Fibersheds are Weaving Local

Many people in recent years have joined the "locavore" movement, choosing food grown close to home in an effort to promote sustainable local economies, minimize carbon emissions, and eat healthier. (There's an interesting offshoot, the "invasivore" movement, whose adherents eat invasive non-native species, killing two weeds with one stone, so to speak.) But have you heard of "fibersheds," the textile version of consuming locally? They're happening all over. In 2007, Philadelphia-based designer Kelly Cobb launched the "100-Mile Suit," a project to make a man's suit from materials produced within 100 miles of her home in Philadelphia. Last year a group of weavers, knitters, spinners, designers, and farmers in Northern California "followed suit" (sorry) with the "150-Mile Wardrobe," a plan to live for one year in clothes that were grown, processed, woven/knitted, dyed, cut and sewn less than 150 miles (241 km) from organizer Rebecca Burgess's doorstep. The California group calls itself the Fibershed Project, and they aim to create a functioning local supply chain from fiber to garment. The project used locally grown organic cotton, wool, alpaca and native dyestuffs to create everything from underwear to outer garments, and even jewelry. They recently held a benefit and fashion show of locally produced garments to raise money for a solar-powered community mill. 

(Thanks to Margaret Zeps, of the Portland, Oregon, Handweavers Guild for the lead to this neat story.)

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