Come play with fiber arts!

Jodie Gerard, Sheril Jager Moore, Julie Renzema, Susan Chapman and Holly Jensen attending a monthly meeting.

At Harvest Fest a few years ago, a young girl saw Lisa Beams spinning and asked her, ‘Can I play that game?’ Lisa feels that playfulness captures the essence of their group.

Alisha Siebers, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

Jodie Gerard read about a drop spindle in a mystery novel. She was intrigued by the idea of spinning her own yarn. Her husband gave her a spindle for her birthday, but she didn’t know how to use it.

Enter the friendly folks at South County Fiber Arts, a part of the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. Jodie called them and they told her, “Come over – we can get you started.” Jodie was hooked; a month later she owned a spinning wheel, and today, five years later, she’s experimented with a wide range of fiber arts – preparing fleece to spin, spinning to make yarn, knitting with the yarn, weaving to create fabric and felting. Jodie explains that there are “endless possibilities of fibers, colors, and textures – and that’s just in making the yarn and felt. There are so many possibilities to being creative.”

The fiber arts are some of the most accessible, with something new to explore for people at all different levels. South County Fiber Arts members range from beginners to some who have been spinning for decades, all learning and solving creative challenges together. Sewing, knitting, and spinning circles have always had a social aspect, and the same tradition continues in our back yard. There’s a generosity and kindness in this group. They chat, bounce ideas off each other, and share their joys and sorrows, brainstorming together – about both their art and their lives.

The group experiments with reviving old-world crafts. Members have re-created ancient processes for creating hand-made decorative and functional objects. They’ve cleaned fleece by soaking it in a fermenting bath, have spun with drop spindles and with spinning wheels, and have recently been experimenting with a type of Scandinavian needle binding that pre-dates knitting called nälbinding. They are up for anything, including teaching kids how to make felt by beating the fiber with pool noodles and how to dye fabric with Kool-Aid. Lisa Beams, one of the organizers of the group, believes that there is something about fiber arts that is incredibly meditative. She explains, “You don’t need a fidget spinner when you can knit.” She finds that knitting helps her concentrate during meetings, and she even can knit and read at the same time!

At Harvest Fest a few years ago, a young girl saw Lisa spinning and asked her “Can I play that game?” Lisa feels that playfulness captures the essence of their group. You don’t need to be an expert to try fiber arts – just dive in and have fun. You’re welcome to come find out for yourself! When the weather is good, you can join them under the Pavilion at 300 N. Richardson, Vicksburg, on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. If you have questions, contact me at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center: Alisha@vicksburgarts.com.

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