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2014-07-16 / Local News

Ewe-Per Fiber Fair in Curtis Links Old World with New

by Bill Diem

For many Americans, spinning wheels are pictures in children’s books—and not the most current ones. But in homes around the Tahquamenon area, and at the Three Lakes Academy in Curtis July 12, women work their wheels to spin wool into yarn.

“We’re keeping an art alive,” says Jan Fergin of Engadine, one of the Ewe-Per spinners and weavers who organized their fourth Fiber Fair in the Three Lakes Academy.

The Fiber Fair is a moment to invite wool and tool suppliers to display their wares, as well as for members to show and sell what theymake. This year nine vendors arrived; the first year there were four.

The whole wool supply chain was represented, from raw fleece sheared from Shetland sheep, to the yarn spun from raw wool, to the tools needed and finally the finished woven, knitted and crocheted products like hats, scarves and placemats. In addition, the event featured demonstrations of felt making, weaving and spinning.


The annual fiber fair in Curtis displayed the many types of fibers that can be used in yarn. Alpaca fleece, Llama yarn, Angora rabbit, goat, buffalo, musk ox and camel are among some of the choices of animal fiber. There are also plant based fiber, synthetic or man- made fiber and even a blend of fibers. Fiber artists and vendors were available to show their work – hand- spun yarn, woven goods, knit and crochet items, and exotic fibers. There were even demonstrations and learning events to try. Above left, Jan Fergin from Engadine demonstrates a double treadle spinning wheel using Morino sheep wool. In photo above right, Marcello Ford, a member of the Ewe- per Spinner & Weavers, uses a one- peddle spinning wheel to spin silk. She is able to alternate feet. 
photos by Marlene Porter The annual fiber fair in Curtis displayed the many types of fibers that can be used in yarn. Alpaca fleece, Llama yarn, Angora rabbit, goat, buffalo, musk ox and camel are among some of the choices of animal fiber. There are also plant based fiber, synthetic or man- made fiber and even a blend of fibers. Fiber artists and vendors were available to show their work – hand- spun yarn, woven goods, knit and crochet items, and exotic fibers. There were even demonstrations and learning events to try. Above left, Jan Fergin from Engadine demonstrates a double treadle spinning wheel using Morino sheep wool. In photo above right, Marcello Ford, a member of the Ewe- per Spinner & Weavers, uses a one- peddle spinning wheel to spin silk. She is able to alternate feet. photos by Marlene Porter Fergin and the 18 - 20 members of their spinning and weaving club are all women from Newberry, Curtis, Gould City, Engadine and environs. They meet on the third Saturday of every month at the Wellness Center behind the Erickson Center for theArts in Curtis.

But 150 years ago, says Fergin, spinning wool into yarn was a man’s job, because men ran machines, and she said that some men do still spin in other groups around the Upper Peninsula.

The women say there is something satisfying in working as their ancestors did, but they remain modern.

“We like our vehicles and our electricity,” says Fergin with a smile. And Sherry MacKinnon, another member, has her SpinnersEnd Internet store on etsy.com selling to customers anywhere in the world.

Old crafts live on…

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