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Adventures in Fiber Art

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elena-rosenberg

Designer and wearable fiber artist Elena Rosenberg calls beautiful Westchester County, New York, her home. When not playing with wool and silk to create her elegant knit and crochet accessories and fiber jewelry, Elena conjures up unique knitting patterns, shows her work at national juried fine craft exhibits, and contributes to Fiber Art Now magazine. For daily doses of art, design, and craft inspiration, follow Elena on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog. Passionate about seeing other artists and small businesses grow, Elena also offers bespoke social media consulting services to artists and organizations. 

Run your fingers over a soft wool shawl and feel its plush warmth; study the intricate fabric of a hand-woven wall hanging and marvel at its texture and complexity. Garments, home decor, and works of art created with fiber — especially natural fiber — have an attraction that is tactile and palpable, and a draw that takes you on an adventure of the senses.

Let’s take a trip into the world of fiber art and textiles, with a tour of Silk Painting Harbor, a stopover on Embroidery Street, a stroll through the Valley of Art Quilts, and a jaunt around Nuno-Felting Peninsula.

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[1. Felted cardigan by texturable; 2. Alice in Wonderland art dress by ArianeMariane; 3. Discharged silk screen kimono by DianneKoppischHricko; 4. Hand-embroidered eagle owl by EscapeFromNewYork; 5. Handwoven scarf by newtribetextiles; 6. Gold brown cowl by red2white; 7. Cobweb felted scarf by NatalyRykova; 8. Pliers needlepoint pillow by KasiaUrbanRybska; 9. Handwoven Tencel scarf by WovenBeauty; 10. Shaker wall basket by JustaBunchofBaskets.]

Can you trace the maker and the material of the clothes you are wearing right now? I bet that if you knew the handsome scarf around your neck was hand-dyed and hand-woven by a pair of urban homesteaders living in the American Southwest, and that your chic jacket was hand-dyed and hand-felted on the coast of Uruguay, you would treasure your clothes a little bit more and feel at lot more special wearing them.

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[1. Handwoven linen and paper blossom hanging by avalanchelooms; 2. “Sheep in the Night” felted relief picture by NerijusArt; 3. Needle-felted squirrel by darialvovsky; 4. Handwoven tea towel by NutfieldWeaver; 5. Felted candle holders by viltalakim.]

Bathe your bedroom in soft light filtered through candle holders felted with wool and seeds in the Netherlands, while you doze off counting Lithuanian sheep grazing on the slopes of felted mountains of wool. Add brightness and life to your dining room or kitchen with a decidedly modern “house blessing” made of linen and paper on a Wisconsin farm, and make all your dishes merry with a bright towel hand-woven on a foot-powered loom in New Hampshire to care for them.

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[1. Big brother softie by adatine; 2. Autographed picture book and poster by SalleyMavor; 3. 500 Fun Little Toys craft book by KnitKnit; 4. Felted dog brooch by pinthetail; 5. Waldorf sea turtle toy by EvesLittleEarthlings.]

Read your child a bedtime story from an award-winning Cape Cod artist’s book where the illustrations are made entirely of 3D embroidered fabric relief artwork. And when she wakes up, no fewer than 500 perfectly sized little projects, all dreamed up in the heart of New York City, await you and your cherub to sew, felt, knit and crochet!

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[1. Textile art portrait by pillowhappy; 2. Art quilt portrait by cindyrquilts; 3. Personalized needle-felted doll by FforFelt; 4. Portrait doll by theHandmadeKingdom; 5. Sewn photo portrait by threadquarters; 6. Personalized baby pillow by Mogwaii.]

Why bore your family and friends with fruit baskets and generic gift certificates when you can commission their likeness (whiskers, sparkling personality, and all) in needle-felt or thread? Be your grandparents’ favorite grandson and impress your artsy girlfriend when you present Nonna and Grampaw with a quilted portrait on their anniversary.

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[1. Handcarded spinning fiber by FeltStudioUK; 2. Handspun yarn by knottynaomi; 3. Raw alpaca fiber from willowmistacres; 4. Silk scarf kit by HeartFeltSilks.]

Back from your whirlwind fiber art adventure and ready to start creating some fiber magic of your own? Before you build an alpaca farm in your backyard, try introducing raw alpaca fiber from a Pennsylvania alpaca, angora, and camel farm into your projects. And when you want to knit something brilliant to wear on your next fiber art voyage, pick a knitting pattern from an indie designer on Etsy and an exquisite art yarn, hand-spun in sunny Los Angeles, California.

What’s your favorite fiber art?

Editor’s note: Feeling the fiber arts? Check out Karen Brown’s stories about having a coat made from scratch and Sally Fox’s naturally-colored fibers.

3 Featured Comments

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  • epicstitching

    Mel Ladner from epicstitching says: Featured

    Wonderful examples of different ways to use fiber and create art with it. For me fibers, of all kinds, are something to be cherished. There is just nothing better than putting on a jacket or socks that have a luxurious feel to them. Or wearing that jacket with mohair on it and having people express their amazement at how cute it looks! What's great about fiber is there are so many different kinds that you'll keep finding new ones throughout your life. So let your fingertips wander over all those unique clothes you come across maybe one of them is a new fiber encounter!

    2 years ago

  • needleandfelt

    Amy from needleandfelt says: Featured

    What a fabulous fiber adventure! I have a flock of sheep and use their wool and sometimes wool from other small farms to needle felt my animals. There are wonderful small farms on Etsy that I am tickled pink to buy fiber from. I have a fabulous time needle felting and they are supported. Win, win!

    2 years ago

  • PruAtelier

    Jeanne B from PruAtelier says: Featured

    Great post! I love that couple along with the squirrel....true artisans! As an aficionado of fiber art in all its manifestations, I never cease to marvel at the creativity and originality of fiber artists with the felt artists at the top of my list! What I have seen in felt artistry here on Etsy is just mind boggling! I'm sadly a dabbler myself....I dabble at felting, dabble at embroidery, and dabble at silk ribbon embroidery! For each new fiber medium i discover, then come the supplies.....it's no wonder i have become a hoarder extraordinaire with a workroom full of neglected roving, ribbons, etc., and numerous projects started, but that remain in suspended animation! My fallback though is sewing and the results of that are finally beginning to be realized!

    2 years ago