by Susan Hedge
Last month I took a deep dive into the culture of fiber by “binge listening” to Fiber Nation, an
Interweave podcast. Allison Korleski, the host, takes the listener from Scotland — where we
learn the evolution of tartans and how the patterns became a market- ing scheme in the 1800s
— to the American West to glimpse the Sheep and Cattle Wars. Did you know that sheep were
bringing in more money than cattle, which became part of the struggle?
I love stories and glom onto bits of information or trivia, especially when it relates to fiber. Fiber
Nation began in February 2021 and is billed for knitters, but it explores not only the “how to”
but the “culture” of all fiber arts. My favorite is “The Donner Party and the Doll.” Remember
the wagon train that was stranded atop the Rockies, and its party was reported to resort to
cannibalism rather than starve? An eight-year-old girl named Patty managed to hold onto a
small doll whose homemade clothing would later explain more about the people and the treacherous journey.
There are interviews with Kate Larson, magazine editor, who takes us into her understanding
of what it is to be a shepherd and how she manages her flock. Kate explains her method of
culling her flock and her commitment to the sheep she cares for. Also interviewed is Deb
Robson, co-author of the “Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook,” who explains why the Manx sheep
breed has almost gone extinct three times.
Did you know that the Apollo space suits would not have existed without lycra and that seamstresses who sewed women’s girdles were recruited to do the construction because of their expertise
in sewing lycra? There were 27 layers of fabric in each suit, and straight pins were rationed.
Why? Imagine what would have happened if a stray pin left inside a suit made it into space
We have all seen Rose Young’s entry in the Coral Reef exhibit. One podcast tells the
background for the original Crochet Coral Reef designed by two mathematicians using a
specific configuration of their crochet techniques to make the coral. So many of the podcasts
have brought home stories that are present now in our small Southwest Florida world of fiber.
“You can access Fiber Nation where you get your podcasts” — that is what you will hear when
encouraged to listen to a specific one. But for many of us podcasts are a foreign animal. Just
give me a radio show. So where do you get a podcast? The best place to start is on your phone or computer with
your podcast app. Yes, it should be there if you have a fairly up-to-date device. You might
find it under your music app. If not, go to interweave.com and look for podcasts. You will also
find Fiber Nation on Facebook. You won’t be sorry; it’s the best.