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November 22, 2006


Spinning wheels, looms, and a rainbow display of homemade textiles from the Valley will be featured at the University of Maine at Fort Kent Acadian Archives' exhibit of Homespun and Handwoven: Spinning and Weaving in the St. John Valley, which opens this Friday, December 1, 2006 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Opening events include live, on-site demonstrations of spinning and weaving.

Homespun and Handwoven is the result of a collaboration between five women who live in the St. John Valley. "As a group, we do not meet formally, although we do share tools and resources whenever needed," said lead curator Stacy Martin of Violette Settlement. "Each of us has our own style and strengths. We all carry a deep respect for our ancestors who passed on these traditions. Each of us holds ourselves responsible to see that these skills remain alive."

The exhibit features beautiful homespun yarns and textiles by Stacy Martin, Jackie Lozier, Patti Hill, Deb Durkin, and Lise Sirois. It also includes antique handwoven blankets, catalognes, and other textiles made by Valley women.

"The roots of spinning and weaving in the Valley run very deep," says Lisa Ornstein, Acadian Archives director. "For many generations, Valley farmers raised sheep for both meat and wool, and raised flax for linen. Children helped clean and card wool and helped unravel old woolen goods to be respun. Many women spun and knit for their families; others were skilled weavers who worked with linen, wool, and cotton. They made everything from blankets and runner rugs to dishcloths and dress fabric."

Also included in the exhibit are the tools and equipment used for spinning and weaving. Visitors will be able to see spinning wheels, looms, yarn winders, wool carding equipment, and an antique "baratte à défaisures," which thrifty Valley farmwives used to break down the fibers of old woolen goods for respinning into socks, mittens, and blankets. There also is a slide show by Stacy and Taylor Martin's daughter, Nadeya, about making a hand knit scarf using wool from her family's sheep.

Homespun and Handwoven: Spinning and Weaving in the St. John Valley will be on exhibit at the Acadian Archives Gallery Exhibit Room from December 1, 2006 through January 19, 2007. Gallery hours are Mondays-Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm and by appointment. Please call 834-7536 for additional information.