The Maine Indian Basketmakers Sale and Demonstration is the basket event of the year, as the handwork and artistry of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot take center stage. Having the opportunity to home in on the delicate scent of sweet grass used in Indian basket making and… Read More
    It’s a truth universally acknowledged (to paraphrase Jane Austen) that those who knit, sew and stitch, will, as often as possible, add needlework books to their already bulging libraries. Sooner or later, most knitters knit in circles using circular needles. Now they can learn to… Read More
    Caps are a wardrobe necessity, especially in winter, but here in Maine knitted or crocheted caps can be worn at least three seasons of the year. They keep heads warm and make a fashion statement, too. Most handmade caps fit snugly and usually stretch enough… Read More
    Think red. That’s what Betsy Doherty of Brooklin wants knitters and crocheters to do as they fashion scarves for the Heartscarves project, designed to bolster the spirits of women with heart disease. Doherty is the network support coordinator for WomenHeart of Coastal Maine. She introduced… Read More
    The Irish tradition of lace making staggers the imagination. It includes crocheted lace with picots and flower forms, Youghal needle lace with the design outlined in couching stitches using fine thread, Inishmacsaint needle lace with a raised three-dimensional effect, Carrickmacross lace of applique and cutwork worked over netting,… Read More
    Women who sew and have a yen for domestic elegance, a la Francais, will find much to delight them in the book, “French General Home Sewn: 30 Projects for Every Room in the House” by Kaari Meng. Meng is the owner of the California store French General, a… Read More
    The National NeedleArts Association conducted a survey, “The State of Specialty Needle Arts” in 2007 to determine what’s going on in the world of needlecraft. It was the third such study the association has conducted since 2001. I found the results of the survey interesting and thought By… Read More
    Happy haunting.” “Let the ghoul times roll.” googletag.cmd.push(function () { // Define Slot var slot_sizes = [[300,250]]; var new_slot_sizes = []; var has_banner = false; for (var i = 0; i < slot_sizes.length; i++) { if (isMobileDevice()) { if (slot_sizes[i][0] googletag.cmd.push(function () { // Define… Read More
    The fact is, most of us need to work. No matter where we work, thermostats are likely to be turned down this winter to keep fuel budgets in check. No doubt we’ll experience cold hands. Time to plan ahead and think about wearing mitts, at work and at… Read More
    When the Wednesday Spinners get together, as they have since 1975, they are participating in Maine’s fiber economy, a farm-based industry, with roots in the rock, that raises fiber animals such as sheep and alpacas, and produces yarn spun from the fleece of those animals. They are women… Read More
    The current buzzword among those who buy fabric and sew at home is “sew green.” This is code for using textiles made of natural and renewable plant and animal fibers grown without pesticides, manufactured in a way that produces a minimum of polluting waste products and leaves a… Read More
    Fall is the time to gather in the fruits of one’s labor. Nowhere in this many-splendored season is there a better time or place to celebrate that concept than at the Common Ground Country Fair, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 19-21, at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association… Read More
    I hate to say this – it’s not too soon to be thinking about keeping warm this winter. The fact is, given the dastardly news about the high cost of heating in the coming cold months, it’s time to make certain enough warm woolies will be on hand,… Read More
    September is National Sewing Month. There won’t be parades and fireworks to mark those weeks, but there are many things one can do to celebrate – besides buying more fabric, thread and gorgeous buttons. For example: googletag.cmd.push(function () { // Define Slot var slot_sizes =… Read More
    It’s time to go back to school – Fiber College, that is – where “students” can “major” in knitting, felting, weaving, embroidery, spinning, quilting, basket making, rug hooking and related arts. Fiber College convenes Thursday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 7, at Searsport Shores Ocean Camping, Route 1,… Read More
    The minute I saw Butterick Pattern 4740, I knew the time had come. I was ready to do something with the three yards of silk shantung given to me more than 20 years ago by a friend who was moving to another state. She was… Read More
    Many of us who were brought up by mothers who sewed remember them engaging in what they referred to as “making over” a garment. This usually meant that an adult-sized dress or coat had been taken apart and recut to a child’s proportions. A man’s black overcoat might… Read More
    For those with a fondness for fabric, the Pine Tree Quilters Guild annual quilt show is the high point for July. The guild’s 31st annual show runs Friday-Sunday, July 25-27, at the Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive. The cost of admission is $8. More… Read More
    I have to stay away from the Hampden Transfer Station. Too often I come home with more stuff than I hurl into the trash. Usually what I bring home is related to needlework – a bag of homeless yarn, a tin of orphaned tatting cotton,… Read More
    One recent sunny June day, I hauled all the curtains off my windows and threw them into the washing machine to rid them of the dust and grunge that had accumulated during the long, closed-in winter months. I carried them, along with a basket of clothespins, outside to… Read More
    Red, white and blue – woo-hoo! That color combination takes center stage on the Fourth of July. It’s the day we celebrate all the good things that come to us because we are citizens of the United States. It’s a time to have fun with family and friends… Read More
    Those of us who own antique textiles, including quilts, doilies, embroidered linens, clothing and woven bedcovers need to know how to care for them. “How to Conserve Antique Textiles” was the topic of a Brown Bag Lunch Series lecture on May 30 at the Page… Read More
    Recently, a By Hand reader from New York e-mailed that she has a large collection of high school and college athletics T-shirts that belong to her son, who is now grown and married. He no longer wants the T-shirts. Mom doesn’t want to throw away or donate the… Read More
    The fairgrounds will echo with the pitter-patter of llama feet, the bleating of sheep and goats, and the great enduring silence of rabbits. In other words, the fur will fly at the 8th annual Maine Fiber Frolic 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, at the Windsor… Read More
    May 12 was a sunny spring day, perfect for a drive to Castine. Forsythia, azaleas, tulips and daffodils were in bloom, the landscape reminding me of samplers embroidered in silk. The Penobscot Narrows Bridge gleamed silver in the sun. The water of the bay was inky blue. Read More
    Once upon a time, in 1991, I needed a summer job. I was a woman of many skills. I knew how to supervise homework, see to the needs of five children and a husband, cook supper, fold laundry, feed the cat and carry on an intelligent conversation all… Read More
    The moment after a woman says yes to the BIG question, she is deluged by even more questions – and all of them have to do with the wedding. Khris Cochran, founder of and author of “The DIY Bride,” has plenty of answers to brides’ questions, especially… Read More
    It’s anniversary time. The Bangor Bear Paws quilt group and the Orono Quilters are celebrating 30 years of crafting fabric into bedcovers and other useful and decorative items. The two groups will hold a joint quilt show 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, April 25, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday,… Read More
    I have racked up more than 50 years of stitching stuff by hand. I began this odyssey of needle and spool at age 10 when I stitched my first piece of embroidery. Since then I have accumulated many tools to aid me with this passion. Some, like the… Read More
    Get ready, get set, Shop Hop! That’s the marching order for April, according to Evelyn Caruso, co-owner of The Cotton Cupboard in Bangor. She reports that the fifth annual State of Maine Quilt Shop Hop is organized, ready and waiting for quilters or anyone else who can’t resist… Read More
    I have a really big reason to regret that I no longer live on Francis Street in Lincoln, Neb., not far from the University of Nebraska’s East Campus. When the International Quilt Study Center opens its new facility there on March 30, it will be nirvana for quilters… Read More
    Now that my broken left arm is encased in a material that makes it resemble a section of PVC pipe, my thoughts turn naturally to the anatomy of the sling. The sling I am wearing, which I acquired at the St. Joseph Hospital emergency room… Read More
    The cat mat project was, as my mother would say, “a job well done.” But there are other knitting and crocheting jobs out there that knitters and crocheters can dive into to benefit the common good – people, this time. First of all, those of… Read More
    Yeah, I know it’s still winter and not many of us are thinking about T-shirts. But winter is a good time for thinking ahead and dreaming of those lazy, hazy days of summer that, in due time, will return to kiss warmth into our yearning faces. Read More
    One cold winter’s evening in the 1950s when my sister and I were whining about having nothing to do, my father asked my mother for an empty wooden thread spool, a big one, “the kind that Aunt Lydia’s thread comes on,” he said. My mother pawed through a… Read More
    One winter day nearly a year ago, I found myself fingering a piece of vintage white cotton that had languished in my fabric stash for a very long time – so long I didn’t remember precisely where I acquired it. I did recall, however, it had come from… Read More
    As the end of December approached a few weeks ago, yarn ennui set in. I had sensed its approach throughout the fall in small ways – the three knitting projects that had become UFOs (unfinished objects), and the fact that I didn’t feel driven to knit mittens for… Read More
    Throughout the ages, women have gathered formally and informally to knit, sew or spin. In the Colonial era they assembled, sometimes by the hundreds, to take part in spinning contests, vying to produce a record number of skeins in a specific amount of time. Women got together at… Read More
    Want to win a book – one of the On the Go series of books – “Cables” if you are knitter, or “Felted Crochet” if you are a crocheter? Knit or crochet a 6-inch square from washable yarn, such as cotton or acrylic, and send it to me. Read More
    If you knit, you’ve probably heard of UFOs. Indeed, you may have more than a few stashed guiltily away in tote bags stuffed in a closet in your house. If you subscribe, as I do, to several online newsletters such as Knitting Daily or Knitter’s Review, you will… Read More
    This summer I made the switch from using plastic bags to using cloth bags when I go to the store to buy groceries. I purchased, for the grand sum of 49 cents each, two cloth bags at the Brewer Goodwill store, and two larger cloth bags, for less… Read More
    When the Maine Indian basket makers are assembled it behooves those who love the art to hie themselves north to Orono for the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance sale, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, Hilltop Road, University of Maine. The event,… Read More
    If a knitter or other fiber aficionado is on your holiday gift list, there’s no better way to say, “Have a merry,” than with books. “The Best of Interweave Knits: Our Favorite Designs from the First Ten Years,” edited by Ann Budd, offers timeless designs… Read More
    The needle arts have been used traditionally as a means to memorialize the passing of a loved one and, in the process, to grieve; for example, look at the memorial samplers embroidered in the early 1800s, now found in museums. But in the 21st century,… Read More
    In October 1621, when the Pilgrims conducted a harvest celebration that evolved into what we now know as Thanksgiving Day, they had a lot to be thankful for. They had survived a long and dangerous journey across the Atlantic, arriving in America in December 1620. They made it… Read More
    If you were a mollusk, specifically Pinna nobilis, a large bivalve native to the Mediterranean region, what would you do? Well, you’d look for a place to drop your anchor, so to speak. You’d do this by sending out strong, thin fibers, or byssus, to glue yourself to… Read More
    A few weeks ago, a stack of vintage knitting and crochet booklets came my way. They once belonged to a woman whose knitting days are now behind her. The booklets are a physical manifestation of the creative history of the woman who once owned them. They reflect her… Read More
    I’m not certain why Halloween has become a favorite holiday with Americans. Maybe it’s because it’s the one day of the year that gives us a chance to terrify ourselves in a happily creepy way. Benign terror always feels so good, as if all the haunting hobgoblins of… Read More
    First, designer Nicky Epstein gave knitters “Knitting on the Edge.” She followed that with “Knitting Over the Edge.” In her most recent book, “Knitting Beyond the Edge,” she shows knitters how to add interest, whimsy and pizzazz to the cuffs and collars, necklines, corners, edges and closures of… Read More
    Last week I went to a yarn tasting. Well, no, the 15 or so knitters who attended the first session of the monthly event didn’t chow down on balls of fuzzy yarn, but they did nibble pale yellow cheese and sip dark red, light pink and pale gold… Read More
    At last I know the truth. As a knitter I have learned to speak a secret language. I never knew this until I opened a copy of Mary Beth Temple’s “The Secret Language of Knitters,” a small compendium of words from A to Y, excluding X and Z… Read More
    Those who make things often pitch in to make things better for others, which might explain why so many creative people have lined up to take part in the Autumn Gold Artisan Fair, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Maine Grind Coffee Bar, Main Street, Ellsworth. Read More
    I have avoided learning one particular sewing technique, making pocket welts – those stitched-down flaps of material that cover the pocket openings of jackets or coats. Just thinking about making welted pockets always made my stomach churn. I didn’t want to learn how to do them for one… Read More
    Craft, a new magazine that aims to give the art of traditional crafting a younger, more hip attitude, is now available. The magazine’s format reminds me of a hardbound craft book encyclopedia that was popular in the 1970s, another era when crafting enjoyed a resurgence of interest. Some… Read More
    Many schools open everywhere this week. Add Fiber College to the list of places you may want to “study.” Fiber College, in its second year, is geared toward those who ply the needle Friday-Sunday, Sept. 7-9, on the grounds of Searsport Shores Ocean Camping Resort in Searsport. Read More
    The recent recall of more than 9 million toys made in China has created a wonderful opportunity for those of us who knit, sew, crochet or make stuff from wood. It gives us the perfect excuse to buy more yarn, fabric and lumber to make playthings for the… Read More
    When Rebecca Hawkins, 16, a student at Hampden Academy, attended the annual National Junior Classical League Convention held July 23-29 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she competed in a graphic arts contest in which she walked away with first prize, a purple ribbon and a certificate, for… Read More
    My sewing life has had so many phases, it resembles patchwork with ragged edges. The first phase was when I learned, officially, to sew in Mrs. Betty Calkins’ home economics class in 1962-63. In those days, armed with skills she’d stitched into my brain, I… Read More
    If summer vacation or other travel plans take you to points south in the next several months, consider making a stop at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1776 D St. NW, Washington, D.C. The DAR Museum’s current exhibit is “And So to… Read More
    In the late 1800s and early 1900s, sewing rooms were common in many houses. They were tucked into odd spaces at the top of the stairs, off the kitchen or in an attic. In those days, a sewing room was an oasis within the heart… Read More
    Those of you who want to spend the summer crocheting may want to add these books to your needlework library: “Crochet Inspiration” by Sasha Kagan is a reference book for crocheters. “Fibers are my flexible friends … when I was writing this book they twisted… Read More
    Who knew? Augusta was once a hotbed of magazine publishing. From 1869 to 1942, according to information supplied by Phyllis vonHerrlich at the Women’s History Trail Web site, more than 17 titles were published, and nationwide circulation of these magazines reached 3 million or more. Read More
    The quilting shop hop Evelyn Caruso of Glenburn embarked upon in April, with her sister Lori-Ann Knowles of Ellsworth and her aunt Mildred Kinens of Hudson, added a fourth sewing machine to her life – to go along with the basic Singer, Husqvarna and antique treadle machines she… Read More
    The needle arts lost one of its champions and a knowledgeable textile historian when Deborah Pulliam, 54, died in Castine on May 22. A regular contributor to Piecework magazine, her writing allowed those of us who share a love of fabric and needlework to gain a greater appreciation… Read More
    The idea of using a wad of cloth to lift a hot pot from the fire is, I assume, an ancient one. Potholders as a staple of cooking equipment are probably as old as dirt – well, mine are anyway. Seeing the singed edges, the… Read More
    Every so often I get a yen to make dolls. I don’t know why. As a child, I never played with dolls all that much. Dolls were such a bother. They had to be carried around and that interfered with my propensity to investigate and learn the world… Read More
    This is Women’s Health Week. The emphasis is on educating women about the various aspects of living in a healthful way. Efforts are being made to get the word out about women and heart disease, women and breast cancer, women and mental health. Knitting, needlework… Read More
    Knitters who have single skeins of yarn rolling around in their knitting baskets don’t have to fret any longer about how to use them. Yarn shop owners from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore., have pooled their original patterns to create the 239-page book, “One Skein… Read More
    ‘Throughout history, sexuality, politics, societal behavior, religion, gender and love have been concealed, controlled and corrupted by a small piece of cloth, sometimes plain, sometimes embellished, always significant.” That statement refers to aprons, the subject of “Behind the Apron,” an event organized by weaver Kate Henry of Southwest… Read More
    Historically, dolls have existed for many reasons. They served as a vehicle for getting fashion information to the wide world before the advent of rapid visual communication, for example. But mostly, they have been, and continue to be, playthings for little girls – and boys, after the advent… Read More
    We all want pretty things to make our homes feel comfortable and cozy – it’s that nesting impulse common to living things kicking in. Often, something as simple as a brace of lovely pillows can add immeasurably to the ambience of an otherwise ho-hum room. And if the… Read More
    I never thought I’d say this. I bought a new sewing machine several weeks ago. I have no decent excuse for such a drastic action. My 44-year-old Touch and Sew Singer works just fine, although the zigzag part is a bit notional at times. But, hey, who wouldn’t… Read More
    A store that sells fabric is a palace of luxurious textures, sumptuous colors, a wealth of cotton, linen, wool and synthetics with names such as batiste, corduroy, gauze, satin, lace, chiffon, pique, flannel, fleece, kettle cloth, tweed, plaid, taffeta, brocade and eyelet. When I shop… Read More
    I like the idea of dye, of dipping white fabric into a liquid that will turn the cloth a different color. But I am leery of pots filled with pigment boiling on the back of the stove, of pouring packets of dye into the washing machine where residue… Read More
    I don’t know who Nell Armstrong was except that she was a designer of knitwear in the 1940s and 1950s. Her work covered the spectrum of knitting and crochet – doll dresses, dolls and toys, crocheted window-shade pulls, sweaters in Scandinavian patterns, clothing for little children, baby items,… Read More
    Admittedly, I have pack-rat instincts. What knitter doesn’t? I like all sorts of yarn, but I seem to be attracted to orphan skeins in weird colors and strange configurations of fibers. I always go for yarn that is so unbeguiling to the general knitting population that it languishes… Read More
    From time to time, I hear the lament that a sense of the common good, a concept important to American democracy, is little in evidence these days. But laments often are filtered through individual perception, which may or may not have a basis in fact. However, in the… Read More
    Matter, especially fabric, I am convinced, can be neither created nor destroyed. Therefore, we must recycle. That thought is not as scientifically accurate as the original law of physics, but it works for those of us who sew. Such fabric matter can, like magic, be changed from one… Read More
    While browsing through yarn catalogs recently, I found myself drooling over descriptions of yarn fiber content. Now I know what sheep feel like when they are turned out to a pasture of green grass after spending the winter eating hay. Right away, I began dog-earring pages so I… Read More
    I like to watch movies while I knit. I figure knitting and watching a movie at the same time requires one hemisphere of my brain to follow the sequences of the knitting pattern while the other hemisphere is dazzled by the colorful scenes and emotional festivities in the… Read More
    Who’s your daddy, who’s your baby, who’s your buddy, who’s your friend?” country crooner Toby Keith asks in a song. If you know the answer to that question and want to send a handmade valentine to a loved one, it’s time to get stitchin’ and craftin’. Read More
    I hate to say this: I am not the sylph I was a few years ago when I made those two pairs of wool pants – one in gray Harris tweed and the other in plain old black. The pants are lined, have side-seam pockets,… Read More
    My house is 200 years old, more or less. The floors are wavy and nothing is plumb. I accept these things as personality traits of the house and feel no desire to “remedy” them. The house is what it is, and I respect its charm and character. Read More