2019 Virginia Olson Competition

Each year members are encouraged and challenged to create projects for the Virginia Olson Competition held in May. This year’s committee members were Karen Agee, Pat Higby, Linda Miller, and Renee Smith. They chose the theme “Natural Iowa.” Members were asked to exult in the colors of Iowa, seek out some fibers produced here, or give the phrase your own spin and then make something wonderful. Guild members chose their favorites in each of the seven categories by popular vote.

Kären Homan wove her scarf using colors which reminded her of autumn in Iowa. She chose a pattern which was recently featured on the cover of Handwoven magazine. Her creation received the most votes in the weaving category.

Kären with her scarf

Only skeins made from Iowa fibers could be entered into the spinning category. Lynette Risse took home the certificate and the spinning wheel traveling trophy for spinning.

Lynette with her Iowa skein and traveling trophy

How can Iowa’s natural beauty be represented through knit or crochet? Nancy Simet chose colors and patterns which reminded voters of Iowa’s green and gold waves of grass and grain.

Nancy with her knitted entry

Daisy Murfey didn’t need to go very far to find inspiration for representing the Iowa she saw in felt. It was swimming around in her fish bowl. We never know what might spark our creativity!


Daisy with her award and felted fish

A new category for this year was lace, using string and spaces of Iowa in a lace structure. Karen Agee recreated the ripples and currents of the Cedar River for her blue knitted lace scarf, which was chosen by the members to receive the award.


Karen models her lace scarf.

The basketry category for this year had a new twist. Baskets were to be made from local materials or in a uniquely Iowa style. Deanna Hanson went above and beyond with her basket. The handle and rim were made from local grapevines, and the staves were red oster she gathered last spring in Cedar Falls. The basket’s embellishments included corn husks and acorns from Iowa’s state tree, the oak.


Deanna’s basket was made mainly with materials she collected in Iowa.

Read the note describing the basket!

The dye category called for the use of Iowa’s natural materials. One thing we had plenty of this past winter was SNOW! Becky Metcalf took advantage of the plentiful resource for her snow dyed bag.


Becky with her colorfully dyed bag

Karla Stille was chosen by the Virginia Olson Committee to receive the Audrey Stevens Craftsmanship Award. This honor is given for exceptional craftsmanship in a woven item submitted to the Virginia Olson Competition. Karla found an oak leaf on a trail in Cedar Falls. She used it as the model for her tapestry, showing the size and shape of a leaf from Iowa’s state tree.

Karla received the Audrey Stevens Award for her tapestry.

Thanks to all those who entered items in the competition and shared their stories with us. Thanks also to the committee for organizing this annual event.

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