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Fiber Arts

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Today was the annual Wearable Arts Fashion Show put on by the Textile Arts Alliance, an organization affiliated with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Each year, it is family tradition that all three sisters get together with our to mom to attend the show, first browsing the vendors’ wares as early as we can manage (no small feat, as tardiness runs in the family) before sitting down to the catered lunch and watching the runway show.

The majority of the content of the runway show is geared more towards the less youthful attendees, of which there are plenty, but my mom has friends from her textile arts guild who exhibit at the event, so I always have a few people who I’m cheering on. This year, I was delighted to see more personally inspiring pieces and more outfits that I felt appealed to the show’s younger audience members.

This year in the vendor booths, there were three standout highlights for me. The first was an amazing alpaca handknit rug, made from yarn stocked by none other than the legendary shop Purl Soho! Local company Bag Smith, who sells the yarn directly as well, offers a delightfully soft mostly-alpaca blend yarn made for huge projects. It’s lofty and thicker than any other yarn I’ve seen before. I wanted the rug immensely, but I didn’t want to buy the finished product, I wanted to make one myself! It was a 2.5′ by 5 field of huge cream stitches with a scattering of dyed curly locks of wool in a tawny gold and a shimmering black. Absolutely stunning, and I wish I had taken a picture.

The second was an amazing collaborative piece done by multiple artists that incorporated the fascinating idea of non-restrictive blind hand stitching. The artists, blindfolded, added their hand each to one square of the later-constructed quilt piece with words given to them as inspiration for their motions. Once artist, in attendance today, remembered two of the words given: anger and joy. This was particularly interesting to me as someone with no experience hand stitching, because it seems to level the playing field as far as technique is concerned and place the emphasis on what art can portray to an audience and make them feel.
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The last piece was something I lusted after for my own wardrobe. It is utterly stunning in both its design and hand construction, and the effects that the artists at Art of Cloth are able to create with dye on fabric make the piece drool-worthy.

As an annual event, this one never lets me down. I recommend it to anyone who loves fiber or art and loves autumn in northern Ohio.

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