Exploring Local History Through Textiles

Common Thread: Exploring Local Industrial History Through the Lens of Silk

Discover Northampton’s silk history via this handpainted silk quilt displayed at the Neilson Library at Smith College in Northampton, MA, one of many community-based resources to support an interest in local history and textiles. For a virtual tour, click on the quilt.

Once upon a time, the Pioneer Valley’s mills bustled with activity, producing all sorts of goods and providing a boost to the local economy. Today, many of these mills are filled with offices, art studios, and spacious high-ceiling apartments.

Despite the creative reuse of such industrial spaces, the area’s ties to industries of the past can easily be explored. In particular, the Pioneer Valley’s connection to the textile industry can be studied through self-guided explorations, museum visits, tree identification and hands-on learning opportunities taking place during the next few months. Read the rest of this entry »

Learn About Fiber Art & Industry at the Fiber Festival of New England

Third Annual Fiber Festival of New England
November 3rd & 4th in West Springfield, MA

Want to learn more about fiber crafting? Attend one of the workshops held during the Fiber Festival, including Beginner Rug Hooking, Fancy Felted Soaps and Needle Felted Sheep.

It’s going to be a fleece and fiber bonanza at the 3rd annual Fiber Festival of New England on November 3rd & 4th, 2012 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA!

The festival features fiber of all varieties and will host demonstrations, fun activities, and learning opportunities for families. Those interested in expanding their understanding of fiber art and industry can watch demonstrations of spinning and weaving (which will produce a colorful coat by the end of the festival!), or sign up for a fiber art workshops – topics for which include rug hooking for beginners, and creating needle-felted scarves.

The show offers an educational component for visitors to learn how animals contribute to the fiber industry through live displays of llamas, alpacas, sheep, rabbits and goats.

The festival also offers an educational component for families to learn how animals contribute to the fiber industry through live displays of llamas, alpacas, sheep, rabbits and goats. After learning about the animals, families can learn a bit about the history of fiber arts and traditional uses for fiber too! Volunteers from Storrowton Village will hold workshops to demonstrate proper use of fiber tools new and old, such as bat heads and clock reels.  Curious families can bring any mystery fiber tools they may have to be identified by the historians, too!

The festival is a fun event for kids to learn about the many ways to use fiber as a creative medium, and can provide students with an introduction to types of farms and farming that don’t involve food production— and parents can get a jump start to their holiday shopping with more than 200 vendors showcasing their handmade wares!

The festival will be held in the Mallary Complex at the Big E in West Springfield on Nov 3rd & 4th, 2012. Show hours are Saturday, 9am-5pm, and Sunday, 9am-3pm.  Admission to the Fiber Festival of New England is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under. For more information visit FiberFestival.org.

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