Montana is a great place to grow wool! The dry climate brings out bright colors and shiny luster that hand spinners love. As testament to this, on June 25, 2022, a group of five fleeces from Steitzhof Merinos was awarded the Black Sheep Cup for the best group of fleeces for hand spinning out of a show of 500.
The Black Sheep Gathering is a show of colored fiber animals, colored fiber, and fiber arts. It was started 47 years ago by a group of fiber artists and shepherds who were witnessing the decline of colored sheep and heritage breeds and felt an urgency to preserve colored fiber. Their determination earned them a stern letter from the Australian Government who told US officials to STOP these women before they destroyed the wool industry.
This did not happen and 47 years later the wool industry is even stronger
“We are proud to be part of the Montana farm industry and the Fibershed movement that promotes ‘Grow local; wear local,’” says Carol Steitz. “One of my greatest rewards is when an artisan sends a picture of a gorgeous garment they have created from the merino wool grown on our farm.”
“We proudly produce a quality product and each year ship fleeces across the U.S. and to foreign countries” – says John Steitz. Steitzhof is a registered Grown in Montana farm and in addition to raw fleece, sells roving and yarn manufactured at The Wool Mill in Bozeman. Truly, Made in Montana products!
Just as the Black Sheep Gathering is a community that supports colored fiber, Fibershed is a movement to develop regional fiber systems that build ecosystem and community health.
The newly formed Montana Fibershed will hold its first event this fall to celebrate Montana fiber growers, producers, users, and wearers. The Farm to Fashion Event will culminate in a fashion show showcasing garments made from Montana Fiber. Carol Steitz will be there dressed head to toe in Merino, of course. Carol has been working with artisans from the Alpine Weavers and Spinners Guild in Kalispell, MT to create an ensemble of garments including: A crochet sweater, by Laura Roberts; a skirt made from fabric hand woven by Ann Keenan, and a felted top hat knit by Mary Werner of Mary’s Little Lambs.
What are you wearing to the Fashion Show? https://www.montanafibershed.org/fashion-show
See you at the Event! October 8, 2022, 9 AM to 6 PM at the Emerson Center, Bozeman.