Getting Started in Fibre Arts and Crafts
Whether you’re interested in rug hooking, felting, weaving, spinning, knitting or crocheting, there are locally produced fibres you can use to create beauty. Not all fibre types are suitable for each craft. Read our brief descriptions below, and then search the fibre producers’ directory to learn where you can find the fibre you need. A good place to learn more about each of these crafts, purchase supplies or finished products, and celebrate fibre arts in our province is at the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, held in Amherst in October each year.
Fibre CraftRug Hooking
Nova Scotia has a long and proud tradition of rug hooking. The Hooked Rug Museum of North America is located in Hubbards and Les Trois Pignons Cultural Centre in Cheticamp also features a collection of Acadian hooked rugs.
Rug hookers use strips cut from woven wool fabric, which is not produced locally. However, rug hookers also sometimes use wool roving, which is available locally. You may also be able to source a backing woven from local linen. Check the fibre producers’ directory to locate a supplier.
If you’re interested in learning more about rug hooking, visit http://hookingrugs.com/.
Fibre CraftKnitting and Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting are relaxing hobbies that can be either individual or social pursuits. Libraries, community groups and yarn stores across the province hold regular drop-in knitting groups where new knitters can learn from more experienced knitters and everyone can compare yarns and patterns.
Most local sheep breeds produce a medium-coarse wool that is not preferred by most people for knitted garments worn next to the skin. A notable exception is alpaca, which is soft, warm, and lightweight. Yarn made from local wool can make warm and durable household items (like blankets, pillows, and toys) and articles where softness is not so crucial, like hats, mittens and slippers.
If you’re interested in learning to knit or crochet, this site is a good place to start: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/learn-home.htmlLearn More...
Hand weaving is done all over the world with many different weaving tools and arrangements aiding in the interlacement of yarns which then turn into cloth, straps, fabrics, and bands.
Weaving is intellectually stimulating and a physical challenge which when overcome will help you stay warm and cozy, either under blankets, in thick deliciously warm clothes or fancy slinky evening wear. You choose the right fibre for the cloth you fancy.
Weaving is all around us though the actually process from fibre to yarn (spinning) to cloth (weaving) is seldom thought about these days.
Weaving is fun, time consuming and a topic so wide and so deep you could study it for a lifetime or more without running out of new places to go. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design offers introductory, intermediate and advanced level courses in weaving, and is a good place to start learning more about this traditional craft. http://www.craft-design.ns.ca/course/22-introduction-weaving
Fibre CraftHand Spinning
Spinning is the process of pulling out fibres and adding
twist, a very simple process with a world of variation. All it takes is fluff,
a spindle or wheel, and patience. As you sit and spin you are following in the
footsteps of all the generations of spinners that have come before. We no longer need to spin our own yarn, but
the wonderful thing is that we can.
The world is full of exciting, exotic fibres from lustrous,
smooth silk to soft, buttery cashmere. All of these fibres make beautiful,
useful yarns, but wool is the easiest fibre to spin and the best one to learn
To learn more about spinning, visit the Atlantic Spinners
and handweavers site: http://ashguild.ca/home/web-links/yarn
Felting is the process of tangling and compacting fibre together to create a dense mass. This can be done use water and friction, or using needles. Different sheep breeds can produce wool with different abilities to either needle felt or wet felt, so make sure that you’re getting the right wool for your intended end use.
To learn more about felting, visit this site: http://www.feltalive.com/links.htm
One other fibre/wool option is tanning. In the beginning stages, timing and care are critical, particularly in warm conditions, so the pelt does not begin to spoil and lose wool (= “slippage”).
Tanning is not easily described and shown in a small paragraph with a couple of pictures! When people have asked me about it, I like to start out by saying that tanning a lambskin is not like baking a cake, mix a few ingredients together, put them in a barrel with a skin and after an hour out comes a completely finished skin, like you might see for sale at a wool shop!
The Alum & Salt method credit, to Sheep Canada magazine. The page is from Sheep Canada magazine, Spring, 2016, Vol. 31, No. 1.