Hard to believe that we’re at the end of 2023. It’s been a good year for the Chesapeake Fibershed and we are grateful for the wonderful people who participated and contributed to the many events and projects we took on this year. It takes all of us sharing our awareness and giving our time to help change our relationship with textiles to one that is more human and environmental responsible. We can’t say thank you enough.
In 2023 we had many opportunities to help educate people about the need for thinking local when it comes to textiles. We had a presence at three regional fiber festivals and met lots of fabulous producers and makers. In addition to hosting an informational booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year, we sponsored Chesapeake Fibershed Skein and Garment prizes and held a panel featuring several east coast fibersheds. At the Shenandoah Fiber Festival, we enjoyed meeting many fiber enthusiasts who had braved the inclement weather. At the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, we joined forces with ten other fibersheds for a weekend of fibershed education. We were also delighted to participate in the first George Washington University Eco-Bash where we met hundreds of students interested in their environmental impact. A number of local fiber guilds invited us to speak to their members about the fibershed and how they can be involved. We’re excited that there is so much interest in a soil-to-soil textile system. In addition we had numerous online meet-ups featuring a variety of speakers on topics from growing flax to foraging for dye plants in our area.
We had our second year of the Sustainable Cloth: Farm to Home and Closet challenge featuring local fibers, dyes, and makers. With 9 online meet-ups, an in-person natural dye day in June and a fashion show and gathering in November, we shared in the creative use of local fiber and up-cycled materials. We had a wide range of participants, ages 15 – 70+, from Delaware to Virginia and all the states in between, and showcasing a variety of techniques. Local makers, including students from VCU’s Fashion Department, inspired us with their creativity. It’s always impressive to see what beautiful garments and home items are made. If you missed it this year, we’ll be sponsoring the challenge again in 2024 this year with a focus on re-invisioning our clothing. We hope you’ll participate. Check out the guidelines here and sign up!
We also had a Flax Project to help us learn more about the viability of growing flax in our region. There were over 60 interested people who grew small plots of flax, collected data on its growth, shared their progress in monthly meetups and held a processing day to take the flax from plant to spinnable fiber. We’re looking forward to expanding this project to larger tracts of planted flax in the year to come.
Using a microgrant from fibershed.org, a natural dye book is in the works. Based on the dyer’s journal on our website, this project is expanding our knowledge and sharing of local dye plants and techniques. Local dyers have been collaborating to research and experiment with local dye plants, and recording their results, to make this resource as complete as possible.
We are now recognized as a 501(c)(3) corporation and hope that this gives us the ability to do even more. First up this year is building an online producer resource to give greater access the fiber and textiles in our fibershed.
But it’s more than projects. Each of you – through the clothes you repair, rewear, swap, or make from local fiber, or the textiles that you carefully choose for your home, or the conversations you have about regional and natural textiles with your friends, or the encouragement you give each other – supports a local, health-giving textile economy. We are thankful that you are here and can’t wait to see you in 2024.
Happy New Year!