Profile: Fibershed

Local fibers, local dies, local labor

Our Mission: We envision the emergence of an international system of regional textile communities that enliven connection and ownership of ‘soil-to-soil’ textile processes. These diverse textile cultures are designed to build soil carbon stocks on the working landscapes on which they depend, while directly enhancing the strength of regional economies. Both fiber and food systems now face a drastically changing climate, and must utilize the best of time-honored knowledge and available science for their long-term ability to thrive.
As each Fibershed community manages their resources to create permanent and lasting systems of production, these efforts to take full responsibility for a garment’s lifecycle will diminish pressure on highly polluted and ecologically undermined areas of the world. (China produces 52% of the world’s textiles. The industry is the third largest fresh water polluter in the country.)
Future Fibershed communities will rely upon renewable energy powered mills that will exist in close proximity to where the fibers are grown. Through strategic grazing, conservation tillage, and a host of scientifically vetted soil carbon enhancing practices, our supply chains will create ‘climate beneficial’ clothing that will become the new standard in a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change. We see a nourishing tradition emerging that connects the wearer to the local field where the clothes were grown, building a system that can last for countless generations into the future.

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NoteStreams By Fibershed

Tallow: Summer Solace’s Food for the Skin

“I had worked with tallow as a chef, but was intrigued to use it as an ingredient for something else. When I began experimenting with it and researching its age-old uses, I recognized its healing properties for the skin and its minimal impact on the environment. I knew I had to use it!”
Written by Sasha Wirth & Photographed by Paige Green
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Natural Tanning with Vermont Natural Sheepskins

There’s a growing desire to support a positive impact on our shared climate and environment, with more and more consumers seeking to better understand their textile sources. When it comes to preserving sheepskins — a tanning process often obscured from farmer and customer alike — Vermont Natural Sheepskins stands out as the only provider of organic processing of hair-on domestic hides in the United States.
Written by Courtney Collins & Photographed by Ben DeFlorio
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Frankenmuth Woolen Mill: Preserving American-made Craft for Over 100 Years

In a humble Midwestern town in 1894, a mill opened its doors for business. Sourcing wool from neighboring farms, it manufactured essential goods ranging from mitts and socks to blankets and quilts. Meet Frankenmuth Woolen Mill, which has persevered and prospered for more than 124 years.
Written by Sasha Wirth; Photographed by James Saleska (mill and bedding images) & Paige Green (ranch images)
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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A New Breed of Fiber Mill: BastCore Hemp Processing

BastCore is located in the greater-Omaha area and serves the fiber supply chain in an altogether unique way, through the processing of hemp.
Coming from experience in mills that process wool, alpaca and other protein fibers, they offer a fascinating look into a world I know very little about – plant fibers are truly another species of textiles.
Written and photographed by Maddy Bartsch
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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A Glimpse into Caprette Cashmere

Cashmere keeps us warm in the winter, yet weighs hardly a thing. It comes in many natural colors, and also takes dyes beautifully. What kind of work goes into the making of this sumptuous fiber? Barbara Fiorica, owner of Caprette Cashmere, gives a tour of her ranch to tell us all about it.
Written by Valerie Yep & Photographed by Alycia Lang
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Learning the Language of Plants with Local Dialect

“When others think of plants, they think of their medicinal purpose as a primary identifier,” Karen Hess explains. Like arnica for sprains, or marshmallow for coughs. “But I believe plants also communicate through color, especially their concealed hues.”
Written by Sasha Wirth & Photographed by Paige Green
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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The Richness of the Land with Weirauch Farm & Creamery

Carleen Weirauch gave us a tour of the land in Sonoma County where she and her husband, Joel, keep their flock of dairy sheep.
The motivating force behind their efforts can be summed up plainly: states Carleen, “We’re still yearning to make amazing cheese.” With such a simple motivating force, it’s no wonder they’re able to do just that.
Written by Terra Christian; Photographed by Kalie Ilana Kassel-Feiss
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Rooting the Fashion Revolution in the Soil

This year’s Fashion Revolution Week just wrapped up but the movement for transparency, accountability, and shifting the norms of a harmful and wasteful industry is gaining more traction and momentum than ever.
Jess Daniels provides research, communications strategy, and project management for Fibershed. She coordinates the Fibershed Affiliate Network and is an avid maker and explorer of slow fashion.
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Indigo in Hand at Red Twig Farm

It all started with a gift: fifty tiny seedlings, exchanged from one woman’s hands to another. The seedlings were Polygonum tinctorium, whose body is made of glassy green almond-shaped leaves, tiny pink flower buds, and whose dye creates the infamous world-renowned deep blue our eyes love to drink and our hands love to touch.
Written and Photographed by Kalie llana Cassel-Feiss
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Always Good Natured: Skyelark Ranch

Alexis and Gillies Robertson, the team behind Skyelark Ranch, both come from environmental conservation backgrounds. Their interest in, and commitment to, sustainable agriculture is born of this background, and it is present in every aspect of how they manage the 120 acres that make up the ranch.
They are interested in agriculture and ecology as complementary to one another, rather than in opposition to one another. As Alexis puts it, their aim in farming is to maintain “a really light touch on the ground.”
Written by May Reid-Marr and photographed by Alycia Lang
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Revitalizing Wool: One Dish Mat at a Time

What to do with wool too course for yarn? Could something purposeful and beautiful come from this?
Written by Sasha Wirth and photographed by Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss, with landscape and sheep photos by Paige Green
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Fibershed Knitalong

Explore your fibershed through a collaborative community event: the Fibershed Knitalong. To know a place is to love a place, and this year we invite you to deepen your understanding of your region through connecting with local fiber producers and creating a garment. Beginning at the 2016 Wool Symposium on November 19th, we will cultivate a community knitalong following a shawl pattern designed by Emily Cunetto.
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Ambatalia: A Non-Disposable Life

Walking into Ambatalia is walking into the home of a patchwork of fabrics of the utmost quality: vintage linens, handspun and woven cottons; various objects sewn into utilitarian tools to fit Ambatalia’s tag line, “for a non-disposable life.”
Written and photographed by Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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Bringing Plants To The People

Deepa Natarajan is studying the many different ways people have cultivated and used plants as medicines throughout history. By looking closely at the process used in Ayurvedic cloth dyeing, she started to wonder at the effect synthetic dyes have on our skin - the largest organ of the body.
Written by Kara Fleshman, photographed by Alycia Lang
fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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ImagiKnit: Haven in the Heart of San Francisco

What would bring a lawyer, a physical therapist and a biotech consultant together? Knitting - naturally!
Written by Sasha Wirth and photographed by Paige Green
Fibershed

Category: Sustainability

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The Stewards of Stinson

Hidden away past Stinson is a little piece of heaven, lovingly restored and cared for by Sandra and Rob.
Written by Traci Prendergast and photographed by Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss

Category: Nature

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Knitting by Radius

Shelli Westcott describes her world through touch and tactility; color and arrangement play a role, but texture, hand, and layering are forefront. This explains why she felt it was imperative that she dig her hands deeply into the creation of the second series of Radius Yarn for her shop, Knitterly.

Category: Sustainability

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From Fashion to Fabric: Questions of Origins

Our clothes represent the way we want to the world to see us. They can take a very complicated route to us - Nicki Taylor spent a year sourcing what goes into a single outfit. Her results surprise, and have us asking "Who Made My Clothes?"

Category: Sustainability

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Who Grew Our Clothes?

When we ask ‘who made our clothes’ we come into contact with a suite of global supply chains that connect what we put on our skin each day to human-operated cut & sew facilities, finishers, knitters or weavers, yarn spinning, carding, washing, ginning, or fossil fuel extraction for resin chips (for synthetic fibers), and in the case of natural fibers—we end up back on the farm.

Category: Sustainability

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Building the Fashion Revolution

Andrea Plell is the founder of Ecologique Fashion an ethical and sustainable fashion consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2007, Plell has put her background in business and marketing to work to change the fashion industry, from creating editorial content to coordinating fashion shows.
She spoke with Fibershed to share more about how her professional path has evolved, the significance of Fashion Revolution, and what each of us can do to join the movement.

Category: Sustainability

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Climate-Beneficial Wool

How does raising sheep for wool in a sustainable way impact climate change? How does Carbon Farming help restore balance in a way that helps build resilience to drought while also increasing agricultural productivity naturally? Welcome to the future of Climate-Beneficial Wool.

Category: Sustainability

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Classical Cotton Breeding

Enhancing nature’s time-tested processes or Engineering… the difference between this phrase and word is a clear line in the sand that divides many millennia of human efforts to breed plants and animals, and the contemporary field of genetic modification.

Category: Sustainability

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Cusp Of A Revolution

Right at the crook of California, nestled between state lines like a secret, is a valley: and in that valley, at her own intersection of worlds, stands a woman. Her toes have crept over into the unknown, but her heels remain planted in compost-rich soil. That woman is Lani Estill, rancher and fiber artist behind the esteemed Bare Ranch located in “Surprise Valley;” a land that locals call the Tricorner Region for its seat at the border of California, Oregon, and Nevada.

Category: Sustainability

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Colored Cotton

I can’t just say cotton. You’d think I was talking about the white stuff. The fluff on your q-tips. The sheets on your bed. The underwear in your drawer. The crop on the plantation. If it’s not white in this world, we always have to specify.
There are plants that produce their own colors, and that have germinated, grown, and died for over 7,000 years. There are greens, reds, pinks, yellows, and browns that come through solid and striated on plants that have been discovered, developed, protected, and utilized by humans throughout Africa, South Asia, China, and South and Mesoamerica for thousands of years. And when we hear cotton, we think white.

Category: Sustainability

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Rhapsody In Blue: Kori Hargreaves Perfectly Imperfect Life

We drive up the windy country road on an early fall afternoon in Bonny Doon near Santa Cruz, to see what Kori Hargreaves is doing with hyper-local fibers and dyes.
The light filters through the leaves of tall redwoods and oaks, and we emerge at a clearing, where Kori is processing indigo on the deck outside her yurt. With a B.A. in plant biology and studio arts from UC Davis, Kori is a second-generation agroecologist and artisan.

Category: Sustainability

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The Get-It-Done Girl

In an age of memoirs-turned-movies, it is not uncommon to hear about being in “the right place at the right time.”
However, for Robin Chapin Pilatti—artisan and businesswoman behind “Fleece to Garment”—one thing is clear: her introduction to the world of fiber has been more than a happy coincidence.

Category: Sustainability

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Pioneering Modern Natural Dyes

There’s a duality to natural dyeing that Kristine Vejar embraces:
the naturalist and plant pigment explorer; the scientist and careful recipe creator. She approaches natural dyeing with detailed consideration, testing each recipe for reproducibility, scalability, and the subtle variation that occurs when dyeing on different yarn bases for the in-house A Verb for Keeping Warm yarn lines,
and she has poured this approach into her forthcoming book, The Modern Natural Dyer.

Category: Sustainability

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A Journey Into the Blue

Craig Wilkinson has been immersed in the holistic and ecologically conscious practice of biodynamic farming since 1998.
“It [Biodynamics] is really the beginning of my story,” Craig explains. When answering the question of what got him “into the blue” Craig says it all started nearly 20 years ago, before he ever considered growing and processing indigo crops.

Category: Sustainability

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Welcome to the Borderlands

The sun is shining over the green hills though gentle showers continue to fall over Windrush Farm and all the creatures residing there.
Mimi waits for us clad in a cherry red felted pull over at the door; we are late and so we dive straight into a buzzing hour of morning chores.

Category: Sustainability

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Black Mountain Farm: Old World Meets New

For Marnie, Black Mountain farm is not an endeavor in financial gain, it’s about teaching and learning and getting involved in the exquisite, dirty, poignant elements of life.
She chose to extricate her children from the contemporary adolescent experience of digital existence and ground them in life on the earth in the way that she was on the farm in Italy.
If you’re up for an adventure of your own you can wander down into the Nicasio Valley and find Marnie and her farm; there you can get a taste of the new Old World and peruse the farm’s products such as eggs, honey, jam, lamb, hand and mill spun wool and wonderful hand-knit hats.

Category: Sustainability

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Stories from Windrush Farm

Windrush Farm in Chileno Valley, California stands as one of our community’s most endearing fiber and farming hubs.
Founded in 1995 by Mimi Luebbermann, the farm grew from an intention of living simply, farming fiber, and functioning as a quiet space for Luebbermann’s longstanding writing career.

Category: Lifestyle

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Barinaga Ranch — Inspired by Ancestral Traditions

Overlooking Tomales Bay, in the hills above the small town of Marshall, lies Barinaga Ranch.
This special place in the Marin countryside grew out of a vision inspired by Basque ancestors and plenty of hard work by Fibershed producer member Marcia Barinaga and her husband Corey Goodman, a neuroscientist and biotech entrepreneur.

Category: Sustainability

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N. CA Dye Mushrooms: A Closer Look

Dyeing with mushrooms is a relatively new practice that gained popularity in the 1970s. There is no better time than now to pay closer attention to the resources available to us in the means of local, renewable dye sources, as we work to build a healthier planet and support our local ecosystems.rnMushroom dyes have a lot to offer in the way of color and availability. They come up when the fungal organism is ready and offer themselves to our basket; much like ripe fruit from the garden. Here’s a look at sustainable ways to work with these valuable pigments and incorporate them into our regional dye palette.rn

Category: Sustainability

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The Indigo Project

For nearly 5,000 years, in almost every culture on earth, indigo plants of many species have been prized for the intensely beautiful blue pigment they impart. Japanese indigo, or Polygonum tinctorium, is a species of indigo that grows well as an annual crop in temperate North America, and it has captured the interest of our local Fibershed community.
After traveling in Southeast Asia a number of years ago, Fibershed founder Rebecca Burgess was inspired to grow local forms of natural blue. She began at the garden scale, and after several years of small scale backyard projects, she was motivated to increase regional access to indigo year round.

Category: Sustainability

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Sonrisa Farms – The New Kids on the Block

Lisa Colorado is one of those people with such tangible conviction it all but glints in the sun. She is an activist, philosopher, academic, wife, mother, permaculturist and, most recently, small-time rancher. The concept of harmony seems to be a unifying one throughout the elements of Lisa’s world, tying into her actions, beliefs, motivations and goals. She is winning the battle against cognitive dissonance, bringing her life into accordance with her beliefs in ecological sustainability, social equality and the resilience of strong communities.

Category: Nature

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Co-ops & The Next Clothing Industry

Three simple words: Made In _________. This phrase, adorning nearly every item of clothing in our closets, is a frustratingly simple explanation of garment manufacturing.
For many, these tags are a source of concern – we wonder about the working conditions and wages of those who make the clothes on our backs, and what we can do to support better practices. But garment manufacturing doesn’t need to be synonymous with sweatshops, in fact it’s a source of tremendous potential for creating just, sustainable livelihoods, and a thriving local economy.

Category: Sustainability

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From Sheep to Shop

Jackie Post is living the fiber lover’s dream at her farm in Vacaville, California, where she settled around four years ago with her husband Leonard, who works as a scientist, but grew up on a farm in Michigan and raised sheep in 4H. The opportunity to purchase an additional adjoining property and expand to 12 acres came about earlier this year, so now Jackie has plenty of room for her growing fiber arts business, aptly named Sheep to Shop.

Category: Sustainability

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Full Belly, Full Heart

Full Belly is a farm of divine splendor. As the name suggests, it is a wholesome place, pregnant with happiness, abundance and good health. Walking down the long rows of bright produce bursting from well-cultivated soil, the iniquity of our world seems to dissipate and is replaced with a feeling of general goodness.
We explore Full Belly’s 400 certified organic acres with Dru Rivers, who founded the farm with her husband, Paul.

Category: Sustainability

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Weaving Without Limits

In an ecosystem, a limiting factor puts pressure on a population, eventually leading to adaptation. For Fibershed artisan and weaver Ama Wertz, limiting her materials to Fibershed-sourced yarns and natural dyes has been a welcome pressure that fuels her design process and builds community.
Many tapestry weavers would be “horrified by having only 8 colors,” says Ama, sitting in her sun drenched Oakland studio, but for her, “designing from a Fibershed point of view has changed the way I think about designs.” From exhaust bath dyeing to a fascination with the concept of decay and the process of colors shifting with exposure to the elements over time, Ama has found exciting – and plentiful – adaptations.

Category: Sustainability

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A Lifelong Love Of Fiber Arts

Colleen Simon has enjoyed an interest in fiber arts for as long as she can remember. She learned to knit as a child growing up in Minnesota, and recalls with fondness how she was intrigued by the spinning wheel in her mom’s attic.
In addition to knitting and spinning, Colleen learned to weave and to felt, and felting has become her current love.
We are grateful to Colleen and others in the Vacaville community that have joined our Fibershed Producer program — inspiring us by sharing their stories and knowledge, and building local fiber resources through their love of fiber arts.

Category: Sustainability

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