The National NeedleArts Association's NeedleArts Zone at Maker Faire Detroit was once again the place to be the last weekend of July! Seventy volunteers in 17 hours taught at least 1,250 new needle artists across the various skills of knitting, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch, spinning, and our latest, tatting. Even though we had a slow start on Saturday morning, traffic picked up and kept us hopping the rest of the weekend. Having a little rain on Sunday didn’t hurt at all, either!
The Henry Ford Museum gave us even more space this year, allowing us lots of room to spread out. We had 80 chairs, but ran out often, so some students and teachers ended up sitting on the floor. No one was turned away for lack of a chair. (Next year, definitely more chairs!)
We earned a blue ribbon for Maker of Merit, bringing our total blue and red ribbon count over the 6 years to 15! These ribbons are given by editors and other staff members of Make Magazine, whose standards are pretty high. We have won several each for Maker of Merit, Editor’s Choice, Education Award, and one for Best in Class.
Our area inside the Museum is lots of fun. We are located between the vintage cars and the vintage aircraft. The staff at The Henry Ford Museum are fun, too. They drive John Deere “Gators” to transport the Makers’ boxes and people around the vast grounds. My Gator driver one day was their Director of Marketing and Licensing. “Everyone gets into the fun at Maker Faire,” she said, adding she’d only learned to drive a Gator that morning.
"Celebrity" visitors to The NeedleArts Zone included this Sam the Eagle/Stormtrooper hybrid. Darth Vader dropped by earlier in the day, but didn't stop for a photo. R2D2 raced by frequently, here seen with Millie Judd, one of our knitting, crochet and spinning teachers.
These two young ladies made the rounds of the entire area, learning everything — including finger-knitting, which wasn’t even on the roster! Here they are on their final lesson (tatting) with teacher Andrea Grace. They kept checking with us to be sure they hadn’t missed anything. Maybe next year, they will be back to help us teach!
At the request of a local guild, we added tatting to our teaching repertoire, and it was definitely a hit. The dedicated teachers added about 150 new tatters to the world! Many of our teachers (me, too) wanted to learn as well, but none of us had time — next year, for sure!
Thanks go to Lacis, Clover and Bryson Distributing for lots of tatting shuttles, Aurora Yarns for #10 crochet cotton, and Kreinik Manufacturing for various specialty threads.
Doug Kreinik of Kreinik Manufacturing joined us again this year, making friendship bracelets with his sparkly threads and cool twisted thread tool. He lost count, but figured 250 to 300 bracelets. That’s a lot of winding!
A butterfly tatted out of Doug’s 1/16” gold braid!
A relatively quiet moment in the knit and crochet area.
This young lady not only learned how to knit, but made herself a scarf out of one ball of yarn! She was pretty proud of herself, and rightly so!
One couple had a great time and learned something to do together. Both were brand-new crochet students and look what they made after learning just single crochet! Yes, he made the squid and she made the rose (brain? cabbage?).
It was a struggle to find enough cross-stitch and needlepoint teachers, but we managed to teach a lot of people anyway. The robot canvas and charts were again huge hits, but thanks to a lot of donors, we had a larger selection of canvases to choose from. Beth Gantz, Carol Gantz and Barbara Bergsten joined us to teach, and the Gantzes brought canvases that disappeared quickly into new stitchers’ hands!
Big, big thanks also go to Westminster Fibers for their very big contribution of charts with wide appeal. Our regular teachers were amazed and thrilled when they saw them!
The cross-stitch and needlepoint area, with a little knitting thrown in. Charlene Hatfield of Stitch in Time (standing in black and white, above), was working toward her goal of 365 new knitters.
The spinning area was hopping, as usual.
We’ve already got plans to improve next year, and our Maker Faire contact at The Henry Ford said “I like it!” so I think it’s a go. We’ll have an additional area where students, once they’ve gotten the basics down, can go sit and practice, without tying up a teacher. All those people who wander by and ask whether they can hang out and stitch with us (they all have their projects with them) can join us there. One or two multi-skilled teachers can be on hand to answer questions and help with any problems — yet more exposure!
The NeedleArts Zone at Maker Faire is truly a fun place, even during set up and tear down. But it’s not just fun. We teach a lot of people, we engender a lot of goodwill toward needlearts and TNNA, and everyone who gets involved feels so very good about it all.
Daniel Judd and Derand Love pumping up our yarn ball. It later gets wrapped in a knitted strip so it looks more like yarn, and is attached to our 10-ft long knitting needles.
Almost finished setting up! Erika Pfeiffer putting away the extra knitting needles.
A parting wave from Toby Pfeiffer (14), who made 100 drop spindles for us this year. This is his third year participating! It’s a very large box, but I still wasn’t sure how he folded himself up into it since he’s grown about 5” since last year.