These attending the Oct. 13th meeting of the Tin Pedlar of Maine were treated to an engaging presentation by Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, 50 Cove St, Portland, ME 04101, on Cashmere People Yarns.
Casey shared how she became involved in this Cashmere People Yarns, a 4-year development project funded by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). The project’s objective was to create opportunities for rural women in remote areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan for earning income. The project’s aim was to help co-operatives of women in processing local fibers from Cashgora goats into high quality yarns and linking to the global marketplace for sale of the fiber. Cashgora goats are a cross breed between angora goats (mohair) and cashmere producing goats. The Cashgora goats are raised in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The harvested fiber is washed in Afghanistan, dying and handspinning of the yarn is done by the co-operatives of women in Tajikistan. Cashmere People Yarns are produced in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way. The artisans are earning a fair wage and are fully in charge of their business.
Casey shared photos of her March 2017 trip to Tajikistan to meet the groups of women spinning the yarn and learning more about the program first hand. She did not make it to Afghanistan because of weather. She explained how the Tajikistan groups were structured in 2 different parts of the country. How they meet and worked in the group leader’s home until workshops were constructed. How they went from using sheared fibers to hand combed fibers to increase the quality. She provided some history on the strain og goats that provide this incredibly soft high quality fiber. Casey shared her experiences visiting homes and workshops. She shared her experience of the language barrier (English vs Russian), rural travel, and very different culture. Casey shared stories about Skyping with these groups of women as part of their collaboration on marketing their yarn. About how this project has not only provided a source of income for these women, but also an opportunity to gather as women in a social group.
Each skein of Cashmere People Yarn provides a small bio card on the woman that spin that skein. Casey shared how she is also sharing information on how the yarn is being used by US knitters with the co-operatives.
Imagine hearing and seeing how a handspun yarn you were responsible for creating has been knit into a beautiful scarf… By seeing the individual who did the knitting and wears the finished item…
Visit the Cashmere People Yarn site to get a complete picture of the project, journey of the fiber and the women of the co-operatives. You can also shop online for this yarn from both the link on the site or if in the Portland, Maine area visit PortFiber. You can also watch this short documentary to learn more about the history of the area, people, culture and this project.
Casey also shared some of the other fiber art pieces she purchased during her visit, and the handmade socks she received as gifts during her visit.
We are a group of rug hookers, many of whom do a variety of fiber arts, and it’s always fun to see the work of others.
You can also connect to PortFiber and Cashmere People Yarns on Instagram and Facebook @PortFiber and @cashmerepeopleyarns.