Along with my husband, Mike, I am a native of Watauga County. We have two children, Cole and Ivy. We are fortunate to live and work on part of the farm that has been in my family for over a century.
Being raised on this farm, which lies along the “old Buffalo Trail”, I have seen many changes from farming with horses to farming by only a few families. Seeing families leave their farms has made me aware of how precious the “old ways” are and how fast they are being lost: not only the loss of farming but also the loss of handicrafts.
Weaving was my first experience with the fiber arts. As a child, seeing two of my aunts working on looms at my grandparent’s home, I was fascinated. Knitting came next, having a grandmother who helped me begin knitting and also having a sixth grade teacher who patiently taught everyone in her classes to knit.
Years later, volunteering with Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, was my first encounter with weaving on my own. Soon after, a neighbor gifted me with an old barn loom. After research and help from friends, I began weaving rugs and scarves on the old loom. Over the years I have collected several looms and have woven blankets, coverlets, fabrics, dolls, bags and a variety of other textiles. Spinning came later with a one day workshop and lots of practice. Dyeing fibers soon followed. Felt making and needle felting are the most recent handcrafts to interest me. Over the past few years, I have led felting workshops in classrooms, at guild meetings, for church groups, and lifelong learners making hats, bags, flowers, ornaments, scarves and rugs.
For thirty years, I have had the opportunity to work with children and adults at museums, heritage day events, fairs, in classrooms, after-school programs, and workshops. I am a member of the Blue Ridge Fiber Guild, a Blue Ridge National Heritage Area traditional artist and also a member of Bethany Lutheran Church, which started a fiber ministry in early 2011. I have been involved with the Florence Thomas Art School, since early 2011. I am a member of Hands Cooperative Gallery and also a member of the “Village of Yesteryear” at the North Carolina State Fair where I demonstrate felt making.
Hopefully through demonstrating these fiber skills from the past, some of the participants have gone home to ask about their own families “old ways”.