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50 Cove St
Portland, ME, 04101
United States

(207) 780-1345

Located in the East Bayside area of Portland, Maine, we strive to provide an encouraging community for fellow fiber-lovers by offering classes and carrying supplies for weavers, spinners, wet felters, needle felters, and dyers.  Stop in and let us help you on your merry fiber way!  

PortFiber Blogginess

Casey and Julie's ramblings on spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing, and of life in Portland, Maine.

Current WIPs

Casey Ryder

Polyamory, when it comes to a maker's world, seems to be the norm.  What I mean is that most of the creative people I know have three or four (or eight or twenty) projects going on at once.  Is it a symptom of society?  Our attentions can't be held by one pursuit at a time?  Hmm.  I don't think I want to delve into that social critique, but I will share what's currently on my needles.  Well, at least the projects that I'm actively making.  I don't want to think about all of the UFOs (unfinished objects) lurking in drawers and trunks around my apartment.  Yipes!

I'll start with a project I began in December - a twill lap blanket, woven on the 48" 8-Harness Macomber loom using JaggerSpun organic Merino.  I've never used a sectional back beam before, but Ray showed me the the hows and what-fors.  Winding on a sectional warp is pretty slick!  Threading the heddles, however, was a bit daunting for such a large project!  I've also discovered that trying to progress on personal projects that live at work is not so easy.  But!  Now that I've gotten to the fun part (throwing the shuttle and seeing the fabric come together), I'm moving right along.  I've got about a yard left to weave and then the fringe twisting will commence!  This is going to be a gift to some very special people. 

Next up, a silk tee that I started in February.  I was looking, very last minute might I add, for a project to knit while on vacation in Florida.  I landed on the Linum Tee, designed by Bristol Ivy.  Bristol's patters are baller, and I'm not just saying that because we're pals.  She is queen at creating garments with simple, clean shapes + an added element of design (read: math) that would make my brain explode if I had to come up with it myself.  I decided to knit this piece with Habu Textiles Tweedy Silk held together with their viscose silk yarn.  So far, I'm loving it.  It's a great mindless knit at the moment as the whole bottom part is stockinette.  (Yes, Netflix!  I AM still watching!  Don't judge me!)  I'm looking forward to the Fisherman's Rib at the top of the tee.  Hopefully, I'll finish in time for this summer!

Last up:  some sparkle-tastic socks!  For last month's Dyeing 101 class, I wound a 14 yard skein to demonstrate how to hand paint self-striping sock yarn.  I was so happy with the results that I did my gauge swatch at home that night while the yarn was still a bit damp.  I did reprimand myself for casting-on for yet another project, but it was a halfhearted tongue lashing because I love knitting socks!

What's everyone else working on?  Any monogamous makers out there?  Does one actually accomplish more when working on one project at a time?  I'm not sure, but I'm happy with spreading my fibery love, even if it means finishing a project years after I've begun!

Weaving A New Adventure

Casey Ryder

When I came to PortFiber last December my weaving experiences had been limited, thereby coloring my perception of the craft. Thus far confined to small frame looms and a lack of knowledge and experience, I semi-consciously viewed weaving as slow, limited, and unsuited to my crafting purposes.  Nevertheless, I had a goal to learn how to weave on the shop's array of increasingly complicated and intimidating looms, perhaps just to prove to myself that I could.

So I read a bit and watched some youtube videos and jumped in and made some mistakes and learned how to weave, more or less.  I could have stopped, except I guess I couldn't stop- I can't stop. So far I've woven nine pieces on rigid heddle and four harness table looms and I love it so much!  I've played around a touch with patterns, techniques, and various warping methods, but the truth is I just like weaving.  I don't even have any desire to make anything but scarfs at the moment (at least I've got holiday gifts mostly figured out) as I'm captivated by the back and forth of building fabric and watching my handspun interact with each other in new and fascinating ways.  It's so relaxing, so rejuvenating, so fundamental.  I do want to learn everything I can about weaving (I always get excited about gathering information about a new skill) but I'm oh so enjoying my slow build up of skills and experience along-side the more information dense side of the craft. 

It seems I've fallen in love with weaving at precisely the right time in my fiber journey: In September I'll be taking my leave of Portland and PortFiber to fulfill another goal of mine.  I'm going to Camphill!

Alright, I'm sure many people aren't familiar with Camphill (I wasn't until I met someone who spent many years at the original one in Scotland), so here's the ten cent summary:  Camphill is an intentional community (a cluster of houses and buildings centered around a biodynamic farm and garden) where people, some with developmental disabilities and some without, live and work together.  The Camphill I'm going to in Copake, New York is home to many workshops including a bakery, herbal extract making facility, bookbinding, woodworking, stained glass, candle making, and a weavery.  The Camphill movement (which boasts over 200 communities around the world) was begun by Dr. Karl Konig in Scotland after fleeing Nazi occupied Austria, but it is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner (who is perhaps most famous for the development of Waldorf Schools).  For years I have been captivated by arts programs (think Spindleworks in Brunswick, Maine) that utilize and build the talents of those with developmental disabilities, so upon hearing about Camphill I immediately felt it needed to be part of my life.  Having the weavery helps too, though...

I suppose I've always viewed my life as a series of adventures that contribute to my growth as a person, which is why it doesn't seem so odd to be leaving a place I love.  Sad perhaps, but sadness just reminds me of how much I've grown and enjoyed my time here.  I have nothing but gratitude for my PortFiber family who have always been so open and welcoming.  I've been very lucky to be a part of this wonderful community for as long as I have, though I'm sure this is only goodbye for now.  Thank you everyone!


-Julie ^_^  


Casey Ryder

Howdy all!

Though sometimes it's hard for me to remember, I did create before fiber came into my life.  I've always had a difficult time with art for art's sake in my practice- always insisting that there be a deeper meaning or intent behind a work.  I was taught in the quasi-paradox of art school that process was more important than product and separated the true artist from the craftsman (please don't think I care about such designations, I'm just saying my professors felt this way).  So when I first noticed those little sparks of passion at the start of a new artistic journey, I started looking for a way to incorporate my drawing into the process (goodness knows I couldn't just draw for drawing's sake!)

My favorite way to draw is in pen on prepped paper.  I really enjoy that pen, in its permanence,  shows my process and the way I see something differently over time.  The prepping I usually do with paints in a semi-random application (this is directly inspired by John Cage's works on paper, but that's a whole other topic).  I usually draw people or objects isolated in these randomized worlds, as I've always enjoyed the out-of-place and isolated feelings these works create. While I've been doing this for awhile, the next steps helped me bring it into my current interests.

I began to further isolate my figures by cutting them (sometimes choosing to show just a small section of a body) and their spaces after a work was complete.  Specifically I cut them into yarn skeins (or at least what I think look like bumpy yarn skeins) and made them into tags!  Now that I'm selling my yarn, I feel like I'm giving a truer, fuller sense of myself when someone buys a skein of my spindle-spun with a tiny piece of my art on it.

I feel good about this!  I have enough interest to continue exploring these free-form figure studies in abstract settings for a long time (ask me about my artistic intent sometime and we can talk philosophy), and the same goes for spinning.  For now, the two work well together.  Plus, I have an "excuse" to keep drawing in an increasingly fiber dominant set of hobbies.         -Julie


Thanks for reading and please tell us about your crafting!