APRIL 2018 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC Fibresheds give local movement new meaning

Movement creating new value for locally produced wool, fibres


VICTORIA – We all have

heard the phrase, “Do you know where your food comes from?” But do you know where your clothes come from?

Some fibre artists have banded together to form fibresheds, geographic regions that provide all the resources that go into the making of textiles: plant and animal-based fibres, dyes, processing and labour. The local movement, it would seem, is moving from our kitchens to our closets and from the 100-mile diet to the 150-mile blanket. “It is the right moment in

time for this to coalesce”, says Lynda Drury, who with master weaver Amy Crook has recently established the Vancouver Island Fibreshed, a collaborative group created to form a hub for buyers, sellers and processors of local fibres. Inter Island Sheep Breeder

Association president and owner of Country Wools Lorea Tomsin agrees, adding that “a fibreshed can encourage diverse and interesting products made close to home.”

The goal of a fibreshed is to

create a local fibre economy by providing support for farmers to produce fibre and ensure that there are links to processors and markets. At the same time, the fibreshed would be ecologically sustainable, recognizing that fibres such as wool and flax are land-based and the ecological impact of producing a land-based fibre is linked to land management as well as processing practices.

“By exporting our textile

manufacturing, we have also exported our pollution associated with it,” notes Tracy Brennan, owner of the new Inca Dinca Do Farm and Fibery in North Saanich. Textile production in China is the third-largest cause of water pollution. With 80% to 90% of Canadian wool being exported, it is something to consider.

California start The fibreshed movement

started in California in 2010 when fibre artist Rebecca Burgess committed to reducing her own ecological footprint while building a homegrown wardrobe with fibre and resources from within a 150-mile radius. Already, the California model has expanded globally, including several regions in Canada. There are four regional

fibresheds in BC. The Sunshine Coast Fibreshed was established in 2012, representing the 150 miles of coastline from Langdale to Lund, including some coastal islands. Home to many small farms raising sheep, alpacas, Angora goats and rabbits as well as spinners and weavers, mushroom dyers, designers, felters and wool processors, they have a mission to decrease their environmental footprint by supporting local fibre farmers and connecting them to fibre artists. The Salt Spring Island

Fibreshed is artisan-based and was formed in 2014, hosting a website which is working on connecting fibre producers, processors, studios, and yarn shops. Salt Spring Island is the largest of the southern Gulf Islands, with many sheep, llamas, alpacas, fibre artists

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Tracy Brennan of Inca Dinca Do Farm and Fibery in North Saanich proudly shows off her perfectly functional wool carder from the 1880s. BARBARA JOHNSTONE GRIMMER PHOTO

and a strong tourism industry. The Vancouver Fibreshed is

also artisan-based, with a map of fibre producers, but is still in the fledgling stages of establishing connections. The Vancouver Island

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