Fiber Field Trip

My daughter and I went to Fiber Festival.

Each year at the end of August, the Michigan Fiber Festival is held at the Allegan County Fair Grounds. Fiber comes from furry animals and is used in a variety of crafts. Sheep by far are the stars of the show, but rabbits, alpacas and other animals are also included. The festival lasts for five days with full day, half day and mini workshops offered on four of the days and vendors from around the world on three days.

Workshops in knitting, crocheting, weaving, felting, dying, basket making and soap making were offered. My daughter and I each signed up for two different full-day workshops.

1. Wet Felting

My favorite workshop was using wet-felting techniques to create a wall hanging. Beginning with a pre-shrunk length of fabric, we added bobbles, yarn, ridges, and voids to our sheet before soaking it with soapy water and agitating it to make it stick together and shrink.

In this class each student started with a blank canvas and created unique designs. Everyone's wall hanging turned out vastly different. The commonality was the various techniques used to create the designs. Because of the free flow and creativity offered by this class I was immediately hooked with the craft. (It was the first time I ever wet felted.)

2. Braided Rug

By braiding together lengths of clean fiber, felting them in a washing machine cycle with hot water and cold rinse and then sewing them into a circle we created rugs. This technique results in beautiful rugs that will last a lifetime. The complete technique is explained in the teachers book The Shephard's Rug.

3. Dying the Shibori Way
Dying the Shibori way is like advanced tie dye. Instead of just using rubber bands to create designs in fabric dipped into different dye baths, the Shibori method uses stitches. To create her chicken my daughter sketched her design and then used various stitches which included sewing lentils and beans into the fabric before dying. After dying all the stitching was removed.

4. Rug Hooking

This sheep was created from a kit supplied by the teacher. While my daughter enjoyed the class, she said the technique could have been easily learned with a book. There are many on Amazon.

Fiber festival is not a typical school field trip, but when you encourage your children's interests nothing really is typical. We can't wait to return next year and my 9 year old daughter is looking forward to her first class at fiber festival as well.

Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas. 

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