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Sherri Richards, Published August 06 2012

Festival gets to the roots of fiber arts

If you go

What: Fiber Arts Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Rheault Farm, 2902 25th St. S., Fargo

Admission: Free

Online: www.fiberartsfest.com

FARGO – Between the wheat weaving and sheep shearing, the agricultural roots of fiber arts will be easy to see and feel at this weekend’s Fiber Arts Festival.

Kim Baird, artistic director for the festival, says many attendees of the annual event are fascinated that they could make their own yarn from freshly shorn sheep’s wool. Some are amazed to learn linen is made from flax.

“We seem to have lost that connection between animal and land husbandry and the clothing we wear,” she says.

While the festival is an opportunity to reconnect with ancient practices like spinning, weaving and naalbinding, it also can be an introduction to what’s new in fiber arts. For example, one vendor will sell yarn made from corn proteins, Baird says.

This fifth annual event will be the second at Fargo’s Rheault Farm. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend, says Allison Bakke, event coordinator with the Fargo Park District.

Baird says the event appeals to all ages because it covers so many techniques and topics.

“There are a lot of things you can do with yarn and fabric,” Baird says. “We wear it, sit on it, we live in it sometimes. There are so many possibilities, so a lot of people have hobbies related to yarn and fabric.”

On Saturday, two teams will weave shawls starting from a pile of wool in the annual Sheep to Shawl competition. There will also be a fashion show at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for the statewide Make It With Wool Contest.

Caryl Tamte will demonstrate wheat weaving, the braiding of grain stalks and beards into decorative items. Other highlights of the festival include a potholder display featuring hundreds of vintage, crocheted potholders, a community cloth that anyone can embroider, and hands-on felting, origami, braiding and more.

Two food vendors will be on hand for the weekend, as well as 16 fiber vendors, selling wares like garments, yarn and crafting supplies, Bakke says.

Sunday’s lineup includes a Fiber Frenzy rummage sale, a new event. About a dozen people will sell their leftover or unwanted yarn, equipment, patterns and other supplies. Baird says the sale is a good opportunity for people who may want to try a new craft but don’t want to spend a lot of money to get started.

“People need to create things. Some people create beautiful gardens and some people create computer programs. And some of us in our daily lives, we don’t get to create a lot, but in our hobbies we do create things,” Baird says.

“When you work in fiber and fabrics, you can create heirlooms,” she adds. “It’s satisfying from that point of view.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556