Artist Rita Smith calls her South Bay Studio on the Long Beach Peninsula “a weaver’s haven.” It has five spinning wheels, five looms and multiple accessories in this cozy space.

Fiber artists’ stories vary, but their commitment to learning, and a desire to find a new outlet for creativity, is a common theme.

Rita Smith, a retired school teacher, is known for acting and directing in community theater productions with the Peninsula Players, and performing with two musician friends as the Oyster Crackers. She is among those who will be teaching mini workshops at the Columbia Pacific Fiber Arts Festival.

“When I retired from teaching, I decided to try my hand at spinning,” she said. “I always enjoyed watching people at the county fair spinning, usually in the sheep barn.

“So I bought a spinning wheel, a book and some fiber, sat down with the book on my lap and started teaching myself to spin.

“My good friend, Rose, told me how relaxing spinning is — but after 20 minutes every muscle in my body ached!

“Over time, spinning did become a very relaxing activity with coffee or wine and friends.

“After a few years of spinning, another good friend of mine said I should try my hand at weaving. I now have a beautiful studio, South Bay Studio, with five spinning wheels, five looms and many accessories to support my hobby.

“So, although this art was not a family tradition, it has become a tradition for me.”

— Patrick Webb

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