Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 25, 2013

Annual ‘Woolen Workshop’ puts new spin on traditional arts

Beth Notaro said there’s a new swear word among fans of traditional arts like knitting, crocheting and weaving.

“Craft is the new ‘c-word.’ We don’t say craft,” she said. “It’s a bad word. We call it handwork.”

Why? Notaro said it’s a change that’s meant to move handmade quilts, rugs and hangings from the museum into the modern age, and demonstrate that “it’s not just your grandma’s craft anymore.”

That was the main goal of the seventh-annual Winter Woolen Workshop held this weekend inside the Seiberling Mansion and Elliott House. Over 350 participants gathered to pick up tips and swap advice on techniques involved in sewing, embroidery, needle felting and all kinds of other traditional arts.

“The whole point of this event is to convince people not to wait until you’re 65 to get a hobby,” she said. “Handworking isn’t just an art for people 12 or under or 65 or older.”

Inside the buildings, people browsed through homemade crafts sold by 22 vendors, and sat in on demonstrations by expert artisans to learn the ins and outs of creating their own pieces.

As participants chatted, perused the rooms and took up their quilting or knitting projects, the sound of hammered dulcimers played by live musicians drifted through the hallways.

Notaro said the event has nearly doubled since it first started seven years ago. The first year she said the workshop was a one-day event, with just around 150 people attending. It’s grown every year, and this year she said the workshop drew in participants from over seven states.

Mary Lingren, who’s held a rug-hooking workshop every year at the event, said one of her goals is to attract new people to the kinds of crafts some might consider out-of-date. And she said it’s working.

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