Hoschton arts center highlights fiber in our lives

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Karen Beckstine of Mockingbird Hilltop Farm and Sawmill demonstrated how to knit. She is also offering classes through the Hoschton Heritage Arts Center.

The Hoschton Heritage Arts Center, located at 74 White St., in Hoschton, hosted its Fiber Arts Exhibit over the weekend highlighting the importance of fiber in our lives and the transformation fiber must go through to become clothing and other useful items.

From feed sacks to hats, from handwoven blankets to quilts, from hip clothing from the 1960s to delicate embroidered home decor, the exhibit had local connections to business, industry and families.

Walking from room to room, guests could see Karen Beckstine of Mockingbird Hilltop Farm and Sawmill demonstrating how to knit. She also talked about Alpaca and Mohair yarn and how it is readied after being sheared, washed and prepared for knitting. Ogeal Webster had a demonstration setup of weaving.

The weekend netted two new memberships and forged a working relationship with a local Brownie Troop. One young exhibit-goer signed up for a knitting class and the gift shop made $300. “I think it was a marvelous weekend,” said HHAC board president Robbie Bettis.

Those contributing items to be displayed for the exhibit were Dianne Blankenship, Lynn Page, Astra Graham, Jo Nan Watwick, Dawn Warwick, Len Sturkie, Braselton Antique Mall and Auction Ventures.

Fiber Arts Exhibit

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Feed sacks, including one from Woodruff Fertilizer in Winder and another from Enterprise Mill in Braselton, were displayed. Enterprise Mill was located in the building which the town has painted white with red accents.
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In the knitting room, Karen Beckstine shows what alpaca fiber looks like after it is sheared from the animal but before it is washed and dried and readied for knitting.
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Alpaca fiber comes in lots of natural colors but can also be dyed. Karen Beckstein and her daughter Rochelle fashion a variety of garments and accessories from the fiber.
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The spinning wheel has a bullet hole which reportedly dates back to the War Between the States.
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These handmade animals pointed to the popularity of fiber obtained from llamas and alpacas. Alpacas gained popularity in the 1980s when they were brought to the United States.
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Karen Beckstein of Mockingbird Hilltop Farm demonstrated. On their family-run farm on Pocket Road in Braselton, the Becksteins have angora goats and alpacas. They shear their own animals and offer the service to the surrounding area. They process the fiber: washing, picking, carding and spinning the fiber it is dyed it and knitted or crocheted into a finished garment. Some of their fiber is shipped to American processors to be spun it into yarn. The family offers classes in fiber arts.
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The Becksteins got their firest alpacas in 2002 when they got the toy alpaca which was displayed.
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In the entry was a display featuring men's hats and the products necessary to construct the hat. Advertising was also displayed. One of the hats belonged to W.C. Squire who wore it for his wedding in October of 1892. Dianne Blankenship made the item available.
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This horse hair lap robe was used by Dr. Ralph Freeman Sr., as he traveled around Hoschton meeting the needs of the sick from 1910-1937. He served on the Hoschton City Council and served as mayor for several terms.
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An old-timey sewing machine.
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A collection of sewing notions and patterns could be seen.
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Ogeal Webster looks at the display of old sewing baskets, zippers, buttons and other sewing supplies.
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These blankets were woven in Boston using wool sheared from sheep on the Freeman farm by Sam Freeman and Ralph Freeman Jr.
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Ogeal Webster talked about the looms and spinning wheels her mother and grandmother had in their Tennessee homes to handweave the family's bed blankets and other textiles and clothing. The blanket she displayed dates to the 1850s. She said goldenrod, clover and walnuts were among the items used for dying the fibers. Vinegar and salt were used in hot water to set the color. Today, we can't relate to the work that went into their efforts.
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A collection of different types of needles -- some used in upholstering automobile and airline seats -- were displayed.
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In the kitchen, this Ironrite machine was similar to one that was sold at the Braselton Brothers Store. Other irons, starch, dyes and an old wash pot were displayed in the kitchen.
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Tableclothes and a portion of Robbie Bettis' apron collection were also displayed in the kitchen of the Hoschton Heritage Arts Center.
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Upstairs one of the rooms featured fashions from the 1970s including madras plaid and leisure suits. A sailor suit pointed to the fact that the use of sizing of clothing resulted from the military needing a means of standardizing uniforms in the late 1800s so that soldiers and sailors could get replacement uniforms at different duty stations.
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Robbie Bettis points to a little boy's suit made by Jo Nan Warwick, who donated a number of items for display at the exhibit.
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The framed outfit was worn by Ralph Freeman when he was a child. The photograph below shows the young Freeman being held by his mother, wife of Dr. Ralph Freeman Sr.
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A variety of children's outfits were displayed including the peach-colored dress worn by a young Robbie Bettis.
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Lynn Page crafted this tribute to the Town Towers after 9/11.
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This doilies are have the name "antimacassar" because there was a man's hair product named Macassar which left residue on upholstery so women used doilies on the back of chairs to protect the fabric. Doilies were also used as decorative covers on top of dressers and tables.
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Some doilies were tatted and others were solid cotton accented with tatting.
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The burgundy room showed examples of needlepoint, cross stitch, macrame and other crafts.
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Robbie Bettis in the quilt room.
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Robbie Bettis shows a quilt made in the 1940s which was included in the Georgia Quilt Project, March 27, 1992, as No. 6389. It was crafted by her grandmother, Mollie Langford of Hoschton. The quilt was a wedding present.
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A variety of quilt tops and barn quilt squares on the wall were displayed.
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Squares which have yet to be made into a quilt.
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This was likely a drape on a coffin. It has 43 stars i ncluding a gold star. Its owner is not certain of its origin but is curious. Can you help solve the mystery? Contact the Hoschton Heritage Arts Center at 706-654-2693.
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Garments from different periods of history were displayed.
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Clothing showed the trends in fashion. One display highlighted Fawn Togs which made children's clothing at its Braselton plant, now the location of A Flea An'tique.
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The assortment of handiwork showed how fiber was used to bring beauty to the home and to fashion.