New View FiberWorks

Keeping Old-World Artisan Crafts Alive 
Writer: Carol Harvat

Photographer: Vickie Kite Milburn
The canceling of county fairs and holiday crafts shows was another disappointment this year, especially for those who like to find high-quality, handmade gifts to give during the holiday season. If you are one of these people, a small boutique on the Square in Leonardtown has an abundance of locally crafted items that will perk your spirits.
New View FiberWorks LLC began with seven women in 2008 under the name Fuzzy Farmers Market as part of the Craft Guild of St. Mary’s County.
“I saw all this wonderful talent and thought everyone needs to see this talent,” Misti Dayton says of why she started a fiber shop.
Currently, 20 women sell their hand-crafted products at the cooperative, which opened a storefront in the St. Mary’s County seat in 2011 and also serves as a working studio. On any given day, a member will be spinning, weaving, sewing, crocheting, knitting or felting.

CREATIVITY ABOUNDS
Just browsing the store stirs one’s senses as textures, colors and a variety of patterns are decoratively placed throughout. Woven and hand-spun shawls and scarves hang high along the wall, and silk marbled scarves drape over unique furnishings. Hand-sewn and quilted table runners are placed around the store along with fashionable bags, hats, mittens and baby clothes. Jewelry, pottery, cards and natural soaps made by co-op artisans are also for sale.
Each artisan also spends time working to maintain the business end of New View FiberWorks in whatever areas they have expertise. One might use their website building or graphic arts skills, or accounting knowledge, and all of them take turns tending to customers.
But first, these women are all creative souls, who enjoy using their hands and old-world techniques to make beautiful pieces to wear or display in a home.
“Most of us design our own work. We like the creative process,” Dayton says.
The fibers are produced at local farms in a variety of natural colors and hand-dyes. They use wool, alpaca, felt, cotton blends and even paper, considered a fiber.
Tatting jeweler Beth Truesdale taught herself to make jewelry beginning in 1981. Tatting uses a 2 ½-inch-long elliptical-shaped shuttle, which assists with tying tight, small knots in fiber. Truesdale explains that it is similar to macramé except the knots are tighter. She uses different colors of thread and beads to create one-of-a-kind earrings and necklaces. For holiday décor, originally designed tatted snowflakes are also a specialty of hers.
“I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when I finish,” Truesdale says. She also likes the idea of taking a simple ball of thread and making something beautiful and decorative. “I like seeing other people enjoy my products. It’s satisfying.”

FIBER CRAZE GONE VIRAL
Creating from fibers has seen resurgence.
“Knitting has gone crazy in the last 10 or so years. It’s the young people learning it, and I love seeing that,” Truesdale says.
The young folks want to weave as well, she says, adding that some of them want to take a break from technology to make something tangible. “You feel the fibers, see them intertwining and knotting; it’s such a great way to get away from technology.”
With that being said, the internet and social media can help a novice learn a new craft. YouTube videos have become popular for teaching just about anything. And Pinterest is now a household name giving people ideas, techniques and guidance in endless artistic expressions.
For knitters, Ravelry social media website is massive, Truesdale says.
“You can search patterns from around the world,” she says. Social media has made everything more accessible, and the designers can be contacted to answer questions. “You’re not alone out there.”
For someone geared toward hands-on learning, New View FiberWorks artisans offer classes in crocheting, knitting, weaving, spinning and tatting. They ask people interested in learning a craft to sign up, and they will schedule a class when enough people are interested. Classes are limited to four students so everyone gets one-on-one attention.
New View FiberWorks is at 22696 Washington St., Leonardtown. Learn more at 301-475-FUZZ or newviewfiberworks.com. •