Friend, mentor, artist and crafts devotee, Katharine Cobey of Cushing, Maine passed away December 5 with son William by her side.
Katharine has been a major figure in my life, and her presence, encouragement, wisdom, and knitting insights will be sorely missed. The first time I met Katharine, we were at the Union Fairgrounds. She was standing at a Great Wheel mesmerizing a crowd with her long draw spinning. Halfway across her booth, I stood riveted before an expanse of large, coffee-table-sized art books she had brought—in particular, COSTUME PATTERNS AND DESIGN (Max Tilke; Rizzoli Books). From 30 feet away, our eyes met, and she bellowed, “Forget patterns! Study shape.” I did go on to study “shape” and with it, knitting, spinning and Katharine’s inventive mind for the next 25 years. I traveled to her studio at the edge of Muscongus Bay witnessing wild fibers, bold designs and knitted sculpture. She helped found Maine Fiberarts, with husband David, as inaugural Board directors. We created beautiful displays at Maine Arts Festival, gathering up skeins of handspun yarns installed in the tent’s ceiling, for donating, afterwards, to the knitters of Bosnia. She installed her 30-foot handspun boat at Portland Museum of Art as part of our Maine Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival, and "Ritual Against Homelessness" at Portland's City Hall. She listed her studio on our Tour Maps, taught us brioche, and encouraged us to make work with meaning. We traveled to Penland and Haystack together; took a huge display of work—“Maine Values, Maine Wool”—to Maryland Sheep and Wool; and installed a complete fiber studio at Common Ground Fair. We had her work shown at The Farnsworth, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and Maine Fiberarts. We argued, laughed, discussed craft and creativity, and swam in the Bay together. She wrote the book DIAGONAL KNITTING and influenced artists worldwide. Knitting for over 50 years, her fiber work embraced sculpture and clothing, meaning and techniques, students and teachers. Her work has been exhibited nationally in museums, galleries and shows and is included in the book KNITTING IN AMERICA. Due to an important gift, part of her amazing library on cultures, knitting, design, feminism, and clothing will be housed at Maine Fiberarts.
—Christine Macchi

Cards may be sent to the family in care of Bill Edgar, 5815 Melvern Drive, Bethesda, MD  20817.



Art quilts, needle cases, punch work pillows. Small hooked works that depict the shops and galleries along the Rue de Boulogne in Paris. Beaded work, paintings, ikat fabric bags. Organza neck wraps, Emi scarves!, rose petal paper journals. Woven scarves, felted cuffs, our newest book! Take a tour through our Online Art Shop and find a unique, handmade treasure! New work is still being added.

Work in our Shop starts at $15! (beautiful fabric needle cases—only 3 left). Purchasing work from our Shop encourages us all to keep going. Thanks in advance.


— Handfelted brooch by Judith Daniels.



Maine Fiberarts really needs your financial support this year. Current funds will take us through Spring 2021 only, as the pandemic has curtailed sales of artwork, grant awards, and support from visitors. Our work to support Maine artists—involving exhibitions, publications, photography, site visits, web presence, and promotion—remain free to all who benefit and are only supported by those who care.

Please consider sending a year-end check to Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main Street, Topsham, ME 04086 or use this link.

In addition to adding lots of new items to the Holiday 2020 Online Art Shop, here are some of the other accomplishments this year:

  • paid artists for work sold at the end of 2019;
  • participated in Barb Taylor’s sewing group and Katharine Cobey’s knitting sessions;
  • visited and photographed “Common Threads of Maine” in Biddeford, see the Fiber Folio story;
  • attended a huge gathering of photographers to hear John Paul Caponigro speak (in person! March!);
  • honored Governor Mills’ directive to remain at home (6 weeks starting in March) and closed our gallery to the public;
  • canceled plans for an exhibit with Studio Art Quilt Associates, Northeast Feltmakers Guild, and Rug Hooking Week in Ohio (with all the sponsors we’d been hoping for);
  • applied for funding through the Paycheck Protection Plan and Maine Arts Commission to successfully retain our Director and Assistant;
  • created and posted “Outside the Circle,” a virtual gallery of felted work by Northeast Feltmaker members (still available for a short time);
  • created and posted “Home Work,” a little image gallery showing work being done by members and friends during the pandemic;
  • successfully raised funds to meet our benefactor’s match for Year Four of Four;
  • wrote, submitted grants to and were rejected by: Maine Humanities Council, Onion Foundation, Maine Economic Recovery Act;
  • met with Board of Directors to plan our direction during the pandemic;
  • converted a cargo van into "Craft Traveler" (to avoid hotels) and traveled Central Maine seeking fiber artists. Posted a series of four stories about “Summer Travels” on our Fiber Folio, Part I starts here;
  • finalized  “Learning Fiber Art: A Guide to Maine Teaching Resources” including information for 100 fiber art instructors, a list of “Retreats and Residencies,” and ten “legacy locations;”
  • made both a downloadable and page turning PDF of the Guide available online, and mounted a campaign to raise funds for printing;
  • expecting our first 250 copies of the Learning Guide to be delivered and distributed before the end of the month;
  • began a project to create online “tutorials”—artists showing fiber techniques—to be added to a new section of our website;
  • starting the planning process of finding the best ways to to promote and represent Maine artists, teachers, masters, fiber producers, learning centers, in creative ways, possibly through individual profiles and web galleries;
  • always answering calls and email questions about how to sell used equipment, who to recommend for teaching or mending, where to find a fiber artist, what to see when traveling Maine, how to find an artist’s book, setting up appointments (within pandemic safety guidelines), and many more;
  • stepped up our communication efforts with the public and our members with newsletters and social media announcements

—Handmade paper art book by Arlene Morris; scarves by Kathy Goddu (on our Shop).

To remember Katharine Cobey, please post your stories to the digital Memory Wall at Hall's Funeral Home in Waldoboro.
Copyright © 2020 Maine Fiberarts, All rights reserved.

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