HARRISVILLE — Lis Barsuglia-Madsen never has to worry about getting enough fiber.
The textile artist, who works with fibers from animals as diverse as musk oxen and alpacas, said she loves her job of designing and creating a panoply of clothing and accessories.
"I think it's great to have a variety — that way you never get bored," she said. "I'm very fortunate to be in this business."
Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen, who is primarily a spinner, weaver and knitter, works with her husband, Michael Barsuglia, to create and sell all manner of scarves, sweaters, table runners, headbands, handbags and rugs as well as hats featuring designs such as stars, dancing women, sheep, reindeer, pine trees, acorns and vibrant autumn leaves.
Born in Korsor, a small fishing village in Denmark, Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen moved to America in 1977 and to her solar-powered log home in the Adirondacks 15 years ago. She first became interested in fibers and textiles as a child in Korsor.
"My mom was a spinner, weaver and knitter, and I took classes in school," she said, adding that she and her friends would often meet to drink tea and share patterns passed down from their grandmothers. "Knitting was banned from school (outside of knitting classes), but we would still do it underneath the desk."
While Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen does not keep animals for wool, she does wash, card and spin much of the fiber she obtains from a variety of local sources. She works with a wide variety of materials, including lamb's wool, lopi (traditional Icelandic lightly spun yarn), alpaca, mohair, chenille, silk and cotton.
According to the artist, specialized mills allow weavers and knitters endless choices of fiber today. Her project of the moment is spinning yak hair and cashmere, all of which she dyes herself.
"I love to play with colors," she said. "I'm dying all my yarn now so I get what I want. It's a lot of fun because I can play with colors and get ones that I can't find in stores."
Recently, Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen participated in a four-day demonstration of Swedish rag rug weaving on a Glimakra loom at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
"It went fabulously," Susan Dineen, the museum's director of marketing, said. "She's been demonstrating for us for years and years."
Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen will appear at the museum again Saturday to participate in its Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival as one of the 30 to 40 shows she attends each year. Although her only educational event in Blue Mountain Lake was the August rag rug demonstration, she also teaches children's classes at Ogdensburg's Remington Museum and Watertown's Jefferson County Historical Society.
"We make everything ourselves and it's rather time consuming, so we really don't have the time to be out teaching," she said. "I always try to encourage people and tell them where to go and how to get information, though."
Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen said textile arts are actually on the upswing despite an unexplained drop in popularity in the last generation. She is always learning new techniques and tricks; most recently, she began publishing patterns of her own creation.
For aspiring knitters and weavers, Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen suggested finding someone who can teach the art in person. She also recommended a book, "Learning to Weave" by Deborah Chandler as well as just browsing through how-to books.
"I think the key is to go to a bookstore and look through the books, and if one of them seems to be written the way you understand it, buy that one," she said. "Once you learn the basic technique, then you're set."
To view Ms. Barsuglia-Madsen's designs and to order online, visit www.scandinavianweaveandknit.com. Contact information for the artist, who will also make custom orders, is available on the Web site as well.