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Cowee School to host Quilt & Fiber festival this weekend

By Kristin Fox

Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center, Cowee Textiles and the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild have teamed up to put on the first ever Cowee Valley Quilt & Fiber Celebration on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center, 51 Cowee School Drive, Franklin.

The two-day event will showcase local fiber artists who will demonstrate, display and sell handcrafted goods. Several vendors selling items related to textile arts, including quilts, felt, weaving, beading, knitting, supplies and more will be at the celebration. In addition, there will be several demonstrations of these textile arts.

Our heritage events are an important part of what we do here at Cowee School,” said Laura Brooks, Executive Director of the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. “It is part of our mission to preserve and promote heritage arts and make them relevant to future generations. Events like the annual Folk Festival have become so popular and well-attended that it made sense to add more events during the year that focus on specific heritage arts & crafts. We hope to show people how fun it is to participate in textile arts and let them meet and learn about the groups and classes that wehave here at Cowee School.

The event will offer two full days of activities. A quilt display will be featured on both Friday and Saturday. Resident artisans will also be open both days. The celebration will include silkworms, a theme basket walk, chance to win a Singer Featherweight, sheep to shawl, vendors, fiber animals, raffle and door prizes.

Friday will be a “workshop day” with several classes that people can register for to learn more in depth skills on textile arts. Friday will feature three workshops – “Get Weaving,” “Embellished Knitting,” and “Whimsical Felted Flowers: An Introduction to Wet Felting.” Registration is required for the workshops and can completed at

Beginning at 10:30 a.m., Friday’s first workshop will be a live Zoom call with Sarah Howard in the UK for “Get Weaving,” which will teach participants all about weaving their own fabric and creating custom garments. The class can be joined from anywhere, but as a part of the celebration the class will be shown at Cowee School.

Topics will include: Planning your weaving – yarns, setts, pattern fitting; Weaving your fabric – threading a mixed warp, warp separators, tension; and Sewing your garment – cutting out, sewing tips, finishes, fastenings. Cost for the workshop is $20. Howard will be available during the class to chat and answer questions as well as try to help participants with questions about weaving problems.

Howard lives in England and has a large following in the United States. She is the co-author of three weaving books: Simply Woven, Creative Weaving, and Get Weaving. Limited copies of her new book Get Weaving: Clothing from your Rigid Heddle Loom will be available for sale after the workshop. For more information on Howard, visit her YouTube channel – she has a wealth of information on weaving & sewing.

From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Charles Gandy will teach “Embellished Knitting,” a workshop exploring creativity in yarn for advanced beginner or intermediate level knitters. Cost of the workshop is $70. Instructions for homework to be completed before attending and material needed to take part in the class will be sent to all students.

The workshop will be a chance to learn numerous ways to enhance your knitted creations through applied embellishments, from an award-winning master knitter.From frilly ruffles to bobbles to twists and ripples, I-cords, special “finger” cords and even beading, participants will explore, through a hands-on sampler, how these techniques can make their projects unique and knitted with personality.

Charles Gandy is a master knitter with The Knitting Guild Association and two-time winner in Knitter’s Magazine “Think Outside the Sox” contest. He will sign copies of his book The Embellished Sock: Knitted Art for the Foot which features eighteen creative patterns and numerous techniques.

Sponsored by Local Cloth, Friday’s third workshop will also be held at 1:00 p.m. Ruth Duckworth will teach “Whimsical Felted Flowers: An Introduction to Wet Felting.” The cost of the workshop $65 which includes a $10 supply fee for wool. Participants need to bring an old towel; All other supplies will be provided.

The workshop will explore the art of wet felting with multicolored dyed wool. Participants will learn how to create felted flower masterpieces inspired by theirfavorite blooms; the created flower can be made into a pin or used to embellish a hat, scarf or bag. The workshop will start off getting a feel for the felting process by first making a bookmark.

Ruth Duckworth is a self-proclaimed “Fiberholic” whose fiber journey began as a young child when she was gifted an “easy weaver.” Over the years, she has explored anything fiber related including spinning, weaving, felting, hat making, quilting, and paper making. She has been an educator in the Swannanoa Valley for over 30 years and has taught crafts at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, Montreat, and Camp Rockmont. Her studio is located at the Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League Red House Studios and Galleries where she was Artist in Residence in 2019.

Saturday will be more of a typical festival day, with vendors, demonstrations, kids’ crafts & activities, fiber animals and so much more. In addition, there will be a fashion show on Saturday featuring handmade clothing, accessories, and other textile related items.

To register for the fashion show, contact Teresa Bouchonnet at The fashion show will be limited to first 20 registrants, all items must be made in the last three years.

Mark your calendars for Franklin’s newest festival, the Cowee Valley Quilt & Fiber Celebration. For more information or to register for the workshops visit the If you have questions, please contact organizers at, or call the school at (828) 3694080.

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