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fibershed fashion and banjos in the background

May 2, 2011

fibershed fashion show, photo by Scott Hess

Have you ever been to a fashion show with a haybale runway and banjos playing in the background? I hadn’t either, before tonight…

We arrive at Tobys Feed Barn in the evening as the locovore dinner is finishing up. Paige Green‘s beautiful photos of sheep, wool and yarns dyed with natural dyes are all displayed on lines with clothespins across the walls. Haybales (it is a feed barn) stack up on the sides of the room and form a runway between long tables on either side. Yarn, wool and clothes made in our “fibershed” line tables near the door, some for the silent auction and some for sale. Two spinners demonstrate their craft.

We head to the Kombucha bar, and out of a hand labeled  brown medicine bottle, our bartender pours me a goji kombucha that lights me up for the rest of the night. Rebecca Burgess, the creator of the Fibershed Project, and author of the book Harvesting Color, begins speaking about the long road behind and ahead, paved with powerful, energetic collaborators and unfolding dreams about local fabric.

In a nutshell, one of our most basic needs, clothing, is not under our control; we are literally not capable of clothing ourselves locally. For the past year, Rebecca has only been wearing clothes made and dyed within a 150 mile radius of her doorstep in Fairfax, California. It has been a challenging, non-duplicatable process, especially since most of the woven fabric is leftover fabric from the eighties when there was a cotton mill in our area that could make the woven cloth you see in most clothes today. Many local artisans (including knitter Heidi Iverson from Petaluma) sewed and knit beautiful clothing for Rebecca to wear this year as part of the project, (including underwear and a bathing suit!) Her project has shown many of the holes in the system, where opportunities exist for new business ventures in our local textile world that would make it possible to have a local wardrobe, should we choose. The most noticeable of these holes is the need to create textile mills, where fibers are processed into fine yarns that can then be woven mechanically into denim, stretch knits and other fine fabrics that aren’t possible by hand. Ultimately, each “fibershed” could have its own textile mill.

After dessert is served, and I have returned to the bar for a rose kombucha that tastes like drinking an actual rose, the ultimate in sustainable fashion shows begins. Live banjos and mandolins accompany models sauntering down the haybale runway wearing completely locally made clothing, right down to the jewelry.

The point of this entire evening is to raise money to create a small textile mill in this area again. There is an entire story about the demise of another local mill, a mill who’s demise inspired a new business model based on community. It sounds like the idea is well on its way to eventual fruition, with the community’s help and for the community’s benefit. If this evening is any indication, there is lots of support!

The silent auction winds down, We talk with friends about sewing, deer, indigo plants and the preponderance of wild turkeys in the area, while the band serenades and a barn cat navigates the rafters high above us. Stars appear in the night sky above the little town of Point Reyes, the creative path winds ahead, ideas fill my head, and it is one of those times where the bad news turns into good news.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2011 10:17 am

    fantastic writing about a lovely night. thanks, karen!

  2. karen hess permalink*
    May 4, 2011 9:42 am

    It was lovely and you were a great model!

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