A Common Thread
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Lisa Krouse (left) Claudette Gosselin, two of the Mahoning Valley Fiber Guild founders with a quilt made by Krouse, a former arts teacher. The quilt features "yo-yos" pieces of circular fabric that are drawn in, gathered in the middle, and tacked on to the quilt.
If there is a common thread that brought together three local women, it is their shared love of fibers and of the many projects that use the fibers.
The three women Claudette Gosselin, Lisa Krouse, and Susan Zellner started their journey in October of 2012 when Gosselin received three alpacas as a gift. That journey culminated in the creation of the Mahoning Valley Fiber Guild.
"It was for the fiber," she said. "I started wet felting and needle felting with the alpaca wool. My daughter became interested in spinning and weaving. Then Lisa took some of the alpaca wool and began spinning, knitting and crocheting with it.
"Susan, Lisa and I are all interested in crafts, and we started talking about it," Gosselin continued. "We went to a guild meeting in Allentown."
Although interesting, that guild meeting wasn't exactly what they were looking for.
"We wanted to have demonstrations, to go on field trips, and to find out what other people were doing with fiber," said Gosselin, noting that they didn't want to travel so far to attend meetings.
While discussing their ideas, June Gaudreau, owner of fiber friendly Naturally Yours in Jim Thorpe, asked if they would be interested in starting something like a guild, and if so, to let her know, because she and several of her friends would be interested in joining.
So the three women decided to start the Fiber Guild.
"We put up posters in libraries, yarn shops, and quilting shops to try to see what interests we could learn from the community," explained Krouse. "Lo and behold, a fair amount of people showed up for our first meeting and they all brought samples of their work as we announced on the poster. We introduced ourselves and talked about what we like to do."
The guild meets on the first Wednesday of every month. Although open to men and women, the group has a current membership of 12 women.
"Each meeting begins with a 'show and tell' and we are influenced by one another's work," Krouse said.
For many meetings, the guild brings in a speaker to hold a workshop and demonstrate a technique. Periodically, they go on field trips a recent trip was to Labadie Looms in Bird In Hand, Pa. Other times, members work on projects.
During the 'show and tell', Gosselin displayed her latest project, a schlep bag a quilted bag used for "schlepping" all kinds of things like groceries, beach stuff, or gardening supplies. Martha Sullivan showed her knitted baby caps and shoe.
At the July meeting, the featured presentation was on flower pounding, led by Carolyn Thomson.
"Several years ago, I discovered a book called Flower Pounding by Ann Frischkorn and Amy Sandrin," she explained. "I always had lots of flowers around, so that appealed to me.
"In flower pounding, we collect flowers, arrange them on prepared cotton muslin, and hold them in place with masking tape," she began. "Then you turn it over and hammer the juice out of flowers to create a piece of artwork - like a painting. Finally, the colors are set with a warm iron."
Flowers contain natural dyes, and by the impact of hammering, the cells are broken and the colors and shapes are transferred to the material. Although the colors may be bright, they are fragile and to be preserved may be sealed and framed in UV protective glass and kept away from direct sunlight.
The flower pounding art is not washable. Thomson has used the technique to make quilts, table runners and wall hangings.
The Fiber Guild plans to hold a Fiber Fair on Nov. 23.
"It will be an opportunity for people to watch spinners, knitters and weavers demonstrating their specialties," Krouse said.
Those interested in learning more about the Fiber Guild may call Krouse at (570) 386-1180, Gosselin at 386-3942 or Zellner at 386-3789.