Friday, April 24, 2015

Stitch Together: Learning from Older Generations

Stitch Together - &Stitches

In my efforts to improve and expand my embroidery and fiber art skills, I have found myself looking to previous generations to learn from their experience. These are stitchers who have been working with fiber arts for decades and have so much to share. However, it can be difficult to connect with these older fiber arts aficionados since they don't show up very often among my peer group or internet connections.

I have found a few great ways to find some of these older ladies and gents, though, through groups and events that you can likely find in your own areas.

The first place to look is your local fiber festivals. If you've never been to a fiber festival, you're in for a treat. These events generally take place in the summer and are a place to connect with pretty much every level of the fiber arts community. You'll find vendors of all sorts of fibery goods, livestock farmers with every fiber animal you could imagine (goats, rabbits, alpacas, sheep, and more!), and fiber arts groups looking for new members. It is through these fiber arts groups that I have been able to find quite a few extremely skilled and experienced stitchers from the previous generation.

Another resource is the state or county fair. This is a place where you'll find many of the same groups as the fiber festival, but with much more. The benefit here is that there is something at a state fair for everyone, so you can take along not-so-fiber-obsessed friends and family. For instance, while I gabbed away with the Portland Lace Society, my beekeeping boyfriend had a long chat with the Portland Beekeepers Club, so we each found something that interested us.

The last place I have looked for experienced stitches is the Society for Creative Anachronism. For the uninitiated, the SCA is an international club of Medieval historical reenactors with local guilds for virtually any artisanal craft you can imagine, including, of course, lots of fiber arts. This group spans many generations, so you're bound to find many experienced and dedicated stitchers in your local branch (and learn a new craft or two while you're at it).

I'd also like to share a couple of groups I have found for any of our Oregon-based readers. These organizations are full of wonderful people who have been very generous with their depth of knowledge.

Damascus Fiber Arts School: This is a resource for classes in all sorts of interesting fiber arts, many of which I hadn't even heard of before meeting this group.

Portland Lace Society: This group isn't specific to embroidery, but these ladies really know their stuff in a whole range of fiber arts, including lots of stitching.

I hope this inspires you to get out and meet some of the experienced older generations of stitchers in your community!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

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