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Should I Join a Fiber CSA?

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Before I tell you what a “Fiber CSA” is and before you find out and click off the page, I’m going to ask you to give me 125 words of leeway. That’s not even half a blog post. That’s half of a half of a blog post.

Okay? Here goes:

A Fiber CSA is like a traditional community-supported agriculture operation for fruits and vegetables except instead of produce, it allows members to purchase “shares” of fiber like wool or yarn for use in weaving or…knitting. (Wait! You agreed to 125 words!) You may be thinking of your granny but please consider what you’d do for blankets, socks, hats, gloves, dishcloths and towels if someone wasn’t mass-producing them for you. (Just 55 more words, hang in there). Knitting and weaving are ancient, traditionally male, arts. Lots of men and women in the military learn how to knit as part of their jobs in combat zones or in field training. Many veterans of World Wars learned to knit to create and repair cold-weather survival clothes and blankets.

That’s 125. If I haven’t convinced you, you can go now.

If I have convinced you that fiber craft is essential to survival, a Fiber CSA should be considered as part of your plan. Here’s how it works:

You buy a “share” from a farmer raising “fiber animals” (sheep, goats, rabbits, lamas) then your fiber is provided to you in the form of either yarn or raw (cleaned) fleece. The farmer benefits by having a sure market for their product and you benefit by getting high-quality, low-cost fiber on a reliable basis. You’re not likely to get a giant bag of fiber, so don’t worry. You’ll get a small batch and whatever you don’t use, you can trade or sell. In a long-term supply interruption, fiber will be a currency.

Also, a hidden benefit of fiber CSAs is that they introduce you to small farmers; fiber animals produce other life-sustaining products, so it’s not a bad thing to get to know a farmer!

If you’re interested, start with your local farmer’s market or look online for a CSA near you. For example, LocalHarvest (www.localharvest.org) let’s you search for locally produced products, farms and CSAs.

As for learning how to knit (or crochet), you might have to ask your granny. However, these days you might just have to ask the smart, warm, self-sufficient guy next to you.

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