How We’re Supporting Central NC’s Fiber Community in Tough Times

Piedmont Fibershed has big plans for 2020. The international crisis of COVID-19 has only heightened the need for building a sustainable regional fiber economy and supporting local businesses. So rather than slow down, we’re adjusting our plans to best serve our community of farmers, manufacturers, artisans, and supporters.

Small fiber and textile businesses are suffering like other small businesses as our communities must shut down to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Carolina FiberFest, one of the major events for local fiber producers to sell fleeces, yarn, and other products, was cancelled due to the pandemic, resulting in significant lost revenue for many.

This spring, we’re doing this by raising funds that will go directly to local fiber farmers and other local small businesses and building resources to connect people related to fiber and textiles in North Carolina.

Fundraising to support local farms and artisans

In February, we launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase supplies to build a portable natural dye studio for workshops and loan to local artisans. Natural dyes can be a sustainable source of color for our clothes and other textiles and an alternative to toxic and/or petroleum-based synthetic dyes. Like local food, local dyes connect what grows in our community with what our community consumes.

Our goal for the campaign is to raise $3,000 to purchase both supplies for dyeing fibers and fabric (like induction cookers and big pots) and a library of books and other materials with dye recipes. You can see a sample cost list at our GoFundMe page.

Now, we’ve decided that, rather than wait to reach our full goal, we will use whatever funds we’ve raised by April 10 to purchase supplies from local farms and businesses to get some cash flowing to our community. Our mini-goal is $500 to purchase all the yarn we’ll need for 9 dye workshops we’ll be offering later this year. (Local yarn costs $15-$45 a skein because it is raised by small farmers and artisan made). We’re less than $200 away from that $500 goal! Anything we raise beyond that will be used to start purchasing other supplies, which we’re also committed to buying from locally-owned businesses. Donate now!

As an incentive, anyone who donates $50 or more will become an official Piedmont Fibershed Supporter! Supporters will get a Piedmont Fibershed tshirt and discounts on all of our workshops. Anyone who has already donated as this level will become a Supporter, too.

Building resources to connect central NC’s fiber and textile community

We asked our fiber and textile community how Piedmont Fibershed could help them in this difficult time, and they asked for resources that would help connect and inform our community about fiber and textile businesses in our region. We’re answering that request with two initiatives: the North Carolina Fiber and Textile Exchange Facebook group and a directory of local fiber and textile resources.

The North Carolina Fiber and Textile Exchange Facebook group

The North Carolina Fiber and Textile Exchange is a Facebook group for people in North Carolina to share resources, supplies, and knowledge about fiber and textiles. At several of our in-person meetings we’ve created “Haves” and “Needs” board to track what resources and needs we have in our community. Think of this group as an online “Haves” and “Needs.” So far we’ve got folks offering fleeces, a weaving loom, and more. Anyone can request to join the group.

Directory of local fiber and textile resources

Central North Carolina has an incredible wealth of fiber and textile businesses and organizations, but many people don’t know about them and what they have to offer. So, we’re working to build a directory of businesses and organizations we can host on the Piedmont Fibershed website. To join the directory, submit your information here:

Looking forward

While we don’t know exactly how things are going to go over the next weeks and months, we are hopeful and continue to plan for the near future. We continue to plan a series of natural dye workshops we hope to start offering as soon as our portable dye studio is funded and we can safely meet in groups again. We’re also working to form a steering committee to manage our operations and programs. And we of course want to keep building a community. If you want to be a part of our efforts, sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We look forward to having you join us!