Much of the history of craft and fiber art is deeply seeded in stories of community and shared experiences. Whether you have an established community of fiber artists or people that are just deeply curious and innovative with textiles and experimental fibers or you are in search of some fiber soul mates, Knotwe has been doing some research and waking up to a few options everyone might explore.
Local Guilds & Arts Centers
Are there local fibers guilds or arts centers in your area? If you are a knitter, a weaver, a spinner or crochet or a sewing and pattern making genius, chances are there is a guild in your area that not only meet once a month or more, but also probably have a member base, newsletter and may even need some of your savvy help organizing, putting on shows etc. Of course, you decide your involvement but I guarantee you, it could be very rewarding. Not only will you meet more experienced or enthusiastic beginners, but you will learn about resources that are more carried by word of mouth than necessarily html. Doesn't this sound like how craft has traditionally passed it's knowledge through generations of makers? Also, and here is a big perk, some guilds, after you are a member for a designated period of time, let you rent equipment or studio time. So you know that carder or loom that is hot on your wish list? Maybe connecting with your local groups will help you not only meet some friendly faces but also broaden your horizons.
& this link will make you miss the discontinued Fibers Arts magazine, here is a list of Fiber friendly places: http://www.fiberarts.com/artist-highlight/april-may-2011/Fiber-Schools.asp
So you want to learn more about smart textiles, LilyPad Arduino, wearable technology and possibly 3D printing fabrics or wearables, hacking into a knitting machine? There is a huge and ever growing community of creative and innovative people gathering at Maker spaces around the world. These spaces usually have programing, events, workshops and believe it or not it is not all just coding techies, the craft community is a huge driving force behind their success and the inventive group of people moving and shaking things up. Even if you are dedicated to traditional modes of creating your work, sometimes it is good to shake things up and see something new and different. These spaces are guaranteed to change all sorts of ways we think about the economy and industry behind making. Maker spaces rely on a community of users that are engaged, with varying levels of tech savvy individuals ready to experiment. If that excites you, definitely check out the link below.
For a directory of Maker spaces: makerspace.com/makerspace-directory
Local Community Colleges, Universities and Art Schools
Almost every educational institution has a continuing education division. If you are lucky, they have facilities that house various looms, knitting machines, sewing machines, felting machines, jacquard looms, digitally embroidery machines, quilting machines, digital quilting machines, dying equipment, textile printing etc. Access can be very limited because honestly undergraduate and graduate students are paying the real tuition fees and usually have priority access but if the class fee is reasonable, signing up can mean you meet some new people interested in the process and get access to some equipment you may never otherwise have access to or you realize you save your pennies for another piece of equipment. The big prize, finding a course with a great teacher.
For a listing of international schools with fibers or textile related programs:
Share your ideas for local fiber communities on our Knotwe Forum