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Spinning a Yarn at Slater Mill

Knitting guru and RISD alum Margery Winter will speak at Slater Mill’s Knitting Weekend on January 19

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In the storied career that designer, knitting expert and celebrated artist Margery Winter has woven for herself, the city of Providence has featured as a key motif. Fans of Winter’s work and writing will soon be able to hear her tell her story, in her own words, as the opening night Designer Salon speaker for Slater Mill’s Tenth Knitting Weekend (1/17–1/22), the annual convocation for “knitters, fiber enthusiasts, and fiber arts practitioners.”

Winter earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at RISD and currently resides in Providence with her husband, painter Milo Winter. Her talk, “A Single Strand Comes Full Circle,” will share anecdotes about her years as editor in chief for Vogue Knitting, Family Circle Knitting and Verena Knitting, as well as her work for yarn companies Filatura di Crosa, Lion Brand and Berroco and developing the Adrienne Vittadini Yarn Collection. She will also discuss her more recent forays into evocative artwork that integrates the materials, techniques and lore of her artistic passion.

Winter learned to knit and crochet by observing her grandmother, Ethel: “As I remember there were no words, only watching, copying and mastering. I was totally fascinated with the sticks, hooks and the infinite possibilities of a single strand of yarn fed from a pull skein of Coats & Clark knitting worsted from the five and dime.”

She launched into knitting and sewing her own clothes and continued through her teen years and beyond, but at RISD, she opted to major in painting. In 2014, following an eventful and successful career of more than 40 years, Winter returned once more to the canvas, experimenting with out-of-the-box material combinations of yarn, human and synthetic hair, paint, markers, and needle and thread.

“My intent is to invite the viewer to experience the sensation of touch without actually touching,” she explains. “With the eyes, one can explore the fiber landscape, intuit the quiet fullness of felted wool, sense the weight and defiance of drape that knitted felted fabric embodies.” Her work is meant to communicate “what resonates with me about today’s cultural landscape and the magic that comes from manipulating natural and manmade materials.”

Being able to speak at Slater Mill, a historic part of the Industrial Revolution, is especially powerful given Winter’s appreciation for and fascination with Providence’s rich textile manufacturing history. One series of her felted tapestries was meant to embody “the demolition, reconstruction and restoration of historical textile and jewelry mill buildings.” The loft at Imperial Place where she lives and works was once a part of Fruit of the Loom, and the company left its mark on the building in physically tangible ways: “Decades of machine oil stain the floor.”

“We live amongst the ghosts of the Industrial Revolution,” she explains. “I work on my fiber art with primitive tools, very slowly and thoughtfully, while out my window I watch our district being transformed into a mecca for education and science” – what is now being referred to as Providence’s Knowledge District.

To attend the ticketed designer salon and hear Margery speak on January 19, purchase tickets here or call 725-8638 ext. 108.