Madeline Keller-King displays her “Big Sky Rainbow Ensemble,” winner of the color category.
They came from all over Montana: designers, makers, and fiber producers all converged on the Emerson Center for the Arts in Bozeman on Saturday, October 8, for the first Montana Fibershed sponsored Farm-to-Fashion event, a showcase for local cloth. And what a convergence it was! From the day-long marketplace selling Montana fiber products of all sorts, to the early afternoon panel discussion on Montana’s fiber economy, to the grand finale of the Farm-to-Fashion Show on the Emerson stage, it was a day filled with excitement.
We envisioned this event as an opportunity to share the Montana Fibershed mission of creating connections between fiber producers and end-users, fostering conversations about our local textile systems, and sharing knowledge of sustainable practices to enhance our stewardship of the land. As we had hoped, people of many diverse interests attended and enjoyed learning about the fascinating world of Montana textiles and fiber.
The panel discussion brought important issues to light, including current successes and challenges within our local fiber and textile economy. The panel featured a broad spectrum of expertise, including Dr. George Haynes, Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU; Linda Poole, regenerative grazing specialist for NCAT based in Butte; Dr. Trey Riddle, Chief Strategy Officer for INDHEMP in Ft. Benton, and Mike Somerby, Marketing Director of Duckworth Co. of Dillon. Each panelist shared their work and insights into the promise and potential of Montana’s textile economy. The discussion sparked further conversation as audience members gathered afterwards to learn more.
The beautiful Farm-to-Fashion Show was an extraordinary ending to the day. This event had inspired Montana designers and makers all over the state to create clothing and accessories with local fiber. The quality of work was wonderful, and each garment was lauded by the enthusiastic audience. A wide variety of sheep breeds were represented: Targhee, Rambouillet, Suffolk, Merino, Lincoln, CVM, Icelandic, Ronmey, Gotland, Corriedale, Navajo Churro, Blue-faced Leicester, as well as alpaca, cashmere, bison and even quiviut (musk ox) fibers, all raised in Montana. Additionally, the makers employed many creative techniques such as weaving, knitting, hand spinning, sewing, plant-dying, wet-felting and nuno-felting. The show was indeed a feast for the eyes.
Our organizing committee is delighted with the enthusiasm for our first big event. If you aren’t yet a member, please consider joining your Montana Fibershed. Your support is invaluable as we prepare to announce upcoming projects for 2023. You may even find just the volunteer niche you’ve been seeking! Join like-minded friends in supporting local producers and makers, local supply chains, and sustainable practices related to our clothing. You may find more information on membership, sourcing fiber, makers’ stories and photos at montanafibershed.org.
Barb French, Committee Chair
Carol Remington models her “Teal Treasures Shawl”, the winner of the weaving category