2019: The Year of Natural Fibers

2019 is the Year of Natural Fibers at Awbury!

Natural fibers are any hairlike raw material directly obtainable from an animal, vegetable, or mineral source and convertible into nonwoven fabrics such as felt or paper or, after spinning into yarns or woven cloth. 

Natural fibers are the  materials that supply much of our clothing, bedding, linens and other everyday products that support our lives.  ❦ Natural fibers are renewable resources. ❦ If they are grown organically and sustainably, they enhance the lives of those who produce them and those who purchase them. ❦ Natural fibers decompose, naturally. ❦ They don’t give off plastic fibers which are then flushed into the waterways and oceans of the world. ❦ Natural fibers breathe. ❦ They act like a natural thermostat, wicking moisture away from the body when worn, and cooling it in hot weather.  They are insulating. They make up the fabric of our everyday lives from the sheets we sleep on to mechanical strength fibers used in constructing the vehicles we drive.

Awbury will be offering a variety of workshops and lectures to engage our community in learning about  fibers and the plants and animals that provide them. Materials we will be exploring include; flax, cotton, wool, bamboo, silk, cattails, cashmere, wood and paper, willow, milkweed, and hemp.

Our core programming this year is in partnership with the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers, who will lead monthly lectures and workshops.  PGHW is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster the art and craft of weaving and the fiberarts.  They are located in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, and their motto is “We learn by doing and grow by sharing.”

In addition to these monthly events the Cope House galleries will be exhibiting fiber arts throughout the year that explore not only the materials themselves but also social fabric, history, and cultural connections with natural fibers. 

We will also be creating a Secret Garden “Fiber Fantasy” by yarm bombing the AdventureWoods Natural Materials Playground, led by Philly Knits.  We welcome you to join us in knitting and crocheting these decorations!  Click here to learn about both the community stitching day (April 7th) and installation day (May 11th).

Please check our weekly eblast and events page for other activities and events throughout the year.

Year of Natural Fibers Events:

Taught by members of the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers

❦  Saturday, January 12, 2019 – Spin-In for St. Distaff Day

❦ Sunday, February 10, 2019 – Straw Weaving

❦ Sunday, March 10, 2019 – Weave a Wall Hanging on a Rigid Heddle Loom 

❦ Sunday, April 7, 2019 – Finger Weaving

❦ Sunday, May 19, 2019- Felting Fabulous Flowers

❦ Sunday, June 9, 2019 – Dyeing a Silk Scarf with Indigo

❦ Sunday, July 14, 2019 – Making Beads from Recycled Fabric and Cloth – 1pm to 3pm – Make large beautiful beads from fabric scraps, wire, and beads, which can be made into earrings or necklaces or to embellish other fiber projects. Ages 12 and up, including adults who like jewelry making! Class limited to 10 students. $15, includes all supplies. Click here for more information.

❦ Sunday, August 11, 2019 – Eco Printed Scarves – 1pm to 4pm – Make a beautiful scarf or cloth using Mother Nature’s products—leaves flowers and grasses.  We’ll dip, arrange, roll up, and steam plant materials on cloth, and leaving unique and permanent imprints on the cloth. Bring plant mate.rials collected from your own yard or neighborhood.  Ages 15 and up. Class limited to 8 students. $20, includes one silk scarf and a dowel for rolling and wrapping.  Click here for more information.

❦ Sunday, September 15, 2019 – Weave a Door Knob Basket – 1pm to 4pm – A great introduction to the art of basket weaving! Weave an easy and adorable basket to hang on a door knob and fill with dried flowers or anything of your choice.   Ages 13 and up. Class limited to 8 students. $15, includes material fee. Click here for more information.

❦ Sunday, October 13, 2019 – Fabric Wreaths –  1pm to 4pm – Create a seasonal wreath from your favorite fabrics or recycled clothing by cleverly tying strips to a wire wreath frame.  Some fabric will be provided, and if you want to make use of your favorite colors, you may bring your own.  Class limited to 8 students. $20, includes wreath form, wire, and recycled fabrics.  Click here for more information.

❦ Sunday, November 10, 2019 – Weave an iPad or tablet bag on a Rigid Heddle Loom – 1pm to 4pm – Weave a fun and funky bag for your tablet or iPad, or even make a wine bottle bag using a simple rigid heddle loom (a.k.a. “knitters loom”).  Students can use “plarn” (yarn made from plastic bag strips) or fabric strips from new or recycled fabric.  Ages 15 and up. Class limited to 6 students. $25, includes loom rental fee and pre-warped loom.

❦ Sunday, December 8, 2019 – Dinner with Speaker Barbara Parman: The Fiber Mills of Northwest Philadelphia –  5pm to 8pm


Presenting: Awbury’s 2019 series on natural fibers!

Articles written by La Salle graduate and Awbury intern Dan Sardaro.

January – Flax

Flax is one of the oldest domesticated crops.  While many plants of its time were grown for food, flax broke the mold and began being cultivated for its ability to be made into linen.

Click here to read the full article.

February – Cotton

This month’s post explores the origins and impact if cotton – a plant whose cultural and social ramifications includes having shaped the commodification of enslaved Africans in America.

Click here to read the full article.

March – Coir

Did you know that the coconut you find in the store has already had its shell removed, and that that outer husk contains a robust, coarse fiber that can be used in ropes and cordage, mats, flooring, and more?

Click here to read the full article.

April – Hemp

Hemp is ancient – cultivated earlier than any other fiber we will learn about this year. Originating in Central Asia, the plant spread across the world to Europe, East Asia, and eventually America. In fact, hemp was a staple to colonial America.

Click here to read the full article.

May – Kudzu

Yes, kudzu is a quickly-growing invasive vine that made its home here many years ago, but did you know that it also can be used to make everything from baskets, paper, and starch to healing treatments and even clothing?

Click here to read the full article.

June – Silk

Silk, like all of our fibers this year, is naturally occurring, but the process of systematically producing the fiber is called sericulture.  This begins with the silkworm – the larva of the moth that produces the actual fibrous material.

Click here to read the full article.

July – Milkweed

This fiber can be used as a less expensive filler than down, in pillow cases, comforters, and even some jackets since it is a soft and hypoallergenic substance.

Click here to read the full article.

 

 


Past years:

2016 – Awbury Arboretum’s Centennial

Corresponding article series: The Country in the City: Natural History in Northwest Philadelphia

2018 the Year of the Pollinator

Corresponding article series: Pollinators– from wasps to wind