All this Fibreshed research is well and good, but reading and learning isn’t enough. We want to do something with this information, don’t we? I’ve been thinking about how to encourage more people to interact with Fibreshed and start playing with the resources in their (mostly metaphorical) backyard. I have big ideas on what this could look like, but I’m feeling the limitations of my available time and ability to make that vision occur. What small thing could I do to set the ball rolling towards more participation and community?
Solution: a Knitalong
Fibershed California just launched a global Knitalong project. The idea is that everyone will knit the same pattern, but with a yarn local to them. We’ll be drawn together by working on a shared project, but have awesomely varied products to show at the end of it!
I’m organising this on the fly and by myself, so I won’t be keeping us to Fibreshed California’s Dec 17 end date. I’m also mindful that the busyness of Christmas is around the corner, let alone the heat of summer! The Melbourne Fibreshed will complete in 2017, to allow down-under knitters time to sign up to the project, gather socially and complete their garments.
Emily Cunetto has released a shawl pattern especially for this Knitalong: Radiata is designed to highlight the qualities of local fibres. It can be made in a range of yarns from featherweight through to bulky. Its an easy pattern, so even a novice knitter like myself can participate. You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry or from Emily’s website.
I’ve called up all the local yarn providers I know and made a spreadsheet of what they have available for this project. Check out the list to see what you would like to work with. The product descriptions are basic, so I encourage you to call the providers to talk it over in more detail.
This spreadsheet is open for anyone to edit; you’re welcome to add additional providers. Remember all listed products must be produced with local fibres, local labour and local dyes. Local in this case means within 500km of Melbourne.
We’ve got a band of knitters participating already. Some are novice knitters like myself, others have spun their own yarn! They’re located across Melbourne and regional centres. I’ll be introducing the producers on the Fibreshed Melbourne Facebook group, as well as posting updates as our shawls progress.
To help us feel connected, I have organised several meetups. We’ll meet physically where possible, and also connect digitally over video conference. I’ll be inviting our local fibre farmers and yarn producers to join those calls. Just think: a knitalong where you get to talk directly to the people who made your yarn, and they get to see what you’ve made with it!
To join in, sign up. Filling out the online form helps me to make the project work the best it can for you, from organising community meetups in your area/online to keeping you up to date with all the project details.
Regardless of whether you’re participating this year, follow the hashtag #fibershedKAL on Instagram to see what knitters around the world are making from their Fibreshed.