The Recorder – ‘The Story of Cloth’ at Tilton Library explores the importance of the local wool economy


Posted: 07/18/2021 11:51:40 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD – A regional chapter of an international non-profit organization highlighted the creation of local and sustainable clothing during an event at the Tilton Library on Saturday afternoon.

Western Massachusetts Fibershed, a subsidiary of the California-based Fibershed organization, hosted an event called “The Story of Cloth” emphasizing the importance of the local fashion industries.

Fibershed is a non-profit farming organization whose mission statement, according to its website, is to develop “equity-driven regional and terrestrial natural fiber and dye systems,” while expanding beneficial farming options. for the climate.

Michelle Parrish, one of the chapter members, said the goal of the nonprofit is to identify ways to increase sustainability while helping local farmers.

“Contemporary industries produce an incredible amount of waste,” Parrish explained. “We want to build realistic alternatives. There is no shortage of raw materials. We’re lucky all the pieces are here.

She said that when someone buys something like a $ 6 t-shirt, the workers who made it don’t get a living wage.

“We want people to understand why local produce is expensive,” Parrish said. “Everyone along the way is paid fairly and the end product reflects the real cost. ”

Parrish said Western Massachusetts Fibershed wants to raise awareness of the local fashion economy and help farmers by “creating more market and demand.”

“The margins in agriculture are tiny,” Parrish said. “Farmers who have sheep have to shear them no matter what. If they don’t get a good price, they are going at a loss.

All materials at the event were from Franklin County sheep. Parrish said the process takes a while and their next batch of fabrics won’t start producing until the summer is over.

“It takes six to nine months,” Parrish said, “to get to the fabric stage, then someone has to sew it.”

In the area of ​​sustainability, Katie Cavacco, member of Western Massachusetts Fibershed, said wool is a “wonderful fiber” that can be reused in a number of ways, even if left in the rain or thrown in the trash.

She calls this process “creative reuse” and has her own business called Free Ramblin ‘Kids where she creates children’s clothes and toys from recycled wool.

“The fashion and textile industry has a blind spot when it comes to sustainability,” Cavacco said. “The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world.

Cavacco added that there has been a “huge rise” in the interest of sustainable fashion over the past five years and that the increase in local products allows people to support the economy while providing a chance to ‘help the environment.

“As individuals we have a lot of agency in the choices we make,” Cavacco said. “Now that we have more brands, farms and places offering local products, it becomes easier to make these good choices. ”

Amherst resident Laurie Francis said she attended Saturday’s event because she was interested in knitting and read a book about Fibershed’s efforts.

“I’m interested in the idea that we are separated from our clothes,” Francis said, pulling on his shirt. “The more you investigate, the more you learn. ”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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