Wheels with several spokes rotate, and boats fly back and forth, weaving single fibers into unique works of art. Clothes are gradually falling from the clatter of knitting needles, and observers are warned to watch the fur.

All of this and more will bring dozens of weavers, spinners, knitters and other fiber craftsmen to Gettysburg College on July 7-10 for the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference.

The conference, which is held every other year, gives regional fiber craftsmen the opportunity to set up a network, take classes, learn new skills and spend a lot of money on tools and supplies.

The Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) is a group of fiber guilds in eight states, including Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A guild member can focus on weaving, spinning, crocheting, knitting or some combination of the four. With a national conference held every even year, regional guilds hold their conferences in odd years.

The MAFA first arrived in Gettysburg in 2009 with a successful regional conference attended by 90 students and 20 faculty members. Amazed by the terrain, the organizers decided to return in 2011.

“Gettysburg is a gold mine for us,” said Katie Olson, a weaver from Gettysburg, about her decision to stay in Gettysburg. Olson is responsible for coordinating the vendor hall, which will take place in the dance hall at Gettysburg College during the conference.

The 2011 conference offers an expanded choice for fiber lovers. “We have 30 instructors planned, and 12 vendors have signed up so far,” Olson said. “We hope there will be 200 students.”

Classes planned at the conference include advanced topics and methods of weaving, the study of solid looms and historical examinations of weaving and fabrics taught by a contingent of talented teachers. Other classes cover beginners and advanced spinning, color theory studied through dyeing, tapestry, felting, and sculptural knitting and crocheting.

Between and after classes, visitors are invited to visit the vendors’ hall, which presents goods and services offered by regional and national suppliers of fiber and tools. The working hours of the vendors are currently not specified, but Olson indicates that they will work extensively during the conference.

“When students come to such a conference, they feel so inspired that they feel the need to go out and buy yarn, fleece, roving or anything else,” Olson said of the availability of suppliers.

Shopping is not limited to students. Members of the public can come and indulge in fancy and shopping during the conference, and admission to the vendors’ hall is free.

Registration for the conference is still available, regular tuition is available until May 1 and the tuition increase until June 15. The tuition fee is $ 525 for accommodation, meals and registration with local suburban tuition for $ 400. Other fees are related to late registration and non-membership in the MAFA. Classes are available in the order that first came. For more information, a full schedule of events and to register, visit
mafafiber.org.

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