Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Please Slow. Fibers at Play.

If you are reading this blog it is probably because 1) you know me (thanks, relatives and friends!) or 2) you enjoy reading about the crazy antics of raising fiber animals and the production of handmade fibers. If you fall into the second category then it means you are already, if even in a small or unknowing way, a supporter of the SLOW MOVEMENT.

The Slow Movement, as the name suggests, is about slowing down the pace of your life and making everyday decisions that promote renewal and reflection. One of the more popular branches of this movement is SLOW FOOD. Slow Food supports local and regional food systems. It means bypassing a fast food meal for one made at home from products/ingredients obtained from your farmer's market or local produce stand. I love their motto: Good, clean, and fair.

There is another branch of the movement you may be less familiar with: SLOW DESIGN. You can probably guess that Slow Design is about the process and approach in the development of textiles and fibers. It's using local and sustainable goods to make clothes and other garments. Slow Design also bleeds into other movements such as Slow Textiles or Slow Cloth.

For me, Slow Design, means raising fiber animals in a humane way and using practices (feeding, housing, etc.) that produce quality fibers from happy animals. It's about starting with the animal and its raw wool...

Diego, my first sheep.
 ...to making a handspun yarn.
Handpsun yarn from Diego's 2010 fleece.
It means seeking out opportunities and accepting invitations to sell handspun fibers to local customers at local events.

Peddling my wares at Miss Effie's Ice Cream Social.
Slow Design is about YOU taking this...
...and making this.
What inspired me to write this post is a chapter on Slow Textiles in a new book called The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr. Ms. Duerr writes that Slow Textiles is all about "the quality, innovation, and application of creating a textile yourself, supporting or appreciating a textile or garment from a community or artisan that practices slow and sustainable techniques..."

I am truly trying to be a member of the Slow Textiles movement, but I am not quiet there yet. I am getting better as sources and resources allow. I still use wool from non-local sources and chemical dyes, but I spin by hand and dye in small batches.

Like the Slow Food movement, I would rather sell you a handspun yarn than a commercial yarn when given the choice. I would rather spin a synthetic but sustainable fiber (like Ingeo corn) than wool obtained from sheep raised for meat production. As I said, I am trying to get better at all of these things, but it takes time...perhaps that's another reason why they call it Slow Movement!

Interested in learning more about Slow Textiles? Here's a short list to get you started.

10 Qualities of a Slow Cloth; follow Slow Cloth on FB, too.

FIBERSHED Project. Grown and Sewn Close to Home.
A blog about a woman who wore local clothes for one year.
Lovely current post about alpacas!

Local Wisdom. All about micro-scale social innovation in fashion.

Permacouture Institute. Fashion and Textiles from the Ground Up

"Showcasing Campaign for Clothes 100% Local", NY Times article.

SuperNaturale. Sometimes I Just Sits.
A website about "craftivity", DIY, and sustainable living.
Nice feature on dyeing with fungus!


  1. Lovely! Thanks for the links. I recently did a post about 'slow fibres' rather accidentally, after pondering the nature of our shearing process, and it is a delight to find a whole community out here. Best wishes, Margaret

  2. Margaret! Thank you so much for your comment. I just looked at your blog. It's wonderful and I love all the pics! We shear ourselves and, wow, it's slow for sure. I once told a lady that my marriage barely survived the shearing process. She said "what's said in shearing, stays in shearing?"!

  3. Let me know the next time you sell your yarn near home. I have friends who knit. Nancy( from down the street).

  4. Hi, Neighbor Nancy. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine, especially if they buy my yarn! :) I sell my yarn at the QC farmer's market and online at:www.etsy.com/shop/FarmGenevieve. I will have more yarn listed next week. Also, they are welcome to come over for a private viewing. Just let me know. Thanks for stopping by the blog. You should bring the grandkids over again. We have four new sheep--two lambs (Ava and Lola). The lambs are so cute and friendly.