This Sunday, at Color Wheel Gallery in the Kingfield neighborhood, you can try your hand at braiding "scarves of peace" with Karen Lohn and Catherine Zdechlik, authors of Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World. All you need to do is to bring a five-yard length of any fiber, such as yarn, string, or strips of fabric or ribbon (1/4 inch wide). The scarves created during the event will eventually go to anyone who needs warmth, beauty, connection, or peace in their lives.
Lohn says the idea for the book came from two sources. One was from the connection she felt with people who sewed and knitted with her. The other inspiration came while on a trip with her sister through Asia. There, they became entranced by the silks of China and Hong Kong, by weaving cooperatives run by women in Thailand, and various other countries that each had their own history and tradition of working with fibers.
As a psychologist, Lohn discovered how working with fibers could help some of her patients. "It started sizzling in my mind," she says. She began looking and researching fibers, and decided she would write a book as a guide for therapists.
"As I did this, it grew and grew," she recalls. "I knew it was broader than a therapy kind of thing." She found that working with fibers carried a human connection universally across the globe.
During her research for the book, Lohn learned about Rapunzel scarves, which are very long and made of many fibers. "Knitters would get together and share leftover yarns," she says. The scarves are symbolic, as they contain fibers from many people. She took the practice and applied it to her book, where she uses contacts from across the globe.
Scarves of Peace is an offshoot of the book that accepts fiber donations (they have a supply from six continents), which are braided into scarves and sent to leaders negotiating peace. She asks participants for suggestions of where they want the scarves to go, and they've ended up being sent people such as Gabby Giffords, President Obama, and local leaders. Last March, the project sent nine scarves with the Echoes of Peace Choir to Kurdish Iraq.
In addition to leading the Scarves of Peace activity, Lohn and Zdechlik will be speaking about and reading from their book throughout the day.
Also at Color Wheel will be other women artisans working in mediums such as pottery, fair-trade sourced wool, beads, glass art, and more.
IF YOU GO:
2-6 p.m. Sunday, July 14
319 W. 46th St., Minneapolis