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Ninth Annual Oxford Fiber Arts Festival begins this week

Knitting might be considered a craft from days gone by that someone’s grandmother would do to pass the time while sitting on her front porch. However, for the past nine years, Oxford has tried to keep the art form alive.

In conjunction with the University Museum on the campus of Ole Miss, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council created the Oxford Fiber Arts Festival. This week will be the ninth edition of the annual event, which was formed with the hopes to create coordinated exhibits that would reach beyond the museum walls and into the community.

“It’s something that is really growing,” YAC executive director Wayne Andrews said of the festival. “It’s something that relates back to Mississippi’s agricultural heritage but it also shows how we’re taking all of that and making it very contemporary.”

The inaugural festival began in 2011 when YAC and the museum focused on an upcoming exhibit Gees Bends Quilts, identifying community partners in local quilters guild and Knit1, Oxford’s curated fiber shop that has since closed.

In the nine years since its creation, the festival has gradually grown. So much so that reputable people in the fiber arts community are now traveling from San Francisco all the way to Oxford to take part in the three-day event.

“I think what is really interesting and why I think the fiber fest continues grow is that professional people, people that are in their mid-30s and grown up with technology, want the ability to come in and make something,” Andrews said. “What drove something to be like ‘oh, we’re going to lose these skills’ has also made it be a resurgence of ‘oh, I can learn and the more I do it the better I’ll get. I don’t have to be a master of it. I can just enjoy the peace and quiet of making something.”

The festival officially runs from Thursday to Sunday with classes and exhibits all around Oxford. There is a pre-fest event taking place on Wednesday at the museum where Ann Svenson will give a lecture on her career highlights as a textile conservator. The reception will start at 6 p.m. followed by Svenson’s talk at 6:30 p.m.

A one-day pass is $2 and a weekend pass is $5 and children are free to exhibits and markets. To buy tickets and other materials for all the classes and to see the full schedule of classes offered visit oxfordarts.com.