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Athens Fiber Faire: Buying and wearing local

Of the many industries that contribute to the degradation of the environment, the textile industry is one of the most harmful. The reason for this is the size of the industry’s carbon footprint, which grows with each production stage, from harvesting materials to creating the fabric, to the truck that distributes the clothing to the stores. Oftentimes the articles’ tags spell out countries’ names other than “U.S.A.” When living in a country that depends heavily on imports, it can be challenging to find locally made clothes, let alone clothes made in the U.S.

Luckily, this fall season there will be an opportunity for people in Athens to purchase locally made and produced clothing. On Saturday, October 1st from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 2nd from noon to 5:00 p.m., the 3rd annual Athens Area Fiber Faire will host knit, crochet and other fiber designers at the Athens Community Center.

This year the Fiber Faire committee hopes to bring in more people by presenting their first ever featured headline designer, Anne Hanson. Hanson, who lives in Canton, Ohio, has traveled all around the nation teaching classes and giving seminars to fiber designers of all kinds.

“Anne is a versatile designer who has patterns for beginners and advanced knitters,” said committee member Stephanie Hayes.

Hanson started her career in New York City, but moved to Ohio and started her business Knitspot in 2002 after finding it difficult to start a fiber craft business in the city. Looking back on her decision to move to a suburban area in Ohio, Hanson believes she made the right choice.

“It’s a more country feel here. Everyone is very friendly and wants to get to know one another and talk,” said Hanson.

Since she moved to Ohio, Hanson has had greater success with her business, especially at events where the sheep and alpacas are sold in the same venue as the wool. Being a designer who wants her company to produce the smallest carbon footprint possible, going to events like this helps her get in contact with local farmers and mills to produce her material.

“Most yarn and even textiles that are produced for the crafts market are produced offshore in China and Turkey, so there aren’t many companies that make yarn completely in the U.S.,” said Hanson. “But we’re one of them, and over 50 percent of our yarn is produced right here in Ohio.”

Over 90 percent of Hanson’s animal fiber is produced in the U.S. She enjoys building relationships with the animal farmers who provide her fibers, and connecting those farmers to local mills. By doing this, Hanson creates a three-way business relationship that benefits all parties.

“The way we do it, it’s about as local of a yarn product as you can make,” said Hanson, “and lots of people are looking for products that have a smaller carbon footprint, using products that are more real and that are made in the U.S., so we are their opportunity to do that.”

At this years Fiber Faire, Knitspot plans to sell natural colored fibers, a type of fiber that has recently peaked her interest. “Animal fiber comes in a wide range of shades and colors, so we began producing our own line of undyed yarn. The entire color range is just what the animals produce,” said Hanson.

With this line of natural colored yarn, Hanson hopes her customers can create clothing both professional and versatile. With her form-fitting designs and natural colors, people can wear the clothes they create to work and easily pair them with other pieces in their wardrobe.

In addition to buying high quality yarn, purchasing Knitspot products also helps nonprofits like Doctors Without Borders and Foster Care to Success. Hanson said the reason she has been able to support these organizations is because of the kindness of her customers.

“Knitters are very generous and find a lot of joy in what they create and how it can help others,” said Hanson. “I wish everyone would knit!”

The Fiber Faire is for beginners, experts, children and anyone who appreciates art and getting connected with local artists. Along with Anne Hanson, there will be many other vendors selling their craft, as well as knitting classes for all levels, documentary screenings about the art of knitting, scavenger hunts for children and so much more.

Photos provided by Anne Hanson

 


 

Kaitlin is more than ready to put her green thumb, journalistic mind, and quirky artistic self to work here at College Green Magazine. Kaitlin is a freshman in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is planning on specializing in environmental studies. Having a passion for the arts as well, Kaitlin is a part of The Lost Flamingo Company at Ohio…

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