Sunday, April 09, 2006

Michigan Fiber Festival, Allegan Michigan

By Christina VanGinkel

Every spring, I receive a copy of the Fiberline Magazine, an advertisement of sorts for the Michigan Fiber Festival Inc., held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds, in Allegan, Michigan. It is open to the public, and is a five day event filled with workshops on a variety of fiber crafts, including knitting, shuttle tatting, bead and button crafts, spinning, weaving, and many more crafts. The goal of the Michigan Fiber Festival Inc., is listed on the inside of the magazine, and is to promote the interests of individuals and or businesses related to natural fiber, to advance and continue high quality standards of business practice in the natural fiber area, and to further the development and knowledge within the fiber community. Their goal goes on to state that they are an all volunteer membership organization, and after looking through the classes and workshops being offered this year, all I could think again, as I do each year, was Wow!

To start with, if you are interested at all in any fiber arts, and then some, landing a copy of this free magazine is excitement in itself. It is full of ads that can point you in the directions you need to get in contact with the many small farms and businesses around the Michigan area that make available the products and supplies needed to participate in many of the related fiber crafts and hobbies that so many people do. The current copy of the magazine also has articles on issues such as natural dyeing, Alpaca fiber, Icelandic sheep facts, a pattern for socks, a pattern for a bias knit lace scarf, book reviews, and much, much more. One article that I found both entertaining and informative was "Thoughts to Ruminate on for Shearing Day", by Rita Walters with footnotes by Jerry Pepper (the shearer).

There is also information on camping at the five-day event, and obtaining daily passes. If you would rather stay at a local hotel for your lodging, instead of roughing it while camping, the magazine also includes a well rounded list of area lodging choices, including Bead and Breakfast's, hotels, and motels. There are several located in Allegan, Fennville, Kalamazoo, Holland, and a few further out in Plainwell, and at the Byron Center, which is about twenty-five miles out from the location of the festival. A listing of all of the workshops is included towards the back of the magazine, much fiber themed, but not all of them, with detailed descriptions are also included. There is also detailed information about the many displays and competitions, such as the Angora Fleece competition, the Angora Rabbit Skein competition, an Angora Rabbit show, Fiber Goat shows, Fine Arts and Photography competition, and several mini workshops, free demonstrations, and talks. A sampling of the classes, but by no means inclusive of them all includes:

Introduction to Lace
Felt for Hands and Feet
Beautiful Boucles-Plying Against a Thread
Buttons and Beads Polymer Clay
Acid Dyeing
Natural Dyeing
Basic Locker Hooking
Shaker Tape Tote Bag, Basket Weaving
Beginner Weaving
Inkle Weaving
Peg Knitting
Primitive Rug Hooking
Absolute Beginning Knitting
Making Glass Beads

The event is also host to a couple children's workshops for ages eight and up, including Kool-Aid Dyed Friendship Bracelets, and Basket Flower Vase.

The magazine includes information on the cost, registration process, and any materials you will need to bring for both the adult and children's classes and workshops.

I was first introduced to the Michigan Fiber Festival Inc., event through the Marr Haven Wool Farm, some ten or so years back, when I was in need of wool roving to fashion several, handcrafted Mandela's. They also have what I consider the finest Merino- Rambouillet wool yarn, and as a crocheter, I would recommend it for any high quality item you would care to knit or crochet. It is 100% chemical free, available is some stunning colors, and in this day and age, those facts alone are major milestones that identify the quality of their product.

If the fiber arts are a hobby you enjoy, be sure to check out this all-inclusive festival. It has a lot to offer both the experienced and the newly introduced to the world of fiber arts.

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