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Unique classes during Fiber Arts Festival

It is time again for another popular tradition in Oxford, The Oxford Fiber Arts Festival, now in its sixth year, and happening this weekend at the Powerhouse.

This celebration of all things fiber is staged by Knit 1 Oxford, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and Visit Oxford.

The festival hours are a little different this year, with a reception this evening at 5:30 where the vendors will give out door prizes and teachers will promote their classes.

Immediately following the reception, there will be an artist lecture at the University Museum by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, “These are NOT your grandmother’s quilts: An Introduction to Quilts as Fine Art.” According to her “It’s a lighthearted, fast-paced digital lecture designed for people of all ages from 6-90 who have never before seen an art quilt.”

The market part of the festival will be open Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classes begin today and end with a special loom weaving class at Knit 1 on Sunday. Classes range from dyeing yarn with kool-aid to needle felting with all sorts of offerings in between.

The classes all have fees and you can check out the full schedule and registration information at http://www.knit1oxford.com/events/fiber-festival-classes/.

Even if you decide not to take a class, you can still participate. There is a children’s tent where fiber activities will entertain the children as well as live animals for them to pet and visit. This year there will be a special event led by pine needle artist Peggy Helms. She is offering an interactive project called the People’s Basket beginning on Friday morning. For $1 anyone (at any age), can help build the basket. The final product will be raffled to any who contribute, and all of the proceeds will go to YAC.

What a fun way to learn a new skill, be involved in a community effort and support our local arts council.

In addition to showing visitors how to make a community basket made of pine needles, Peggy Helms, who is also new to the festival, will lead a class on how to transform a gourd with pine needles.

There are several new teachers and vendors on the lineup this year including Tasha Bankhead, an Oxford resident who will be teaching how to crochet a purse, Katie Clark from Madison who will show how to crochet a hat in her Welcome Baby Beanie class, and Amelia Williams of Sit and Rock Quilt Shop who will be demonstrating how to make a scarf with denim and wool yarn in her class, “Embellish It!”

New vendors include a husband/wife team from Snow, Oklahoma. Scott Swendsen of Swendsen Wood Shoppe is a woodworker who specializes in wonderful children’s toys, particularly wooden puzzle animals, and Tracey of YeCart Pottery is a potter who creates beautiful ceramic mugs and other works of art in porcelain.

There also will be vendors selling yarn, looms, felted items, quilts, sewing machines, hand-sewn items, wooden items and all types of fiber related goods.

This is a family friendly event that is also fun for all ages. Admission is $1 to get in the door and class fees vary. Come and get your fiber fix.

ANDI BEDSWORTH is owner of Art To Go, which brings free art opportunities to children in the community.