Delaware River Basin Fiber Arts

Although it was just as drizzly at Fort Delaware’s Fiber Festival  yesterday as it was  everywhere else in the Upper Delaware River Basin, during the three hours I  was there,  I didn’t hear a single comment about the weather until a slurp of water dripped down a guy line  into one of the tents and  splashed  one of Laurie Stuart’s lovely and fanciful  felted baskets.

To spend an  afternoon with  locally-produced fibers &  rovings,  spinners, weavers and the needleworkers who turn the threads and yarns into quilts,  tea cozies, scarves, Santa Claus sculptures, Temari ornaments and sweaters is sweet  bliss.  It’s not just the seductive softness of the alpaca and sheep wools or the colors and beauty of the finished products — the atmosphere reminds me of the camaraderie down at Mayhew’s Feed & Grain and  around the maple sap evaporator when I was a kid growing up in Ohio.

Dye buckets  filled with   yarn and rovings bubbled and boiled outside Gillingham’s Wild Root Farm tent and  a rack inside was draped with bundles trying to dry.  I brought home  a beautiful skein of Amy’s  Icelandic Roving  which now fills  my kitchen with the scent of  rich organic dyes.  (It’s nearly impossible to ignore either it or the thought of digging my needles into as I  write this article.  The benefit to you is that this will be one of the shortest I’ve ever written.)

I’ve been crocheting since I was ten  but Grandma  despaired I’d ever learn to manipulate two knitting needles.   It wasn’t until last winter that I finally taught myself using Stitch & Bitch which a  needleworker  friend bought me at  the 4Corners Knitting Store on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY.   It was in Dale and Wendy’s store that I also  discovered the joy of bamboo fiber and whiled away the early afternoon searching through patterns and fingering their amazing variety of other yarns.

A stop by  a  display of  fabric caps lead to a long and delightful natter with the proprietors of  “The Variety Show,” a  nifty shop in Port Jervis that offers handmade, reversible caps made of antique fabrics.

The Damascus Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild was located  near the Fort entrance but I left a visit with them till the very last.  (If you’ve  been following our  progress at  CottageWorks as we build a site devoted to the handcrafted arts, artisans and culture of  The Delaware River Basin,  you know my most recent knitting projects have been crafted using the Guild’s fibers.   A few months ago, when I showed up late to their  annual sale (on a rainy day, of course)   they sent me home  with four garbage bags filled with everything from chenilles to thick homespun and the finest threads.)  When I finally made my way past the Fort  to the tent where the Guild was chatting, spinning and knitting,  I started to re-introduce myself but they didn’t need the reminder.  “We remember  you,” one  woman chortled.  “Boy!  We sure were glad to see you stuffin’ all our  bags into the back seat of that car of yours!”

No more than I!

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