Local Cloth, an Asheville, NC nonprofit founded in 2012 by former WARP Board member Judi Jetson, will share some exciting news about one of their most ambitious projects: Blue Ridge Blankets. The mission of this project is to help revitalize the fiber economy in western North Carolina, by connecting fiber farmers, processors, dyers and weavers together, to produce locally sourced and crafted blankets. In 2021, with grant support from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Local Cloth began gathering fiber across the Blue Ridge Mountains with a vision in mind: to make local blankets. They sourced fine wool, mohair and alpaca from 14 different farms in the region, which was then hand picked, spun into yarn, hand dyed with natural, heritage colors (indigo, madder root, walnut, weld) and woven into 19 different designs. In 2022, production began on the five most popular designs which are now for sale. Each blanket is named for a town or city where the farmers, dyers and weavers for the project reside, or one of the mountains or watersheds that grace our region. For more about the Blue Ridge Blankets Project, visit the web page.
Judi Jetson is a fiberactivist with a community economic developer’s heart. She’s been making things with fiber since her grandmother taught her to knit at age 5, did tie dye and batik in the 60s, learned to weave in the 80s and added lots of techniques to her fiber artist skill set while a member of the Pinellas (FL) Weavers Guild in the 90s and 2000s. During this time she worked with state and local governments and the US Small Business Administration, to address job creation, the farm crisis and rural economic development. In 2010 she combined her love of craft with her profession as an economic developer and joined HandMade in America. For the past 12 years she’s led a nonprofit she helped found – Local Cloth – to grow the fiber economy in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Former Vice-Chair of the WARP Board, today Judi likes to knit, spin, dye, weave and make paper and loves yarnbombing.
Donna Edwards is a fiber artist living in Burnsville, NC. Donna’s passion for textiles started as a young girl, as she watched her grandmother and mother crochet, sew, and quilt. She went on to study clothing and textiles and history at UNC-Greensboro, completed a master’s degree in education at Appalachian State University in the 1990s, and for several decades spun around corporate ladders pursuing a career in learning design and business development and remained a fiber hobbyist. In 2020, she decided to pursue weaving full-time and is a recent graduate from the Haywood Community College (HCC) Professional Craft Program. Her current interest is working with reclaimed textiles. Her first work was exhibited this summer at the Southern Folk Art Center.
Elizabeth Strub raises heritage-breed sheep (Jacob, Blue-faced Leicester, Border Leicester) for conservation and wool, chickens for eggs, fertilizer and pest control and llamas for browse control, fun and fiber. Her Hobbyknob Farm is located in the blue ridge mountains near Asheville, NC where she likes to play with colors and has learned to dye; she spins fleece and makes her own blends of fiber. Strub first started looking into raising animals in 2000 and eventually became interested in the Jacob, which is hardy and easy to raise. She is on the Board of Local Cloth and active in the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association. Fleece from Hobbyknob Farm will be part of the 2024 edition of Blue Ridge Blankets.