BOUCKVILLE, NY — Paulie Drexler’s Springside Farm sign exclaiming, “Life is too short to knit with bad yarn” brought smiles to a record crowd attending the 7th annual Central New York Fiber Arts Festival. And why would you settle for inferiority, with all the diverse choices of natural fiber products from a variety of wooly animals? With over 100 exhibits, workshops and vendors showcasing angora goats, rabbits, alpacas, sheep and even hair from a happy, summer-clipped Akbash guardian dog, there was enough “Mo-hair” for everyone.
The Central New York (CNY) Fiber Artists and Producers, Inc. who organized this event to support the efforts of individual fiber farmers and artists in the region led by president and founding member, Pam Haendle, deemed “all things spinning” as this year’s focus. Throughout the grounds, guests could take a spin on wheels at the “wheel corral” with help from seasoned spinners to learn this legacy art and practical craft.
Daily short courses included: preparing fleeces, introduction to spinning, basic wheel maintenance, spinning silk, working with mohair and loom weaving. Guest speaker, Pamella Wood, from the Home Textile Museum spoke on “All things flax.” Garry Aney from the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown and Barb and Clint Fudge from Erin, NY gave lectures on the historical insight of textiles in a bygone era and how the industry has changed with an emphasis on the strength of the burgeoning local craft again.
Visitors witnessed the imagination and multiplicity from hard-working fiber artists ranging from traditional outer-ware to children’s dolls and ornate colored felt vessels. In addition, guests could search for unique gifts, buy raw fiber materials and equipment, consider a fiber animal to raise or just enjoy a family outing with food and music.
“We sought to foster participation in and appreciation of the fiber arts as well as an understanding of the connection between fiber animals and the artistry they inspire. Interest in what we are doing as a group is picking up as more and more small farms continue to prosper,” said Haendle who also runs Hermit Pond Farm in Brookfield, NY. “Folks appreciate this weekend as a good place for a family to learn the history and skill of spinning. It’s a great way to relax and make something warm and memorable.”
To learn more about this regional heritage industry from animals to art; visit www.cnyfiber.org