As always, the annual Fiber College of Maine will be in session the weekend after Labor Day at Searsport Shores Ocean Park and Campground, 216 West Main St./Route 1. It opens Wednesday, Sept. 5, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 9.

Fiber College’s mission is to further the education of creative pursuits for beginning and highly trained artists alike. The largest fiber arts education gathering on the East Coast, it offers classes in all things fiber — knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning, fiber preparation, rug hooking, quilting, lace making, chain mail, wood- and metalworking and more — including, new this year, 3D printing and plasma cutting, stretching the “fiber” envelope.

The focus of Fiber College 2018 is mindfulness — to be aware, conscious, alive, alert. There will be opportunities to participate in crafts that will be appropriate for both beginners and advanced artists, with the hope that attendees of all ages will find something interesting to try. And because art should always include music, there will be live performances by the Miners Creek Bluegrass Band, Chris Brine, James Hyland and friends.

Also part of the gathering are fiber animals — sheep, goats and more. And Fiber College founder and Searsport Shores co-founder Astrig Tanguay’s gardens are full of plants that can be used for dyeing fibers.

Fiber artist and author Katharine Cobey of Cushing, a Maine Master Craft Artist, will be fiber artist in residence. Cobey has taught for the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Split Rock Arts Program, Vogue Live, New England Knitting Lab, Surface Design Association and many museums and arts programs around the country. She will lead a two-day knitting immersion Wednesday and Thursday, as well as presenting a slide talk on Why Craft Matters Friday evening; and a casual “porch knit” on the final day.

On the opening day, Sept. 5, there will be a Southern American Drinks & Dinner event, followed by an evening presentation with world traveler and backstrap weaver Lavern Waddington. Born in India and raised in Australia, Waddington has lived in South America since 1993, most of that time in Bolivia. She said the land-locked country is a perfect base from which to travel and continue learning to weave, braid and spin, as it shares borders with Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. She also has traveled to learn weaving techniques in Ecuador and Guatemala.

“‘Basic, crude, primitive’ – these are all words that may spring to mind when one thinks of the humble backstrap loom – a description that obscures the fact that some of history’s most beautiful and complex textiles have been woven on this simple arrangement of sticks,” Waddington said of her chosen medium.

Small, portable and inexpensive, the backstrap loom is ideal for those who lack the space for a table or floor loom; would like to be able to take their weaving “on the road” with them; or simply do not have the means to invest in more sophisticated equipment. Waddington will be teaching this intriguing ancient art in both an intensive two-day class Sept. 5 and 6; and introductory three-hour classes Sept. 7 and 8. When not teaching, she will be found weaving on the porch.

Fiber College’s hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, the free-admission Market Day, and Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Fiber College is hosted by Makers Guild of Maine, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. For more information and the full schedule of classes and events, visit