New! Vendor spotlights are coming in the mid-month LC Newsletter by email in which a condensed version of an interview appears.
Here is the full writeup by interviewer Colleen Troy.
Betsy Skinner, South Asheville
Local Cloth Retail Store Volunteer Coordinator
Seller with Local Cloth
What’s the lineage of your craft?
I’ve always been interested in fiber in some manner. I learned to sew at a very young age. My family was poor and we couldn’t afford to buy clothes, so I learned to sew my own clothes (with my mothers’ tutelage). Sewing felt more like I “had to.”
Twenty or so years ago I became interested in knitting; then I got into spinning. My sister spun wool and she also raised sheep and encouraged me to spin.
(Betsy laughs exuberantly) “I love wool; being surrounded by all the textures and color of wool.”
How did you find Local Cloth?
When I retired I turned my attention to taking spinning and felting (wet, nuno, needle felting) and eco-printing classes. I love learning something new. I'm a craft dabbler and not an expert. I enjoy the process of learning how to do things just as much as the finished project.
Before I moved here 3 years ago from California, I took a beginning fiddle class at John C Campbell folk school and returned for a few other classes. I drove through Asheville and fell in love with the place; the vibrant arts and craft environment, along with the music and natural scenery. I’ve never lived east of the Mississippi; and swore I’d never live in the south.
I had been caring for my Mom and when she passed away, I asked myself what do I want to do next? Impulsively I decided to move to Asheville and joined the vibrant Local Cloth fiber community here.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From all the artists at Local Cloth and their creative endeavors. I look around the store and say “I could do that” and “yeah I want to try that”. I didn’t get many Christmas gifts made so I shopped for my gifts at the Local Cloth shop.
Do you have a studio at home?
I have a great place in the country with plenty of room and space to work; a studio in a spare bedroom and a basement where I do felting and dyeing. I’m surrounded by wool — bins and more bins. Every time I go to SAFF, I can’t resist (more exuberant laughter!)
Next project for you?
I just finished a vest with eco-printing on wool and sewed a lining in it. Now I’ll work on the various items I see at Local Cloth.
In the shop I offer knitted and then felted hats, wet felted hats with needle felted birds, wet felted baby booties, and wet felted dryer balls. I have sold my fiber items before at various craft markets. I enjoy having other people enjoy my items enough to buy them, but I am not really into being in production mode.
What’s so special about crafting local that you want others to know about??
I love using local yarns and roving as much as I can to support the farmers; getting to know those who raise the animals is special. I love the idea we are supporting the local community within the WNC fibershed. Back in California I took some workshops with Rebecca Burgess, the leader in the community organized fibershed movement. It’s so important for an artist to continue to make their art; make a living and become known while using locally sourced materials.
Do you have a “next destination” you wish to explore?
The North Carolina coast. I haven’t seen much of NC because of the pandemic. In spring of 2020, I committed to explore NC but then everything shut down. I especially want to visit all the waterfalls.
Interview by Colleen Troy