Our Fiber Community: Agents of Fiber Fun
It’s been some time since I’ve posted on this blog. Life has been so hectic! Within the past year, we have acquired a number of sheep, all ewes! They are just the sweetest animals imaginable. They are also hilarious. I have named them after comediennes: Lucy, Ethel, Phyllis, Gilda, Wanda, Tiffany, Laverne and Shirley. Lucy is the largest and the ring leader. Whatever she does, Ethel and Wanda follow her in lock-step. The rest hang back and watch what they do, then follow suit. Al sheared them for the first time this past spring and we got some nice fleeces from them. I will be sending the fleece off to the mill soon to be made into combed top and eventually, it will be for sale in the shop for all you spinners out there.
I have been so blessed this year! I have been able to attend a number of Fiber Festivals, such as the East Texas Fiber Festival, DFW Fiber Festival, and the Houston Fiber Festival. During the rest of this year, I will be attending Vogue Knitting Live Intensive in Austin, Fiber Fun in the Sip in Vicksburg, Mississippi and East Texas Fiber Festival. I will also be doing a trunk show at Yarnia in Nacogdoches, Texas, The Modern Skein in Montgomery, Texas and A Sheep at the Wheel in Georgetown, Texas. I have also been blessed to have Quixotic Fiber, A Sheep at the Wheel and West 7th Wool carry my yarns in their shops.
Last year, while at the DFW Fiber Fest, I met several crafters who belong to a group of knitters, spinners and crocheters. They call themselves “Agents of Fiber Fun.” They live, work and craft in the Houston area. These ladies are so talented, so kind and so much fun! They bring a special kind of joy to the fiber community. They travel together to various festivals, they meet and knit, spin and crochet together. They support each other in crafting and in life. Over the past year, I have gotten to know them, laugh with them and witness their friendship, comradery and laughter. They have come to each fiber festival I have been at and they always stop by my booth for some laughs. Last week, I surprised them by showing up at their regularly scheduled knitting group meeting AND I got inducted into the group. I’m Agent 009!!!
Much has happened in the knitting community since the beginning of the year. I have spoken with these women, as well as other makers of color and I am able to relate to the stories they tell, being a maker of color myself. It saddens me to see how the divisiveness in our political life here in the United States is making its way into our fiber community. Many of the issues which have been brought to the forefront of our community have always been there, just not discussed, not acknowledged, not addressed, not known or worse, simply ignored. The issues are real. Many people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community have been treated poorly in this community: treated horribly or ignored when shopping for yarn and supplies, under-represented in marketing by large yarn companies, fiber related magazines and publications, both in advertising and promotion of designers, indie dyer companies, other makers of color. I am optimistic that this will change due to the fiber artists who have stepped out and put voices and faces to this problem. They have taken the hits from those who refuse to acknowledge there is a real problem. I applaud all of the people who have stood up against bigotry wherever it is and however it has played out.
What is amazing to me is that many people do not realize how large the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ fiber community happens to be. Statistics from 2016 state that there were approximately 29 million people who knit and/or crochet in the United States. (I frankly think that number is low; there are probably 29 million knitters/crocheters here in Texas alone – because We Knit and Crochet in Texas!) If the U.S. population for African-Americans is 13.4% and for Hispanic Americans is 18.3% (according to U.S. Census estimates), that is a LOT of potential knitters/crocheters who are being ignored and this is without accounting for the LGBTQ+ makers. So for all the businesses that treat people poorly, that do not represent people of color or other minorities in marketing and advertising, that do not support makers of minority groups such as designers, you are not only doing a disservice to your fellow human being, you are doing yourself a huge disserve in loss of business.
For all those businesses out there that treat people fairly and equally, that represent all people in their marketing and advertising, who understand that the world is a mixing pot, that have taken steps to address inequities, THANK YOU. You are truly appreciated and you will always have my business. Because, like most people of color, I don’t care what race you happen to be, I just want to be treated fairly and equally represented.
With all these thoughts running through my mind about inclusion and representation, I came up with the idea of doing a Kwanzaa Calendar as opposed to an Advent Calendar. Kwanzaa is a pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. It is based on seven principles:
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Although the holiday is a pan-African holiday, its principles are inclusive and applicable to all people. I hope that this calendar will be joyful, fun and enlightening.
So until next time, happy crafting!
Thank Ewe Carolyn for your enlightened post!! Threads & Ewe is also thrilled to be carrying your yarn!! Can’t wait to see what you dye next!!