You may have noticed that some of our products have a new logo ‘pinned’ to their description. This logo indicates that these products meet the Fibreshed criteria:
- Made using 100% natural fibres and natural dyes (if used)
- Produced within one or more of our Fibreshed’s counties; Cumbria, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and/or Cheshire
- Traceable provenance of all materials used
- Regenerative and/or organic and/or biodynamic farming practices supported
- Transparent and informative product labelling re: biodegradability etc.
Laura’s Loom has always sourced the bulk of our wool from farms in and around Sedbergh, our hometown which sits on the border of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. Except for the Real Shetland wool which we buy to blend with our Hebridean and other black wools, we now source all of our raw material from farms within a 30 mile radius of our lovely market town.
Not all of our farmers want publicity but we can tell you exactly where the wool in your blanket/scarf/socks comes from. We visit the same farms every year and have developed long-standing and trusting relationships with all of our wool suppliers, going on for more than 12 years now. We can also tell you that at least three of the farms we source from practice organic and/or regenerative methods of farming — Whingill Farm in Cumbria, Backsbottom Farm in Lancashire, and Hill Top Farm in the Yorkshire Dales. We hope that their methods will gradually become more commonplace amongst all farmers and that the link between the way animals are farmed, how we use their fibres for our clothes and how all of the processes involved affect our environment and us in turn, will become much better understood by the general public.
Our wool is scoured and spun in West Yorkshire. All of our woven products (except for the handwoven pieces which I make myself) are woven for us by a weaver in Langholm, another lovely market town which sits just over the border from Cumbria in the Scottish Borders region. Drove Weavers is actually the closest weaving mill to us, being just 70 miles away by road, and we have a longstanding and very happy relationship with them. Our socks are still knitted in Leicestershire, which is outside our Northwest Fibreshed region but again, this is a longstanding relationship which shouldn’t be knocked for the sake of geography. The fact is the yarn that makes the socks is still very much a local product and the benefits go straight to my farmers and are returned to my local community through sales in local outlets.
We haven’t used the Fibreshed logo on any of our dyed products as the dyes are not natural but this is something we are working towards.
Fibreshed for me feels like I have come full circle in my life. At 18, I went to university to study Human Environmental Studies at Kings College in London. It was a relatively short-lived degree programme, way ahead of its time, but it solidified for me what I could see even with a child’s eyes — that man’s impact on his environment was massive and we ignored it at our peril. At King’s we studied the relationship between man and his environment, learning about natural cycles and how they affected human physiology and psychology (lead, asbestos, water, fossil fuels….), as well as looking at how human decisions affected those natural cycles (tearing up hedgerows, building on floodplains, monocultures…). I then went on to study Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, under the great Ian McHarg and his successor Ann Whiston Spirn. I came away from Penn with skills in Geographic Information Systems. Again, I was there as this new technology was beginning to take off. GIS gave us a new way of looking at the world, through the medium of maps, enabling us to look ‘between the layers’ to seek a deeper understanding of the relationships between man and nature.
Fibreshed is in the same mode. It pushes the message that whatever we do to the land will affect us in one way or another, whether we like it or not. It behoves us to listen to nature and to find ways to work in harmony, together.