Each of us has our own journey when it comes to clothing ourselves sustainably. This is the Sustainable Cloth entry of Lisa Check, a life long textile artist and enthusiastic supporter of Fibershed in general and Chesapeake Fibershed in particular. She weaves, knits, embroiders, quilts, sews, spins, and dyes fiber, yarn and cloth. She is a shepherd with a flock of Angora and Cashmere Goats, Cormo and BFL sheep. Her Flying Goat Farm yarn lines include a Certified Fibershed Product line.
This all started when I read “Fibershed” by Rebecca Burgess. I was so intrigued by her commitment to make a wardrobe that was completely made within 100 miles of her home. She embarked on that journey and was able to bring together makers for parts that she didn’t have the skills to make. This challenge was a spark. Of course, part of it is so easy for me since I have my own fiber from raising fine wool sheep. I have many wardrobe pieces, but most of them were low impact acid dyed, not naturally dyed. I first made a list of all the pieces I already had: socks, hats, scarves, shawls, sweaters, and fingerless mitts. These pieces are great during the cooler part of the year. But the hole in my wardrobe was the local cotton or linen to wear in the summer. That is still the hole in my wardrobe.
I dreamt of bringing together a group of makers who would work together to make a local wardrobe with me. When I joined Chesapeake Fibershed, I found a place where that community could be built. As a group, we decided that it would be more inclusive to work on the bigger picture. So we enlarged the challenge to be garments or home textiles. And then again, we wanted to work on the initiative to reduce textile waste, so we included those who wanted to rework and upcycle clothing or textiles that they already had or thrifted.
So now that we had a group, what would I make? I decided to make a boxy tee. That tee would be made from our local roving. So my project took shape as a locally grown, naturally colored, handspun boxy tee. In the process, I did tweak the pattern, adding the lace to the cap sleeves. While I met gauge, the cast on stitches were just too big for my shoulders. I have since learned to use a measurement just under arms (not your full bust size) to determine the sweater size to make.
I spun 1200 yards of 2 ply BFL blend roving that was made with my fleeces and those of a partner farm which raises BFL X Shetland sheep. I spun this during the 2021 Tour de Fleece. The roving is a lovely deep charcoal color with white flecks in it to give it a heathery look. The yarn is soft enough to wear with just a camisole underneath. To test that, I wore a small skein of my handspun around my neck. I found that I could wear it without being irritated. Another plus of this sweater.
I am really pleased with the results of this project. I have a wonderful sweater tee that I can wear in many different ways. It is a wonderful truly Fibershed garment that is the most local that it could be!!
Now I’m hooked! I’m working on another Fibershed sweater for this year. This year I’m adding in local dyes.