#1year1outfit – Two steps forward

I thought it was time I checked in with some progress on my outfit for #1year1outfit, because we have been busy here in sunny Perth!

At the start of the year I did some research into possible fabric sources in our Fibershed. I came up with a few possible leads: an alpaca farm, the Margaret River Hemp Factory, the Margaret River Silk Road, a wool store with hand spun local wool and an old flax mill. Sue has since discovered a fish leather farm, not a bad set of options, right!

With my partners in crime (Carolyn and Sue) we started our investigations with visit to the Fibre of the Gods Alpaca Mill in Toodjay. And boy was the trip worth it. Hazel showed us around the mill and talked through the milling process. It is extremely rare to find a working mill in Western Australia so we were ever so grateful that they were brave enough to set up this wonderful cottage industry.

The mill takes alpaca wool from their own farm and also does orders for other Australian farms and processes it into mostly custom ordered plys. They can also do customised felting.
Alpacas

AlpacasAlpacas
Alpacas

We also got to meet all the farm alpacas, who all were quite happy to get rather friendly. Hazel sells balls of alpaca wool from their own animals labelled with the alpacas name.

alpacas
The lovely thing about the wool was the natural colours, and I choose some black balls from Zac for a couple of reasons. It is very difficult to dye fibres in dark colours so I thought it would be unique to have some natural black in my outfit, also I love the idea of having a graphic black and white element to my outfit. Carolyn and Sue also picked up some balls, and I tell you what it was a relief to have some official Fibershed wool in my hot little hands. Yes. Part way there.

Alpacas

Alpacas

The elation of finding our very first fibre was somewhat dulled as last weekend when in Margaret River I popped into the hemp factory to see if the assertions made by their Fremantle staff that the fiber was local were indeed correct. But sadly, the owner told me that the hemp is all grown and processed in China. A sustainable fabric choice, but not as local as it seems. This was disappointing as it was our biggest hope to find a woven fabric.

So I have been rethinking my options. I want to knit part of my outfit but (given I am very new to knitting) I would really like to get something woven to work with. The ideas on the table are:

– weave some wool with different weights into something quite textural
– felt some wool
– felt some silk cocoons from the Silk Road
– convince the old flax mill to do a small demonstration run (This sounds great in my head but I have no idea where to start on this one??!)
– find out more about the fish leather
– look into any other left of field options eg I heard a rumour the University of WA textile group may growing a fabric from algae..

All of these options involve me learning new skills (one of them the art of negotiation) so sound pretty exciting to me, if a little scary.

I am also on the hunt for Indigoferis Australis (native indigo) if you happen to have any growing?

Image result for indigofera australis

(Picture from ACT Wild)

I also have some news from around the world to share:
Jess (US) has finished her first Fibershed garment, take that logo and wear it with pride Jess.
Erika (US) is moving mid year so is planning a bi coastal outfit from wool and cotton
Elle (UK) has been busily planning and visited a alpaca farm and a mill
Jule, Silvia and Ute (Germany) are working together and have sourced some wool, and silivia has even started a dye garden.
Libby (NZ) is going to centre her outfit around NZ wool – after receiving a full bag of fleece!
Helen and Nic (Melbourne) have only found wool so far within a 600m radius, and Helen has been to a natural dyeing workshop
Carolyn (Perth) is threatening to give her mums spinning wheel a go and Sue is considering making a garment for her husband.

Have you started investigating? What have you found so far? Or have you completed a garment like Jess?  Please let me know how you are going!

11 thoughts on “#1year1outfit – Two steps forward

  1. Fish leather sounds quite exciting! But it must be frustrating how hard it is to find woven fabric. I made the same experience with hemp and nettle here, organic, yes, but all grown in China and even Nepal! I wish I could have visited that alpaca farm with you. You know whose yarn I would have bought! I am also enjoying our across the world knitting, by the end of the year we will have gained knowledge, skill and experience! The third German lady is named Silvia 😉 I am really looking forward to dyeing lessons from Jule and using her yarn for my cardigan. Xx

  2. I love all the options you’ve found nearby. Fish leather sounds awesome! And the trip to the Alpaca farm sounds like such fun! I’m thinking for myself I’ll probably need to use a much larger radius, still researching though. And I’m saving up for a small loom! If nothing else I’d love to learn to weave this year.

  3. ooh, good start! I’m struggling here – can you give me some inspiration and tell me how you came to find out about these wonderful and varied places? I’ve got a good start on wool (I’m in Victoria, I figured that might be the easiest option) but I’m lost when it comes to finding leads on different options…

    • Hmm, I’ve thought about Melbourne as it is where we call home and will move back soon. You could try rmit textiles for ideas? Wool is great for dyeing and can be felted, knitted, woven so there are a few options there. You could also try spinning and v weaving groups and see if they have ideas.

      • Thanks 🙂 After having my little pity party, I jumped on Google and found a few more leads based on some of the key words you were using. RMIT textiles is a good idea I hadn’t thought of so they’re on the contact list! I’m slowly building ties with the spinners and weavers guild of Vic as they’re around the corner from me, they’ve got an amazing library and lots of interest groups 🙂

  4. Pingback: #1year1outfit Zac’s Tank Top | this is moonlight

  5. Pingback: alpaca cardigan; a 100% local product | Handmade by Carolyn

  6. Pingback: 20 things about 2015 | this is moonlight

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