. Celebrating Historical Fiber Arts in Maine

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Celebrating Historical Fiber Arts in Maine

Category: events

As I mentioned last week, I had a little adventure/vacation as a participant in an archaeological dig in Damariscotta. There were indeed no golden idols nor Nazis, but there were many pieces of ceramics, and a fair number of diabolical biting flies. One of the coolest finds was a button with a copper shank, complete with a scrap of thread still in place. But while I was geeking out over 18th century items, archaeologists in England discovered a ball of thread from 3,000 years ago! They’ve also just posted a photo of a bobbin still wound with thread from the same site at Must Farm.

Photo credit: Must Farm Archaeology

3,000 year old thread! Photo credit: Must Farm Archaeology

Clearly, it’s a great time for historical fiber arts around the world, and Maine is a good place to be. This weekend is the Annual Open House at Bartlettyarns in Harmony. Friday and Saturday, August 5 & 6, visitors can tour the mill and check out the spinning mule, one of the last of its kind. We carry yarn and roving from Bartlettyarns, and love them for their classic strength, and beautiful colors, and the fact that they’re made right here in Maine. I will have to wait till next year to attend the open house, but you should go this year and tell me all about it! (Take photos!)

The Waldoborough Historical Society is also getting in on the fiber action this month, hosting a Rug Hooking Demonstration. Waldoboro (the modern spelling of my hometown’s name) used to be known for beautiful hooked rugs, and Kathie Hills will be doing a demo on August 28th at 1 pm. The Historical Society Museum is definitely worth a visit — it’s located right by Moody’s Diner (itself a piece of Waldoboro history), and includes the old stone animal pound where they used to corral loose farm animals until their owners could come claim them. The museum is free to the public, and the collection also contains locally made quilts and cross stitched items.

I love that fiber arts have such wonderful historic roots, going back thousands of years. It always boggles my mind when I’m doing a complicated cable or stitch pattern and I pause to realize that someone, decades or centuries ago, was knitting away and thought, “I wonder what happens if I do this?” — and behold, a gorgeous cable! As a history nerd, it warms my heart to know that thousands of pairs of hands throughout time have done exactly what mine are doing when I cast on for a cozy hat. The tradition and history behind knitting definitely factors into my enjoyment of the craft, and when Maine winters are long and cold (unlike last winter), I imagine the ghosts of Maine women of yore, knitting right alongside me by the woodstove. May society never “advance” so far as to lose our fiber arts traditions!

Classes, classes and more classes? We’ve got your back!

Category: events

We’ve been looking through the results from our survey and have seen some interesting comments.  Since we’re always interested in feedback about how we can do better, we’re also thinking of ways we can follow the advice we’ve gotten through the survey.  At the same time, we’re realizing that asking questions about how we can communicate better are giving us results about how much we’re not effectively communicating now.  We had a lot of requests to start doing things that we’re already doing.  That lets us know that we need to do a better job of letting everyone know what’s going on. 

We had several respondents say that they would like more beginner classes, more, technique classes, more design classes, more free classes, more classes.  I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know what we’re already doing and what we’re going to be doing starting right now.

Pot O Gold

Our weekly newsletter is the best way to keep track of what’s going on at OTR.

For the downright beginner, we have a “Learn to Knit 5 Minute Guarantee” lesson that can be scheduled any time Mim is in the shop.  It takes a little bit longer than 5 minutes to learn to knit, purl, cast on and bind off.  That’s why we have Drop In Class every Monday and Thursday evening from 5-7 pm.  You can come in with any question, project, goal, or agenda and we’ll tailor instruction just for you.  We have so few people taking advantage of this time that you may be the only one there.  That means you get 2 hours of instruction all to yourself or maybe with one or two other people, then you can segue right in to Stitch and Spin night until 8:30.

If the Monday and Thursday evening time slots absolutely don’t work for you, we offer 15 Minute Mini-Classes any time you care to schedule one.  These Mini-Classes are also tailored to you personally and cover anything you want to cover.  The only requirement is that we be open and there be two people here in the shop (that way, one person can devote all their attention to you and the other can help other customers.)  From beginner basics all the way through to the most complex, advanced technique, you name it and we’ll teach it in one or more sessions.

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Our comfy chairs up front get a lot of use during classes, social groups and spontaneous knitting time.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the absolute basics, we offer Technique Classes almost every Saturday from 2-4.  There are single topic classes and series, there are project-based classes and classes that cover techniques only.  The more popular the topic, or the more important we think it is for you to learn it, the more frequently we offer a class.  For example, “Be The Boss of Your Socks” is offered at least three times a year because there are always more people who want to learn to make socks, and “Finishing School” comes around on the calendar at least three times a year because we think everyone can benefit from some attention to washing, blocking, and seaming.  We let you know what’s coming up for classes on our Events page here on the website, the Events page on our Facebook page, through the newsletter, with in-store signage and through community bulletin boards.

If we offer classes and no one comes, we assume the topic is of no interest and shuffle it to the bottom of our idea pile.  We’re always willing to expand our offerings or bring things back from the discard pile if there is interest.  In fact, most of our class ideas come from customer comments in the store.  You can tell us what you want through comments here on the website, or comments on our Facebook page, or in the shop. In addition we’ll be offering a paper evaluation form at each of our classes from now on, and one of the questions on that form will be, “What other classes would you like to take at OTR?”

Want to learn to make polymer clay buttons?

Want to learn to make polymer clay buttons?

We’ll also schedule a formal two-hour private class on any topic you like at any time you like if you and four friends want to come together.  Teens, retirees, families, veterans or circus performers who want to knit their own leotards, we’ll create a class just for you on any topic you like as long as there are five of you.  Call the shop or drop by and we’ll discuss the details and schedule your own private yarn party.

Because several people have asked, we’ll be offering Tuesday evening classes as well starting next week.  Beginner Lace will be February 9, 5:30-7:30 and Traveling Stitches will be February 23, 5:30-7:30.  In March, we’ll be offering “Finishing School” on March 1, 5:30-7:30, and “Be The Boss of Your Socks” on March 15, 5:30-7:30.  If those classes are well attended, we’ll expand the offerings. 

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We offer 12 original free patterns with free instruction for 12 weeks of every year.

In addition to formal classes, we offer The 12 Weeks of Christmas small project knit-alongs from the first week in October through the middle of December.  The patterns are free and so is the instruction.  We only ask that you buy your yarn from us as we’ve designed the projects around specific yarns.  Many weeks during the season we have no one there.  This leads us to think that there is no interest.  But I promise, if folks really want to show up, we’d be willing to expand 12 Weeks of Christmas to 12 Month of  Christmas with small project knit-alongs, free patterns and free instruction if you get your yarn at OTR.  Get back to me on when would be a good time to start and how many of you are willing to be here.

If you just want to be around other knitters to ask and answer questions in a social setting, we have Stitch and Spin circles on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-8:30 pm, Wendesday morning from 10 am-Noon, and a new group that has spontaneously started coming on Thursday starting at Noon-ish.  You can come in at any of those times and be assured of lots of companionship and support.  Or the comfy chairs are always here, and the staff is always willing, so you can come in and just sit and knit a spell and ask quick questions on the fly whenever you have the time and feel inspired.

For those of you who live far away and can’t make it in, we are looking into webinar formats to be able to offer online classes.  We’ll be getting our first on-line class up and running by the end of March.  Watch the Events pages for times and details.

Daniel_Winding_Yarn

A customer winds his yarn into a ball at Over the Rainbow Yarn.

As a side note, we had several men comment that they felt awkward or unwelcome being the only guy around.  Notice I said “several men?”  Well, there are more of you than you think, and if only one or two of you would come hang out, the others would no longer feel like they are the only ones.  Paul?  Daniel?  Cliff?  Steven?  Chris and Cooper?  Bill?  Any of you want to sponsor a manly contingent and give the other guys permission to come out of the shadows?

We consider ourselves fiber evangelists.  We want to do whatever it takes for you to start, commit to, or sustain a fiber lifestyle.  If you have a idea that we are not already doing, please let me know and we’ll bend over backwards to fulfill your fiber dreams.