Mind your knitting

Preparations for 2012 Fibrations festival all sewed up

Ryan Davis

It’s the only festival in Victoria that’s guaranteed to have you in stitches.

This is the second year for the grassroots Fibrations fibre art festival, running Sunday, Aug. 19. It’s a gathering of fibre artists of all types to sell their products, talk shop with enthusiasts and fellow practitioners and give demonstrations illustrating the process behind the craft.

Last year’s inaugural event was borne out of the sudden cancellation of the Victoria Fibre Festival. A group of fibre artists quickly stepped up to organize an event to replace it, with little time but lots of enthusiasm.

“We had very little time, about a month,” co-organizer and Knotty By Nature fibre arts store co-owner Ryan Davis said. “It was really fun, we just all pulled together, did a bunch of work and made it happen. It went amazingly well. There was just a great amount of excitement about it.”

This year’s event is capturing the same spirit, with all the organization done by volunteers and a focus on making it artist-friendly and widely inclusive. Costs for vendors are kept low and all the money raised, aside from money earned by the vendors, goes right back into the event.

“Last year it just had the best vibe in the air. … It was quite special,” Davis said. “A lot of people sold out of their stuff that they brought, so people were very excited about how well they did.”

The cost to vendors to participate is a donation of a $35 retail value item that is then put up as a prize at the event in a toonie raffle. The money from the raffle pays for the event. The idea is to keep costs low and participation high so more people, including hobbyist fibre artists, can participate.

About 35 vendors took part in last year’s event and this year organizers have already had to cut the registration off at 50 vendors.

Davis said that if you can name a fibre art, it will be at the event.

Woven, knit, needle-felted and other finished products will be in abundance. This includes practical items such as scarves and hats, but also more creative display works.

Supplies will also be plentiful. Wool, knitting yarn and all the other tools of the trade needed for fibre art will be for sale. A couple of local hand-dyed knitting yarn producers will even be there selling products.

Food vendors will also be on-site, including a merchant who sells knitting needle-shaped chocolate.

Davis is a weaver primarily. His wife and Knotty By Nature co-owner Stephanie Papik taught him how to use a loom about eight years ago and he “took to it.”

“It’s very meditative and relaxing and you make beautiful things,” Davis said.

There are many reasons people take to fibre art, either producing it or enjoying the outcome.

“It’s practical a lot of times. It’s art and it’s wearable at the same time, so that’s kind of nice,” Davis said. “What I love about fibre art is that it has an organic element to it, almost like it’s a combination of control and chaos. Because every fibre behaves differently and they can interact with each other.”

Fibrations takes place in the St. Ann’s Academy Orchard (635 Humboldt Street) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.