The Fiber Patriot Project: A Call to Help Establish Guidelines for Best Practices

Introduction to the project…

For over three decades the artisan fiber mill industry has been maturing little by little. This continued effort has caused legitimate small scale “fiber forests” to reemerge on rural landscapes around the globe. This initial blog post is a call to fiber patriot pioneers to join in this timely project. We want to outline the best practices that help others who are venturing out onto rural landscapes of their own to establish guidelines from which they can inform their own practices.

My hope for this project is to curate the broad experience and knowledge base of practitioners. By doing this, those who engage in small scale fiber farming, and desire to grow a local fiber economy, will now have the resources necessary to do it the most effective and efficient way. This collaboration will focus on the guidelines for best practices for these various fiber projects and programs from “birth to box“. Those practices that are carried out by various artisan mills around the globe can be shared by the individual businesses themselves. As a byproduct, we believe that this will have a very beneficial impact on the effectiveness and efficiency at the artisan mill, and build healthy and dynamic relationships within our industry.

Fiber Patriot displaying her woven creation
Cultivating the creativity of God’s creation through craft

Framework for the Fiber Patriot Project

The framework for this project has three phases:

  • First, we will gather the resources and present them as a series of blog posts from guest bloggers.
  • Next, we will encourage the content to be peer reviewed on this blog via the comments.
  • Then, we will consider those comments as we edit these resources into a landing page on this website.

This project is dedicated to the many individuals who are involved in artisan fiber mill industry. This includes the fiber’s: production, procurement, and processing, with a focus those who have a “better not bigger” mentality. Fiber patriot pioneers are developing a sustainable rural lifestyle that is economically viable, and is daily rewarding. They practice daily diligence on their landscapes to provide local economies with value added products that allow their cultivation of creativity to be fruitful and multiply.

We have titled the three main areas as: pasture management, harvesting practices, and preparation for shipping. In order to keep this project succinct and simple this initial blog post will act as the landing page. We’re excited to begin this project, but we will need your help to fill out the framework of this outline. Do you want to be involved in this fiber patriot project? Email and include the main area and the topic within that area that you’d like to contribute to.

Pasture management:

Natural fibers come from animals that are birthed and raised on various landscapes. These animal fibers are directly influenced by the environment in which they live. Therefore, it is important to understand the potential impacts of these environmental effects. In general, the topics covered in this area are:

  • soil,
  • vegetable matter,
  • nutritional inputs,
  • external stressors,
  • and internal stressors upon the animals.

Harvesting practices:

Natural fibers require annually shearing, and in some cases twice per year. In some cases, multiple times per year. This critical step leverages the potential of value added processes, but much can occur to degrade that potential. Therefore, it is important to understand where these potential compromises can occur. In general, these topics fall into the following categories:

  • preparation of the animals prior to shearing,
  • order/progression of animals through the shearing shed,
  • shearing, skirting,  and sorting by color and grade into lots,
  • and accurate record keeping that’s easily retrievable.

Preparation for shipping: 

Fibers that have been correctly harvested need to be properly evaluated and stored. They have an already established plan to get them into the best pipeline for processing. This important step requires fiber to be properly stored. Fiber not correctly evaluated can be processed into a product that doesn’t allow it to leverage its full potential in the market.

As a result, the topics that are important to understand in this area are:

  • evaluating fiber characteristics for best end use,
  • storage conditions,
  • the best means to package the fiber for the lowest possible shipping costs,
  • and the least amount of handling as possible!

How to get involved?

Thanks in advance for your participation in this fiber patriot project! There’s lots of ways you could be involved. You can:

  • Email and include the main area and the topic within that area that you’d like to contribute to as a guest blogger.
  • add your comment to this post and share with us your thoughts and ideas about this project.
  • share this blog post with those who are dedicated and successful practitioners in the fiber universe, and encourage their contribution.
  • let your friends know about this content who are looking to venture out and start their own transformation of a rural landscape into their own diverse fiber forest.

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