Assorted baked goods, canned goods and fresh produce, all are items regularly found at the Isle Farmers Market. On Saturday, Sept. 7, the market highlighted another of its common goods: fiber. Vendors Dawn Ykema and Linda Strickler both had their spinning wheels at the market, providing demonstration on how they worked their craft. Market vendor and local business owner Penny Simonsen was responsible for spearheading the effort to make Sept. 7 the market’s Fiber Day, and she explained the importance she saw in highlighting fiber.
Fiber is important to Simonsen’s own business, the Tinshack Co. on Main Street Isle, where she sells a variety of yarn and knit and crochet accessories. “With fiber, there’s so many things people can do,” she explained. “They might not be the shepherd or sheer the animals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work with it.” She and her husband raised sheep, she added, but he was the shepherd, and she worked the fiber end of it.
Through the market’s Fiber Day event, Simonsen hoped to start a conversation on the variety of fiber arts and products available. “We have various local people involved,” she said. “And while they don’t all do all of it, each of them practices some of it.” Fiberworking included spinning wool and yarn, knitting and crocheting, but Simonsen pointed to a wider breadth beyond these common practices. She noted that papermaking and clothing design were also sorts of fiber arts. By emphasizing the products at the farmers market, she also aimed to help promote awareness for local sources of fiber products.
Simonsen feels that providing exposure to fiber arts is important, as some people might have the misconception that it is a dying art. Those involved with fiber at the market Saturday were willing to teach their crafts, whether it was spinning, dying, knitting, crocheting, or weaving. In her experience, Simonsen said she saw many young people picking up fiber arts, with 18-35 being a common age range to start.
At the market, Ykema’s crafts included dying yarn and knitting socks and dryer balls. Stickler also practiced dying, using exclusively natural sources for her dye. Her crafts included rug weaving and crocheting. In addition to Fiber Day on Sept. 7, vendors at the market celebrated customer appreciation with discounts and complementary items. One vendor was even running a small raffle.
Simonsen is passionate in her promotion of fiber arts, and she sees potential for more Fiber Days in the future. Even if patrons missed the Sept. 7 event, they still may have an opportunity to partake in the wide world of fiber.