Fairbanks Fiber Festival

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 9:31 AM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The spinning wheels, spindles, and looms at the Fairbanks Fiber Festival might not be able to spin straw into gold, but they can do the next best thing.

Dozens of local fiber artists, farmers, and educators drew a crowd at the Civic Center at Pioneer Park on Saturday and Sunday. Vendors presented a wide variety of home-crafted yarns and materials, many of them hand-dyed in a kaleidoscope of colors. Some organic home dyes included yellow from onion peels, or red from beet powder.

Every type of fiber could be found on the shelves, from angora rabbit hair to qiviut from muskox.

Traditional spinning and weaving techniques were also on display. Although these traditional methods may not be as common as they once were, the crafters were glad to prove these techniques are far from a lost art.

Marta Rolig, who was using an old-fashioned, foot pedal-operated spinning wheel, said she found the length of the fibers made a big difference when you are learning how to spin; the longer the fiber, the more it wants to twist in on itself and make your job easier.

“I go ahead and pre-draft it to make it even easier for me to spin it, and pre-drafting is just pulling the fibers and lining them up all together,” Rolig said. “Then I attach it to my spindle, I get it going, and it makes it easy for the fibers to grab each other.”

Even though Rolig said she had only begun spinning within the past few months, it only takes her two hours to fill the spindle with yarn.

“All making thread for any garment is just the process of taking a fiber that pulls apart, and you put twists into it, and by putting twists into it it makes it strong,” explained Dwayne Eager, who co-operates Eager Spinner Farms. Eager demonstrated his varied collection of spindles from different cultures, including a Scottish spindle, a Turkish spindle, a top-whirl spindle, and even a Mayan spindle. All of them have different shapes and slightly different methods of operation, Eager emphasized that they all function the same. “You’re doing the exact same thing,” he said, “you’re putting twists into fiber to make thread.”

The Fairbanks Fiber Festival is an annual event with an emphasis on goods made or produced in Alaska. For more information on the festival visit their website.