Fiber, fellowship and walking fleece
Colorful fibers from all over are a highlight of the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair.
Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair
Expo Center at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 Peterson Road, Grayslake
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, June 22-24
Admission is $10 each day; $25 for all three days. Free admission for children 10 and under
Information or registration for workshops, visit www.fiberandfolk.com
Updated: June 19, 2012 7:31PM
Celebrating fiber and the folks who make art with it, the 2012 Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair returns to to the Lake County Fairgrounds Expo Center Friday through Sunday, June 22-24.
Everyone is welcome to this annual festival of knitting, spinning, weaving and other handcrafts, but the fair is also a mecca for fellowship among fiber artists in the region, and a source for demonstrations, workshops and supplies.
“We used to be isolated and now we have a community,” said fair president and founder Carol Cassidy-Fayer, explaining how one of the most modern of communications devices, the Internet, has fostered connections and today’s expanding interest in traditional fiber arts.
Cassidy-Fayer, who’s knit since she was 7, cited a survey by the Craft Yarn Council of America that saw a surge from 30 million practitioners in 2000 to 53 million in 2008.
Cassidy-Fayer launched the fair in 2007 to create an Illinois event similar to others she’d seen across the country. She drew upon her contacts from nearly a decade of running a business from her Algonquin home that fabricated and sold hand-spinning tools for yarn-making.
“I had experience with fairs from across the country and picked the best elements of each,” she said. “I tried to make this fair something different.”
Last year, the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair attracted 4,000 people. Among them was Sarah Iosue, owner of Mia Bella Yarn & Accessories in Highland Park. As an exhibitor at the fair’s extensive Vendor Marketplace of supplies, equipment and finished products, Iosue displayed locally dyed yarns and other spinning needs.
“I must have handed out 200 business cards to people who are near us but didn’t know we existed,” she said, adding that she looks forward to connecting with even more members of the growing fiber arts community at this year’s event. “It’s an amazing experience. It’s great to see people come out of the woodwork for this who don’t even live near a yarn shop. It’s like an old country fair with upscale fibers.”
Iosue hosts a weekly spinning group at her store and enjoys seeing newcomers take an interest in the craft.
Make your own
“It’s really cool and not as hard as it looks. People say why would you spin yarn when you can buy it? But that’s the same as asking why would you make sweater when you can buy one. It’s about the whole process of making something with your hands. It’s therapeutic.”
Indeed, beginners’ classes and fiber arts workshops for all levels are a major component of the fair. This year 21 nationally known fiber arts instructors will present 48 workshops on subjects such as knitting, spinning, felting, weaving, natural dyeing and basket making.
“It feels good to create something with your own two hands,” Cassidy-Fayer concurred. “You don’t have to study for years or have a master’s degree in what we do but it feels good.”
The fair will also feature fiber arts demonstrations, a Garment Extravaganza runway presentation on Saturday, live llamas and alpacas, a fleece judging competition and a vintage handbag exhibit. There will also be live music and ethnic food concessions.