Tag Archives: fibre industry

Gn’R Alpaca Farm and Fibre Boutique

GnR Logo

Gail is a mother to 7 male alpacas: Carter, Pirelli, Durango, Voodoo, Paxton, Ekelon and Hanley, a farm owner, and fibre artist.

Gail was an Arts and Crafts Instructor with Aurora Parks and Recreation for several years through the 70’s, graduated with a 3 year Material Arts – Weaving and Textiles Diploma from Georgian Collage in 1980.

Gail has always been involved in crafts of some form or other. As a children’s craft instructor, Girl Guide leader, craft presenter at her children’s school she has always had a special interest in the fibre arts. Now she has a farm, Gn’R Alpaca Farm, where she raises alpacas so she can have her own fleece to play and design with. She mostly hand processes the fleece from sheering, picking, washing, carding, felting and or spinning…more

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Fleece Alert!

Linc Farm Upper Canada Fibreshed

 

Fresh Fleece Available

Linc Farm has recently completed a shearing and have a lovely selection of fresh Finnsheep x Rambouillet (or Newfoundland) fleece for sale in the online store.

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5 Take-Home Lessons from the Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium

This year the Upper Canada Fibreshed was invited to participate as speakers in the Wool and Fine Fibre Symposium, hosted by the original Fibershed in Merin County, California. UCFS co-founder Jennifer Osborne presented on the history, membership and projects of UCFS and member Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks spoke on her use of UCFS fibre in her locally-based fashion.

 peggy sue and jennifer upper canada fibreshed wool symposium 2016 fibershed

The Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium

For everyone who’s been following us online this fall you know that our fibreshed co-founders, Becky Porlier and Jennifer Osborn, were invited to speak at this year’s Wool and Fine Fiber Symposium along with our fibreshed member Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks, founder and creative director of Peggy Sue Collection. (Due to the arrival of her second child, the beautiful Severine, Becky was not able to make the trip).

The Wool and Fine Fiber Symposium is hosted annually by the original Fibershed in Merin County, California. The Symposium features panel discussions from farmers, makers and fibershed community members, as well as a marketplace with demonstrations.

jennifer osborn upper canada fibreshed fibershed wool symposium

Both Jennifer and Peggy Sue delivered dynamite presentations that were very well received by the audience. Jennifer highlighted the history, fibre varieties and membership of UCFS and outlined our current and future projects. Peggy Sue shared her story of creating her award-winning high-fashion line using only local fibres and local labour.

Now that we’ve had time to sleep off the jet-lag allow us to share some of what we learned.

5 Take-Home Lessons from the Symposium

 

  1. Farmer-to-Farmer Conversations Are Very Valuable

  2. From breeding practices to predator control listening to the panels discuss farming practices amongst themselves and with the audience was insightful, even for the non-farmers. It was also clearly helpful for all the farmers in the room. These opportunities to share information, strategies and best-practices are invaluable. The more these can be facilitated, whether formal or informal, the better for everyone looking to understand a fibreshed from the soil upwards.

    mohair-goat upper canada fibreshed fibershed wool symposium

     

  3. New Economic Spaces Are Developing

  4. We heard a lot of discussion around new economic spaces like using sheep flocks for custom grazing (in California this is for fire control purposes) and the need for skilled and knowledgeable shepherds. While grazing for fire control isn’t likely to be widely used in Ontario, the potential for flocks to be used as alternative lawn mowers is very real within our municipalities. Rather than viewing sheep as a single-use animal, farmers are increasingly looking for multiple uses and income-streams from their flocks.

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  5. Don’t Throw Out The Coarse Wool

  6. While our understanding of what “coarse wool” is certainly differs between Merin County and Upper Canada, it was refreshing to see heavier wools being understood as useful. Many of us are familiar with wool blankets and throws (ahem…Upper Canada Mercantile) but what about wool duvets and comforters? Wool mattresses? Wool pillows? Wool’s capacity to absorb moisture while remaining warm and its fire resistant quality make it ideal for bedding. Moral of the story: get creative with your coarse wool.

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  7. Climate Beneficial Farming Is Here

  8. Fibershed is partnering with researchers at UC Davis to track the carbon-sequestration of land management systems that focus on building soil carbon through manure application and careful pasture management. The research, gathered through the Citizen Science Protocol and Climate Beneficial Wool, is tracking how carbon is being draw-down from the atmosphere and moving through the ecosystem. The clothing and textiles made from the fibres of animals involved in this research are addressing climate change one sweater at a time.

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  9. Become A Prosumer

Producer + Consumer = Prosumer. This simple formula was shared with us around the Community Supported Cloth project, a new initiative which is asking folks to fund the development of locally grown and USA produced wool fabric by pre-purchasing yardage. Rather than blindly consuming or producing in isolation, the prosumer is involved in and connected to both the production and consumption processes. On the simple end, this may look like knowing your fibre farmer and towards the more complex end of the spectrum it can mean supporting a project like the Community Supported Cloth.

 

Be sure to check out our Instagram page for photos and commentary from the day itself!

 


Lickety Spit Fibre Farm

Lickety Spit Farm Logo

 

Lickety Spit Fibre Farm, home to sheep, alpaca, ducks and chickens, is a new breed of farm.

Rather than a traditional family, this farm is run by two friends, Melinda Ramsay and Michelle Bain. Instead of focusing on one fibre animal, this farm keeps sheep and alpaca together in one flock. And, of course, rather than pushing for land-use intensity this farm works to maintain a space that benefits not only the humans but the animals and the plants.

In the words of Melinda and Michelle, “We try to keep our (hoof)prints small”.

Melinda and Michelle come from very different backgrounds. Melinda, who also works on the television program Mayday, is a former Torontonian. Michelle, a former commercial sheep farmer, was born and bred in rural Ontario. Together, these two perspectives are building a farm based on organic husbandry and happy animals.

Sheep on pasture at Lickety Spit Farm

Lickety Spit’s flock includes Romney, Icelandic sheep and Blue Faced Leicester cross sheep, as well as Huacaya alpacas. Environmental integrity and ethical treatment of their animals informs the entirety of the farm’s operations.

All the creatures enjoy the luxury of pasture and barn protection, including the chickens with their chicken tractor and the ducks with their own pond. The farm’s manure is composted and used to support the soil and additional feed for the alpacas and sheep is locally-sourced and GMO-free.

Sheep and Guardian Dog in pasture at Lickety Spit Farm

This effort and dedication to environmental and ethical integrity is clearly seen in the high quality of the farm’s fibre. Lickety Spit Fibre Farm produces a beautiful range of naturally coloured alpaca, wool and blended yarns, all milled locally.

Additional fibre products, such as Alpaca Socks and Insoles, Felt-Your-Own-Soap kits, Laundry Balls and Goat’s Milk Soaps are either made on-farm or via producers that share the farm’s ethics.

When asked why they joined the Upper Canada Fibreshed, Melinda is quick to respond “I think that philosophically it’s really a part of [our] belief system[s]. We have to support and foster these skills if we want to survive.”

You can find Lickety Spit Farm and their Etsy shop at www.licketyspitfarm.ca


We Made the Paper!

Upper Canada Fibreshed did a presentation at the Guelph Organic Conference at the end of January. We were fortunate enough to be written up by Jeffery Carter of The Western Producer. He did a great job of summing up UCFS.

UCFS was writtenup in The Western Producer, a major Canadian A

UCFS was writtenup in The Western Producer, a major Canadian A