The hardest thing about this Fibershed project has been working out where to start. What do I know about fibre production in Victoria?!
Visiting the Handweavers and spinners guild of Victoria was beginner’s luck. I’d learnt some of the terminology I needed to know. My hunch that there were still small producers of wool in and around Victoria had been confirmed. I’d learnt that few businesses process yarn commercially and gotten some ideas of what I could make (probably by hand). But I didn’t have any hard details on who to contact or where to go next. I felt lost and frustrated.
I turned to the best resource I know of: Google
I searched for wool, alpaca and linen farms in Victoria. I searched for mills and scourers. I searched for wool shows. The results were encouraging: I found several wool and alpaca farms, as well as a business that grows rabbits for fibre! I came across an organisation promoting the use of hemp (no farmers as yet) and learnt that Victoria had a huge war-time linen industry that appears to be no more (we do still have flax farms though). I discounted a few mills for this project, but found one potential contact in New South Wales and a scourer in Victoria. I found lots of wool shows 🙂
Then I asked for advice
I told friends of mine what I was working on and they gave me suggestions. Some were people: a natural dyer, a home sewer, a contact at a Tasmanian mill, a great suburban op shop. Some were organisations: RMIT textiles, the hand knitters guild of Victoria and Ethical clothing Australia. This reminded me to check the Handweavers and spinners guild’s website. I went to the links page and worked my way through them. This lead me to the links pages of weaving and spinning guilds in NSW, TAS, SA and ACT. I found a felting group, hand knitting and embroidery groups. Those sites lead me to natural dyers, a research mill, and lots of artisans.
All of a sudden, I had a wealth of people to contact. This now feels like an exciting treasure hunt, with lots of different possibilities! I’ve entered them all into my favourite project management app. Next step: start contacting people.