Margaret Charlton and the shawl she knitted for the touch table in the Thread Studio

Knitter 'Yarn Bombs' Touch Table in the Thread Studio

Note: The Thread Studio, Textile Art Gallery, and PreVIEW Open Window will be closed for installation August 8–September 10.

The Nancy Lake Benson Thread Studio, on level 6 of the North Building, hosts a corps of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer artists. They share their love of textiles and fiber with visitors by demonstrating various textile techniques, offering touchable fibers (sometimes quite unusual, like fur from different breeds of dog), and sharing in their own experiments—one artist taught herself kumihimo, the complex art of Japanese braiding, in conjunction with the museum’s recent Samurai exhibition.

Margaret Charlton (pictured above) was interested in softening the Thread Studio’s interactive touch table kiosk, so she “yarn bombed” it—in a thoughtful way that involved visitors.

“It started with finding the fiber at one of our local spinning, fiber, and yarn stores: Blazing Star Ranch,” Margaret said. “The fiber was a progressively dyed Bluefaced Leicester roving, made by Frabjous Fibers. I got 8 ounces of the fiber and prepared it for spinning in a fractal 2-ply so that I would get combinations of all the colors from the lightest to the darkest.

“Since I knew the finished piece would be on display in the Thread Studio, I made the yarn while I was there demonstrating hand-spinning. Then I knit the shawl using the Saranac Shawl pattern by Kirsten Kapur. The finished shawl weighs about 5 ounces. Overall the project took about 10 months, starting in May of 2015, when I found the fiber and ending in February of 2016, when the shawl was hung in the Thread Studio.”

Margaret’s piece will be on view through August 7, 2016. When the Thread Studio reopens, Margaret and her fellow volunteer artists will reveal a new collaborative “yarn bomb” on the touch table that takes inspiration from Shock Wave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980s–90s, which opens September 11.

Stefania Van Dyke is the interpretive specialist, textile art and special projects. Her favorite email subject line during the course of planning Star Wars and the Power of Costume was “Missing Dianoga.”

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