There are many ways to store fibre, depending on your personal needs and resources; this can be quite a challenge and a lot of fun. Especially if collecting fibre becomes an addiction and trust me this is a very real addiction so watch yourself!
I have tried many different ways and also received fibre from outside sources that has been stored in a way that does and/or doesn’t please me. My first dilemma is plastic packaging; it does keep the fibre free from outside elements but IT’S PLASTIC!!. This being said, it’s very difficult to rival plastic as a storage option so I, at least, need to be responsible with it.
My aim as a human has to be to reduce my plastic use and packaging is something I have had to address. Here are some of my solutions and why they work for me at the moment. I am always subject to change at the drop of inspiration.
Protecting all fibre from pests and moisture damage is very important and keeping it in anything other than plastic or glass just means more diligence.
I treat my fibre like a living being, that needs to breathe and my fleeces in particular are all kept in cloth.
I lay out my dirty fleeces in netting prepared for washing (pictured on the bottom shelf) and after they are clean and dry I store them in clean pillowcases (above) ready for picking. When I collect my fleeces on shearing day they are rolled and placed into *large pillowcases made from old sheets. I take these with me when I go to obtain fleeces which are often just on the ground or on a shed floor. Yes this is a trailor full of wool, my addiction is real.
Completely processed core wool batts are rolled and stored in large transparent tubs ready for use. If the core is to be packaged for sale I have designed my own calico bags. Eliminating the perpetuation of single use plastic and allowing the fibre to breathe in storage.
Naturally if I receive high quality, processed fibre in plastic bags I keep it this way and my favourite way to store them is pegged to an old pantry door. Other bits and pieces of wool can be kept in anything that fits the criteria, which is transparent and airtight. These can be kept in colour codes and a moisture cell will stop them from sweating. This is an easy method if all of the containers are the same so that stacking gives a good visual reference immediately.
When I am regularly using certain fibres, I have them close to my work space, allowing me direct access when making up kits or creating sculptures. These are all kept in their original plastic or put into recycled bags, all in a box that slides in and out easily, but importantly has easy access with out removal.
Your fibre is an investment in future creations and foundational knowledge so it is important to have a relationship with it. I didn’t recognise this until I was able to look back, for this blog, to see what I had learned from my storage challenge. There are loads of ideas out there and what ever you do to solve this, should be flexible and tailored to your immediate needs, doing something is better than doing nothing.
Commit to taking all of your fibre OUT regularly and LISTEN to it. Is it needing a new location, under attack from something or is it screaming at you to make it into something? Even if its only to sniff it because you will gather a lot of information from this one action. Not to mention a lot of pleasure too if you are anything like me.
The final tip I have is to keep records. This aids the replacement and/or rotation of fleeces, using the older ones first. I just have a piece of paper in the pillowcase with the fibres details on it. My details consist of the sheep's name or the person I got it from and the year I obtained it. Most purchased fibre has its details on the packaging, if not put them on, even the return address off the delivery envelope is enough.
So get your stash out and rearrange it often, this keeps your storage options fresh and inspirational and doesn't allow anything to get too comfy. Trust me you will find things you forgot you had and each time it becomes more organised and mapped in your memory. You could find just the colour you were looking for to finish your current piece. If you ever get stuck or lose your mojo just get out your materials, do a clean up and re-shuffle and before you know it, you are wanting to make something with it.
And you know what that means don't you?
Just keep stabbing!
*Large pillowcases; created by one of my wool growers, Dianne Della Vedova in Bridgetown.