Plough to Pantry
By Belle Crawford
The 6th annual Fiber Feel Day, presented by Asheville nonprofit Local Cloth, will take place at the WNC Farmers Market Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event celebrates the annual harvest of fiber from local farmers and will feature hands-on exhibits showcasing freshly shorn fleeces from sheep, alpaca, angora goats, rabbits and llama. Visitors will be able to purchase a variety of locally made yarn, hand sewn bags, felted and woven fiber art, and natural dyes.
“The vision of Fiber Feel Day is to create a venue where local farmers can bring their fiber in various stages from raw fleeces to finished products, and where fiber artists can come and support these farmers and suppliers by buying directly from them,” says Melanie Wilder, Local Cloth treasurer.
Local Cloth is a 501 (c) (3), founded in 2012 by a group of local fiber farmers, textile artists and business owners. Its mission is to grow the fiber supply chain in Western North Carolina and enhance the lives of those who make their living in the fiber industries. They work to raise awareness and appreciation for local plant and animal fiber and fiber art products as well as advocate for new markets, programs and services. The aim is to strengthen the economic viability of our region’s creative community.
“Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair happens every autumn at the WNC Agricultural Center and is a great event, but having Fiber Feel Day earlier in the season just after shearing gives people in our area another opportunity to meet the farmers and support local by buying directly from the farmers for all their fiber needs,” says Wilder. This year’s event will include new vendors and more emphasis on live demonstrations such as fleece skirting, carding, spinning, knitting, weaving and natural dyeing.
“Fiber Feel Day is a great educational event for folks to learn more about where their fiber comes from, talk to local instructors who may be able to teach them how to felt and spin with the fibers from their farms, and get their hands on some great local yarns and products,” says Wilder.
One of this year’s vendors is Jessica Sanchez, owner of Rusted Earth, a Leicester-based fiber farm and production/design studio that produces handwoven, one-of-a-kind, farm-to-home textile art while focusing on the preservation of struggling heritage breeds of wool sheep. “I’m a member of Local Cloth and volunteered to help organize Fiber Feel Day this year,” says Sanchez. “It will be my first year participating as a vendor, and I am very excited about exhibiting some handwoven tapestries from my Navajo Churro sheep fiber. I’ll also be doing a weaving demo during the event and will have some natural and hand-dyed Churro and llama yarn available for sale.”