Fiber to Market
The purpose of this class was to provide information and support for fiber producers wishing to learn what it takes to make a useable/marketable yarn from their fiber. Taught by Mary Pettis-Sarley of Twirl Yarn at her ranch and studio in Napa, the class gave students a first-hand look at the methods and materials used by a producer who has developed a successful yarn product, now sold both locally and internationally.
Grazing for Diversity & Resilience
This hands-on course in strategic grazing for enhancing pasture health and ecosystem function, was taught by farmer and experienced grazing manager Willie Reid, sheep rancher Aaron Gilliam, and Gallagher fencing specialist Randy Bailey. Students were taught about ecologic and economic resilience via the enhancement of biological diversity that is generated from a grazing management plan, thus reducing dependence on imported feed by growing healthier, more abundant pasture that holds up to both floods and droughts. Grazing with portable electric fencing also allows for a diversity of plant species to thrive, which in turn supports a diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.
For thousands of years, natural dyes have connected the artisan with the natural world. It wasn’t until around 150 years ago that synthetic dyes were introduced, and in that short time they have caused immense environmental damage. Fibershed’s natural dye workshops have included the use of plants, fungi and lichens as sources of botanical color. We teach these and other skills to engender a thriving bioregional textile culture that functions hand-in-hand with principles of ecological balance, local economies, and regional organic agriculture.
Indigo Composting Shed
Rowland Ricketts, Assistant Professor at Indiana University, was trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan. We were fortunate to have him lead a small group of participants through the process of layering the necessary materials to create a natural floor surface for composting dried indigo leaves, similar to composting floors that have been used for hundreds of years in Japan. The composting floor is essential in transforming summer-harvested indigo leaf into sukumo, the composted leaf matter used to create a fermentation indigo dye vat.
Making a Felted Vest
This workshop has been a repeat success, giving students the opportunity to spend time at Bodega Pastures, a working sheep ranch, and making for themselves a customized and stylish felt vest from the ranch’s finest sheep’s wool. Taught by felt artist Katharine Jolda, who makes felt apparel from both Navajo and Bay Area wools and understands her felt practice as a creative form of “direct action” that builds reciprocal and honorable relationships to serve practical needs.
The Fibershed Yurt
In a series of workshops during the summer of 2013, the Fibershed community built a yurt featuring local wool from Bodega Pastures and Valley Ford Wool Mill. The yurt is a beautiful and unique structure whose walls are covered with felt panels made of local wool fiber. Made of renewable resources, the yurt can be used as a mobile classroom, and it is also a model for temporary farmworker or refugee housing. And as a camping structure, it demonstrates an alternative to tents made with synthetic materials that contribute to environmental pollution.
Photos by Dustin Kahn (fiber, grazing, composting shed, yurt), Paige Green (natural dyes), Kathleen Cunningham (vests)