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!