This year we journey together to explore our knitting roots and learn more about knitters and designers of many different backgrounds. As part of this project, I’ve created a series of guest posts to introduce you to designers who are women of color. In this post, the fifth post in the series, we meet Maxcine DeGouttes and learn about the Kings County Fiber Festival in Brooklyn, NY, plus lots more.
The Color of Fiber – A Celebration of the Handmade
by Maxcine DeGouttes
with photos by Mildred Salas Photography
I invite you to this beautiful Brooklyn, New York park in autumn when the leaves are beginning to change to their sugary pinks, golds, and chartreuses. For the past six years the foliage formed a stunning backdrop to the many layers of vibrant, rich colors and textures during the Kings County Fiber Festival. Fiber artists of all crafts gather annually on Columbus Day Weekend Saturday at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn to sell their fibers, yarn, fiber products, tools, and supplies.
Last year as I visited with the vendors who were catching up with one another on the year gone by as they set up their colorful booths, I realized that we had become a community. This event supports each of these artist’s desires, goals, and imagination with creative exchange and commerce. Fiber has always been a favored material within the Do-It-Yourself tribe—from the realization of felt as the original fabric to the evolution of colorful dyes.
The Kings County Fiber Festival exists to embrace, explore and nurture the elements of an idea to support creating beauty with our own hands. It is an open-air fiber marketplace that is not confined by the boundaries and obligations of walls. I launched it in order to expand the walls of my brick and mortar business with new textures and talents, and as a way to cast the net of my own craft to a wider audience.
I began knitting when I was very young—it was the first skill I ever asked to be taught—and by the time I was eleven years-old I was viewed as a strong knitter. My first student was my Junior High School Home Economics teacher. I enjoyed making beautiful things, and continued to learn new stitches and patterns year after year. I realized at a point when my career in publishing branched in a direction that didn’t feel true to me that what I had so long viewed as a hobby truly made up the fabric of my life. I was no hobbyist. With this self-understanding, and the decades of practice and knowledge, I dove into creating a retail and teaching business around my craft.
When the challenges of a storefront demanded creative thinking, I turned to the craft again to stitch together a new piece of tapestry, weaving other artists textures and colors with my own in celebration of the handmade. The Kings County Fiber Festival is comprised of a growing number of artists who hold fascinating day jobs, and breathe beautiful life into the event. This one Saturday annually marks the convergence of passion and practice, the heart and the hands.
Follow the hashtags #CelebrationoftheHandmade and #KingsCountyFiberFestival to see what people are sharing, and be sure to check out the stunning array of colors, textures, and beautiful artists and visitors from last year’s Festival!