long side.  Seam allowance doesn’t matter.

Sew up your cloth gift bag

Trim the corners.

Trim corners from inside of cloth gift bag

Fold the opening down about three-quarters of an inch.  Or whatever works for you.  If you’re a little fussy, you can pink the edges.  If you’re insufferable, you can do a fold over hem.  You can always iron down the hem (or pin it) if that makes it easier for you.

Sew the hem down with whatever stitch and thread color makes your day. This is your chance to play with those decorative stitches on our sewing machine!  Whee!

Hem your cloth gift bag

Turn bag right side out.

Cut a piece of coordinating ribbon that’s about 30” long.  Cut the ends at an angle, which looks tidy and prevents fraying.

Cut ribbon for gift bag

Find the halfway point in your ribbon length.   About two inches from the top of the bag, attach the middle of the ribbon to the bag at one of the side seams.  I sew over that spot with three or four passes since it gets tugged on a lot.

Attach ribbon to gift bag

Fill that bag with a lovely gift and tie it shut.  A nice piece of card stock  punched with a hold puncher makes a simple and lovely gift tag.  I thread it onto the ribbon while I’m tying the bag shut.

Make your own gift tags

For our gift tags, we’ve been gluing together old business cards, which are then really thick and weighty tags.  We’ve also artistically cut up old greeting cards to make tags.  Tags can be reused, depending on what you write on them.

Homemade cloth gift bag

Benefits of Cloth Gift Bags

  • They are so attractive and luxurious!
  • Cloth bags save money. After a one-time investment of effort and a little money, you will have all the gift bags you ever need for your household.
  • Cloth bags save time. It’s a lot faster to plop a gift into a bag and tie it shut!
  • Cloth bags reduce your carbon footprint.  Using less paper is better for the environment and produces less waste for your municipality to handle.  Could it reduce your taxes?  I don’t know, but maybe.
  • Cloth bags are quieter.  This one came as a surprise, but the first year we did cloth for Christmas was so peaceful and relaxing for me.  Loud noises overwhelm me — little did I realize how much I disliked all the ripping paper until it was gone, gone, gone.  For the record, our kids have yet to show any sign of mental anguish because they don’t get to rip everything open.  I think the moral superiority of cloth bags spared us that defect.

Who’s in?!

Do you use cloth gift bags already?  What do you like best about them?

Great Lakes Fiber News for January & February 2018

Learn to knit with these simple fingerless mitts

Great Lakes Fiber News January 2018

Here are the fiber events happening in the Great Lakes region in January and February.  This is not an exhaustive list!  If you have fiber news for the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share, click here to tell me about it.

Shawl Knit-a-Long at The Yarn Stop

Saturday January 6 — Saturday February 10, 2018

The Yarn Stop
25 S Main St, Clawson, MI 48017
The Yarn Stop in Clawson, Michigan, is hosting a KAL to make a beautiful shawl.  There are prizes!  You can register on the website; yarn must be purchased at The Yarn Stop.

Cascades Trunk Show by Quince & Co

Monday January 8 – Monday January 22, 2018

Yarn Harbor
4629 E. Superior St, Duluth, MN 55804
“The Cascades Trunk Show by Quince arrives on January 8 and runs until the 22nd.  This Pacific Northwest inspired palette is a showcase of five knits in Quince’s arresting blue hues, from darkest Slate to pale Mist.”

Yarn Party Pop Up

Friday January 12, 2018, 12pm-7pm

Streetkitchen
2722 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
“Yarn Party is a combination of trunk show, stitch n bitch, and demonstrations hosted by Icemelon’s Stash, V Yarns, Mint Rain hand dyed yarns, Anomalous Mind, and Chasing Acorns. The fabulous Lexy Carl will be teaching mini workshops on how to make your own spindle and how to spin yarn as well!”

Spinner's Flock guild meeting

Spinner’s Flock January Guild Meeting

Saturday January 13, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Warm Paws thrummed mitten

Thrummed Mittens Class

Wednesdays January 17 & 24, 2018, 11am-1pm — SOLD OUT

Spun
407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I am teaching my popular class on how to knit thrummed mittens using my Warm Paws pattern. Spun is a wonderfully warm and inviting yarn shop located in the Kerrytown district of downtown Ann Arbor.

Shibui Trunk Show and Yarn Tasting

Saturday January 20, 2018, 11am-2pm

The Purple Purl
1162 Queen St. E. Toronto, ON. M4M 1L4
“We are delighted to be carrying a selection of the decadent and delightful Shibui yarns! We will be hosting a yarn tasting event so you can get your hands on this lovely stuff and try it out on the needles to see what you may just NEED to make of it next!”

Winter Wine and Wool at Sandhill Crane Vineyards

Winter Wine and Wool

Saturday January 27, 2018, 10am-5pm

Sandhill Crane Vineyards
4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201
What could be a better pairing?  This is an awesome event full of delicious victuals, beautiful fiber products, and welcoming community of vinters, dyers, designers, and customers.

Sauder Village Knitting and Fiber Arts Retreat

Friday February 9 – Sunday February 11, 2018

The Sauder Heritage Inn is a cozy environment for a fiber retreat.  There’s plenty of space, a great breakfast, a hot tub to soak in, and Sauder Village right next door for a ramble through living history of the area. Registration is available for 2 or 3 day attendance.

Spinner’s Flock February Guild Meeting

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Buckeye Alpaca Show

Saturday February 10 – Sunday February 11, 2018

Arena Complex
Summit County Fairgrounds, Tallmadge, OH
The Buckeye Alpaca Show celebrates all that is camelid with a fleece competition, live auctions, and — or course — vendors.

Winter Fleece Fair

Saturday February 17, 2018, 10am-4pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
I’ve been going to this sale for 20 years and it doesn’t get more local than this.  The Fleece Fair is a GREAT place to buy fleece (raw and washed), roving, combed top, fiber tools of all kids, and books from local makers and shepherds. That room full of color and wool in the middle a Michigan winter is a truly a balm for the soul.  The prices are really good too.

Learn to knit with these simple fingerless mitts

Beginning Knitting Class — taught by me!

Thursdays February 22 & March 3, 2018 11am-1pm

Spun
407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I love to teach beginning knitters. There’s nothing like that moment when everything clicks together!  In this class, taught over two sessions, I guide you through the basics of how to knit and we work on making a simple pair of fingerless mitts that incorporates these essentials skills.

Roving Indiana: Yarn Crawl

Friday February 23 – Sunday March 11, 2018

Encompassing 13 yarn shops in 10 cities, the Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl is 17-day celebration of all things woolly!  Check out the website for special events, limited edition yarn for the crawl, project ideas, and a pattern to knit your own passport holder.

Open Knitting at Skeins on Main

Thursdays, starting at 6pm

428 S. Main St, Rochester, MI 48307
“Join us for an evening of laughter, friendship, and maybe even a little knitting or crochet.  There’s no fee to attend.  This is not a class, so no instructor is provided.”

Sit & Knit at The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop

Thursdays, 6:30-9pm

350 W Commercial St, East Rochester, NY 14445
“Come join us on Thursday evenings with your current project to socialize and make some new friends! We’ll have treats and coffee to enjoy while you relax and work on your projects. Knitting, crocheting, spinning – everything to do with yarn and fiber is welcome!”

Got a tip on a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share? Drop me a note using this contact form.

Maker Ennui

Photo of tools for sewing gift bags

To make things from raw materials has long brought joy to humans. It is creativity and capability. It is craft and cleverness.

But sometimes we find ourselves at loose ends. We finish a big project and… just… peter out. We get bored or frustrated with what we’re working on and turn away from it. And the ennui sets in. Nothing captures the attention. Projects waiting on the “to make” list suddenly aren’t so appealing. Excuses set in. You get started, but the project has no heart.

Photo of knitting being ripped out.
I like to rip out languishing projects when I don’t know what else to work on.

Maker ennui goes with the territory. It isn’t a failing. We make, we unmake, we reflect — this isn’t a rigid cycle, but instead different stages that we can be in at any time. Probably simultaneously too. Sometimes the reflection stage can feel transcendent, as one explores a new theme in freewriting or takes photos of a beautiful landscape stumbled upon and unplanned for. But sometimes our creative self needs to retreat and rest. I believe, in our busy modern lives, that feels like ennui. The brain doesn’t know how else to make us stop except to pull the plug. The instinct and habit to create is there, but the conduit that gives it meaning is temporarily shut down.

When you have maker ennui, this is a good time to:

  • take a nap — sleep is healing.
  • read a book — something light and fun, unless you’d really rather that academic discourse on Georgian townhouse architecture. Who am I to judge?
  • learn something new — if you’re a knitter, try woodworking; if you’re a writer, try canning jam. Beginner mind is a beautiful thing.
  • deep clean your house or studio or office — this either fills you with dread or excitement; run with it.
  • spend time with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time — reconnect, stir up old ideas, make new ones.
  • get your hands dirty in the garden — whether it’s pulling weeds or planting flowers, soil is good for you. Don’t have a garden? Go help someone else with their yard.
  • move your furniture around or make a decor change. Hate your bedroom curtains? Now’s the time to freshen up!
  • cook and bake — stock up your freezer with homemade soup and bread. It’s great insurance against those days when you’re too wrapped up in your making to stop to cook.

Some people are cyclical in their making, gardening in the summer and quilting in the winter. Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s not ennui, but it just time to shift gears and sew a summer wardrobe.

Maker ennui can last hours, days, or even months. Go with the flow, try to determine what your body is telling you it needs, rather than feel frustrated. Your creativity and drive to make will return and you will have the energy to run with it if you let yourself rest.

How do you like to recharge?

Winter Break for Adults

Photo of a handknit cowl, in progress

You know how you have a break coming up and you get all excited because you’re going to have ALL THIS TIME?  If you’re a maker, like me, maybe you plan out a project or thirteen.  Go buy supplies.  Talk about it with friends.  Print out patterns and choose your project bags. Sharpen your pencils.

While you’re talking with your friends, you also make plans to have brunch and play a board game.  Or go see a movie.  Or go for a winter hike because it’s unseasonably warm.  And there are the day trips to see the extended family in various configurations.  And you have to clean your house before your family comes over for dinner that one night.  And then your family comes over and you drink too much and put music on the that party can with the light show and wake up sated with familial love and your house is trashed again.

Photo of handknit socks and cowl in progress

Suddenly Winter Break is almost over.  You’ve only knit four rows on one project and cast on another.  You pulled out all the scrapbooking supplies, but never got started.  You think longingly of your sewing machine and the leggings you were going to sew yourself. That plan to try crewel is going to have to wait.

You wonder if anyone else notices that you’re almost out of milk (which you don’t drink, but the other three humans do, and the dog if she can get away with it). The pile of dirty laundry is epic and suspiciously contains things you know a certain smaller person didn’t wear recently. And why are there hair ties, paper clips, candy wrappers, and pieces of the wreath on the floor, mixing with the dog hair?  Don’t the other humans know the magical vacuuming robot will DIE if it hoovers up those things?  And if it dies, then you might too? And then who will buy the milk and wash the underwear??

That’s when it happens.  You realize for the umpteenth time that “break” is not a vacation.  It is a break from routine.  And while maybe you need a day off here and there, a full two weeks of no routine is a special kind of hell for the person who works from home.

You love your children, but you can’t wait for them to go back to school.  (Not to mention your loving spouse, who is so much fun to have lunch with when it’s not leftovers in the kitchen full of things that need to be fixed and cleaned.) No one is excited about going back to the morning routine, especially in the depths of winter, but it is the gamut we work-from-home types must run to have our space to ourselves.

One day, about two weeks from now, you’ll kiss the wind-roughened cheeks of your children goodbye and watch them rustle off to school. You walk inside your home (your office, your sacred place), your mind on fire with projects.  Break is over and you have your space and your time back.  What will you make first?