We are creating a garment with local fiber and color. The Woven Seascape is hand-woven by our artisan-in-training as part of our heritage preservation work, inspired by encounters with weavers around the world who maintain their creative traditions in the face of globalizing forces that leave craft and tradition behind. The garment is composed of alpaca and wool from New England, (while the warp is non-local linen), and the yarns are hand-dyed in indigo (Persicaria tinctorial) that we grow organically on our farm.

By sourcing locally grown and spun fiber and organically growing our own natural dyes we are helping to build regional fiber systems that support our economy and ecosystems, rather than draining them. Though this project we distribute economic impact within our community, amongst farmers and family run mills and artisans, rather than outsourcing this labor and skill, where working conditions and practices are unknown and potentially abusive. By employing soil regenerative techniques for our dye farm we sustain healthy soils, which ultimately contribute to the health of our waterways. Our growing practices also nourish many species of insects and critical pollinators. All these intensions and actions are positioned within the making of this one, exquisite garment, a Seascape interwoven with our regional systems.

  • Prototyping the garment, pining seaweed-printed silk trim
  • Weaving in progress, alpaca and wool weft, linen warp
  • Alpaca yarn dyed with indigo grown on our farm
  • Detail from garment prototype
  • Detail of the back of garment prototype
  • The Woven Seascape prototype under development

Weaving, the act of integrating threads to create fabric, it is a tradition that has existed for thousands of years, and has played a major role in human history. Native people all over the world, including tribes in the New England, have strong weaving traditions, creating woven baskets, rugs, and clothing. Providence and New England are deeply connected to textiles through the industrial revolution, when weaving mills were built along our waterways and New England became a hub for textile manufacturing. 

The textile industry, however, was a large contributor to the pollution of river-ways in Rhode Island and still is a large contributor to pollution around the world because of all the chemicals used throughout the process of textile production, from the unsustainable growing of fiber plants to the toxic dyeing and finishing processes of the product. There are many people pushing for sustainable and ethical change on large and small scales, giving us hope for the future of the textile industry.

In the summer of 2021 we revived a vintage loom (weaving machine) that sat in the back of a dusty barn in New Hampshire, and we began the creative process of developing patterns that capture the essence of our coastline. Clara Boberg,  ( RISD Textiles ’23) was our weaver and pattern designer, and they are now training our new weaver, Alejandra, to replicate the pattern so we can make some clothes! We are, simultaneously, searching for an additional weaver, already skilled in this craft, from our refugee or immigrant community, to join the team for 2022. If you know somebody, please let us know!

  • Handloom weaver, research trip to Sri Lanka, photo credit: Lucas Vasilko, http://lucasvasilko.com
  • An artisan from the natural dye cooperative, Bii Dau in the town of Teotital del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, on a research trip early 2020
  • Clara Boberg, getting ready to weave on our newly rejuvenated loom
  • Clara showing Alejandra how to weave our pattern
  • Clara and Alejandra discussing the woven textile
  • Sampling alpaca yarn and our natural dye palette
  • A freshly set indigo vat, ready for blue dye
  • Indigo plant let to flower early in the Fall to feed pollinator species
  • A beautiful praying mantis in the indigo patch
  • Lambs from Walking Cloud Farm, Massachusetts. Photo from the Western Mass Fibershed (where we source our wool)
  • Wool from Western Mass Fibershed
  • Fibershed is an advocacy group dedicated to the sustainable farm-to-fiber movement