Knitting, boat-building Two longtime Maine traditions are topic of first Arts Night

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BATH – A centurieslong, time-stream of boat-building and knitting techniques will be the focus of Arts Night Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Patten Free Library.

With “400 Years of Craft and Industry along the Kennebec” as its theme, the program will feature Brenda Cummings of Bath introducing the subject and Robin Hansen of West Bath speaking on archaic knitting techniques peculiar to Maine and the Maritime Provinces.

The program will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The library is at 33 Summer St.

This is the first of the 2007 Arts Nights at the Library series, exploring stories of the rivers of our region and presented by Five Rivers Arts Alliance.

Beginning an exploration of the 400 years of skilled crafts developed along the Kennebec River Estuary, Cummings, a Phippsburg native, will introduce the Kennebec River crafts research. She is an amateur historian with an abiding interest in the lower Kennebec region. The building of small boats in this area will also be discussed.

Hansen will address traditional knitting techniques preserved in the folk medium in Maine, often considered a geographic pocket of traditional craft techniques and designs. She will show and talk about techniques used to make the fulled mittens worn wet by Maine fishermen, lumbermen’s mittens with a dense sewn-on pile, double-rolled knitting common in rural areas of Maine and the Maritimes, and an ingenious, finer, shagging technique seen in a pair of mittens discovered in a box at Kennebunk’s Brick Store Museum.

Hansen is known for stories she has collected about traditional handcraft. A folklorist, she has written articles and books on folklife and traditional knitting, including “Fox & Geese & Fences” (Down East 1983) and “Favorite Mittens” (Down East 2005) and the children’s knitting book “Sunny’s Mittens” (Down East, 1990). She wrote “Knit Mittens” (Storey, 2002) introducing an innovative presentation for knitting patterns and developed a vocabulary for twined knitting, a recently recovered traditional Swedish knitting technique. Her Pegglegged Ghost Greater Bath Area Folklore Survey (1999) has been the basis for the Bath Historical Society ghost walk. Her books will be available that evening.

Refreshments will be served. In the event of inclement weather, call 798-6964. Snow date is Wednesday, Feb. 14.

For more information, call Five Rivers Arts Alliance at 798-6964, or go online to www.fiveriversartsalliance.org.

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