Welcome to the Blue Ridge Blanket Project! First things first. Below I list where else to find information on this project and how to get involved.
- Donate to Local Cloth to support the Blue Ridge Blanket Project (LC-BRBP). Find out details and how to donate here.
- Get involved! Are you a fiber farmer or fiber artist and want to get involved? Contact us
- Volunteer to participate in this project, there are many different aspects from skirting fleeces to weaving; business and marketing; and research.
More Information on the Blue Ridge Blanket Project:
Local Cloth, a non-profit in Asheville, is undertaking a challenging and multifaceted project that springs directly from our mission statement.
“Local Cloth is dedicated to growing and supporting the fiber economy in Western North Carolina through education, inclusive programming, and services which add value to local products. We advocate for our regional community of farmers, artists, makers and designers.”
The first segment of this project named The Blue Ridge Blanket Project (BRBP), is now funded by a Natural and Cultural Resources grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina with a funding period of Oct1, 2021-Dec 30, 2022.
The overarching goal of this project for Local Cloth, it members and volunteers, is to identify and develop the materials, methods, and networks to build future for-profit endeavors for fiber artists, farmers, and companies. Thus, Local Cloth will participate directly in re-booting the Western North Carolina fiber industry.
The location of Local Cloth in Asheville’s River Arts District, in the center of a region supporting numerous fiber artists, fiber farmers, and a strong tourist market will help support the development of the fiber market. Local Cloth, individual fiber artists, and the regional colleges and universities such as Haywood Community and Warren Wilson Colleges, offer excellent education in various aspects of fiber arts for the aspiring fiber artist/craftsperson.
Specifically, the first aspect of this project is to work with local farmers and local fiber mills to produce yarns for weaving blankets. Weavers will be engaged to weave sample scarves and blankets (about 40” by 60”). Possible threading and treadling examples have been made by Melanie Wilder of Local Cloth and a teacher at Warren Wilson College. A fiber was selected that is similar to a blend developed at Local Cloth called Blue Ridge Mountain Blend (wool/mohair/alpaca).
In preparation for making a small scale run, volunteers at Local Cloth skirted alpaca and angora goat fleeces (mohair). Ruth Ann Goss and Louise Nuttle at Two Roots Fiber Mill blended a Rambouillet x Romney, a fine wool from a farm outside of Franklin, NC. with Alpaca and Mohair after cleaning the fleeces. 2 ply yarn was spun by Two Roots Fiber Mill.
The Natural Dye Interest group is in the process of dyeing about half of the yarn, with the remaining yarn to be left undyed. From the Natural Dye Interest Group:
"We've dyed with Indigo, Madder and Walnut thus far. Next up: Weld! Our Weld is sourced locally, from Warren Wilson College. We will dye with Weld on its own for a brilliant yellow and over dye light blue Indigo with Weld for a green. We also plan to dye with Lichen for a purple hue, and possibly some more Madder. "
The next two small runs will be with local Shetland wool and from a large donation of Polled Dorset wool. See a previous blog describing the Polled Dorset story.
With samples in hand, the market for blankets (and perhaps scarves) will then be explored and developed to best address a successful commercial context.
In this blog, which will be regularly updated, you will periodically get to read about and see photos of behind-the-scenes work. I know I have many questions to ask and I hope you the readers do as well. Please leave questions on the blog, contact Local Cloth, or email me and I will add the answers!