Today's blog really is a gathering of information from various sources including:
- Judi Jetson, President of Local Cloth;
- Local Cloth Instagram;
- Local Cloth Newsletter (Caroline Williford, Editor)
- and various emails and impromptu discussions.
First and foremost, the Blue Ridge Blanket Project (BRBP) is not a one-off project!
The goal is that it will become self-supporting after a couple of years so that the seed money we received from WNC Community Foundation is an investment in the production of blankets from local fiber. Forever.
This first year is our research & development year (2021-2022).
To catch you up, here is a link to a blogpost about the 1st phase of our project.
Updates from March to present:
- Our first batch of samples (a blend of fine wool, mohair, and alpaca, Blue Ridge Mountain Blend) is now being woven into blankets at Warren Wilson College. The yarn was spun at Two Roots Alpaca and Fiber Mill and dyed by our Natural Dye Interest Group at Local Cloth. The weaving students attended an online design workshop taught by Heather K. Powers, who used to be a blanket designer for Churchill Weavers and is a grad of the MA in Craft program at Warren Wilson. Weaver Melanie Wilder has been intimately involved.
- We're waiting for the wool for the 2nd batch of samples (Shetland) to arrive from the Two Roots Mill. It will be in 4 natural colors. Samples will be woven by Haywood Community College students, who also attended the design workshop.
- We are also waiting for samples of a Dorset-bamboo blend of yarn from Echoview (3rd batch of samples). The wool was donated by Anthony Cole. The idea here is to see if we can use wool from meat sheep, and I've learned (from leaders of other fibersheds in MD & PA) that it makes good blankets & socks. We're going to find someone to spin sock yarn, and then will probably dye it. See blog from the Spinning Interest Group session when we were skirting and spinning Dorset and Blue Ridge Mountain Blend fibers.
- We are buying fine wool, mohair and alpaca right now for a larger production run & will use out-of-state mills to weave these because local mills have a 1-year backup and we're hoping to have blankets to sell this coming winter. Fiber must be between 3-1/2 and 5 inches long and skirted. If you know anyone who would like to participate, please have them contact Judi Jetson or Caroline Williford.
- Skirting fleece in Mills River April 27, 2022 for use in our Blue Ridge Blanket project. This pretty Cotswold X Tunis herd was stored in a barn for years, and we rescued it from the landfill.
- We are in the final stages of gathering fiber for our next run of blankets. Pictured here at Good Fibrations with Marcia Kummerle, one of her lovely goats, and Judi running mohair through a tumbler. We are gathering mohair, alpaca and fine wool from farms across the region, including Barnardsville, Leicester, Tryon, Mills River, Vale and Rutherfordton.