For many of us our earliest memories involve fiber in one way or another. We had a favorite blanket grandma crocheted or a quilt an aunt made. Even if it disintegrated into rags years ago, we remember that really cool t-shirt we got the first time we saw our favorite band. With the library’s help, you can learn new skills to create fiber projects for your favorite people and for yourself too!
If it comes from a plant, odds are someone somewhere has tried to make it into paper. Paper can be made from the inner bark of trees, the leaves of plants, and from grasses and seeds. Papermaking with Garden Plants & Common Weeds is a great resource for making paper from just about anything that grows. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Fabric from plant fibers is familiar to all of us, from our favorite cotton band t-shirt to the warm quilt on our sofa. With the variety of colors and patterns available, there’s sure to be a cotton fabric that’s just right for your project.
With more crafters looking for eco-friendly options, knitters can buy yarn made from bamboo, hemp and soy “silk” that is made from the waste products of soybean processing. If you want to try out some of these unusual new yarns, books like One Skein Wonders can help you actually make something with it.
Like plant fibers, fibers sourced from animals have been used for weaving and knitting for thousands of years. Common yarns are wool spun from the fleece of sheep, llamas and alpacas, and silk from silkworms.
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook has information on more than 200 animals whose fleece can be spun into yarn, including bison and yaks. Wouldn’t your favorite person be surprised if you gifted them a scarf crocheted with yak yarn?
The 20th-century brought us fibers are made through chemical processes. Nylon was developed as a cheaper alternative to silk and polyester thread is great for sewing because of its strength. The squeaky, scratchy acrylic yarns my grandma crocheted with have been replaced by yarns that are much softer while still durable.
The library has a variety of arts & crafts kits that come with enough materials to try out a craft. You can learn something new without spending money on a bunch of supplies you might never use again. Check out kits on embroidery, cross-stitch, wet felting, knitting, crochet and macramé.
We have tons of books and DVDs on all types of fiber crafts. Whether you’re just starting out or are an accomplished fiber artist, there’s always something new to learn.
With your library card you also have access to hundreds of Creativebug videos. Classes range from less than 10 minutes to several hours, depending on the complexity of the project. There is something for every skill level from beginner to expert and they are all taught by professional artists and designers.
While you can learn a new craft by reading books and watching videos, sometimes you really need a knowledgeable human being to help you in person. We’re lucky to have several fiber-related craft guilds in Topeka.
I’ve found these groups to be really welcoming to people who are interested in learning new skills. While many of the guilds have suspended in-person meetings for now, you can contact them to to find out the latest. Emails and phone numbers are included in the link above.
October is Fiber Month!
In a normal year we would have invited these guilds to our annual Fiber Fair. Since this isn’t a normal year we’ve had to switch things up a bit. We’re going to celebrate fiber during the whole month of October!
We’ll be giving out free craft packs every week that include all the materials you need to make a small project. You can pick them up at the Customer Service desk or at Curbside pickup while supplies last.
Weekly craft packs:
- Wet felting – October 5-11
- Cross-stitch – October 12-18
- Hand sewing – October 19-25
- Crochet – October 26 – November 1
Crafting Is Good for You
Making things with your hands is a great way to focus your mind on something other than the state of the world right now. It’s easy to lose an hour or two learning a complicated new embroidery stitch and creating something beautiful with it.
Turn off your phone! I do my best creative work when I’m unplugged and away from a clock. So grab a couple of craft books and DVDs from the library and try a new fiber craft. You just might get hooked, especially on crochet since you’ll need a hook (bad joke, sorry!).