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The Loom Shed Sustainable Fibre Symposium 2023

October 7 @ 10:30 am - 2:30 pm BST


This October, we are delighted to launch our first online Sustainable Fibre Symposium. Our aim is to focus on people working with natural fibres, returning skills to processing fibre crafts, or rethinking agriculture or horticulture to put the planet and people at the centre of their practice.

This year, we’ve chosen to focus on Flax and Bast fibres, as there are many exciting projects rejuvenating this fibre.

Brigitte from BeeKay Makes and Rosie Bristow from Fantasy Fibre Mill will be our first speakers of the day. Together, they will discuss their work with Flax and Nettles. This online conversation promises to be informative and inspiring. Both Brigitte and Rosie are both knowledgeable and passionate about flax, enabling others to use, grow and process the fibre.

Their presentation will show you how, with little more than a packet of seeds and a drop spindle, you can grow and produce your own linen yarns. From this, they will demonstrate the use of traditional cottage industry tools and how they aim to upscale artisan types of production. In the UK, we have lost our flax processing and spinning plants. Rosie and Brigitte will discuss the development of flax producing facilities to a larger scale and the challenges involved.

Our second speakers are Flaxland. Simon and Ann Cooper have been growing and processing flax since 2008. They also run educational workshops to help others, not only grow a healthy crop, but also share their knowledge about processing and spinning the fibre into beautiful yarn. Simon and Ann feel that flax growing in the UK is now a reality, both as an artisan process from seed to cloth and industrially in terms of growing and some fibre blended fabrics. In their own words:

“Flax is an amazing crop with great potential in the quest to solve environmental and supply issues of the 21st century. The fibres from its stem can be made into the finest of laces, to the strongest of ropes, and every type of textile in between. Our ancestors recognised the therapeutic value of flax seeds and oils in nutrition. Today, flax/linseed oil has many household and industrial uses. The second great thing about flax is that it is a plant that anyone with access to a bit of land or even a window box can grow, or, for those who don’t think they have green fingers, obtain fibres from other growers and processors to spin, weave and use.”

Join us for these online talks and be part of the discussion of the future of flax in the UK.

More about our speakers this year

Brigitte from BeeKay Makes is a textile designer maker, specialising in sustainable woven textiles made from local materials like nettle, linen, and wool yarn. Her interest in teaching is twofold: while preserving heritage skills like fibre processing, spinning and weaving, it also informs her exploration of how we as textile consumers can reconnect to textiles again. For example, her nettle workshops teach skills and techniques of making textiles from foraging to fibre with very simple tools, making such skills accessible, inclusive, and fun to learn. Besides working with nettles, Brigitte has grown her own flax for several years and delivered talks on flax as a local sustainable fibre plant. Additionally, she has supported various UK-based flax growing projects, including the “HomegrownHomespun” project in 2021, a regenerative fashion project in collaboration of Patrick Grant & North-West England Fibreshed, the #WomanGrowsJeans in 2022 by Justine Aldersey-Williams from North-West England Fibreshed, and this year co-founded LetsGrowFlax, a communal flax growing initiative in Surrey. The LetsGrowFlax project has harvested their crops and looks forward to collaborating with Rosie Bristow and her recently founded micro mill “Fantasy Fibre Mill” to produce ‘hyperlocal’ linen yarn. LetsGrowFlax is part of a growing movement to bring flax back to the UK as a fibre source. It demonstrates that everybody can play their part in a sustainable and positive textile future.

Rosie Bristow is a flax enthusiast, farmer, spinner and researcher. After completing her MSc Fashion & Textiles (Heriot Watt, 2021-22), she founded Fantasy Fibre Mill with designer Nick Evans to fill the missing link between farmers and fashion designers who want to grow and work with natural fibre. They recently received a Transformative Technologies grant from Innovate UK to design and build prototype flax processing machines, and are renovating the steading at Phantassie Farm in East Linton into a flax processing and spinning mill. Currently, they are building four prototype machines, a breaker, a scutcher/heckler, a drafter and a spinning machine, which will take the flax from a raw plant into a finished yarn. Fantasy Fibre Mill is working closely with mechanical engineering students at Heriot-Watt uni, and studio HILO in Berlin to design these open source machines. Rosie is passionate about sharing her skills and knowledge, so more people know how to grow and process flax.

Simon and Ann Cooper are from Flaxland, a company that not only grows flax, but also processes, teaches and, like our other speakers in this symposium, are passionate about the reintroduction of flax as a fibre crop in the UK and Ireland. Since 2008, Flaxland has promoted the use of Flax Fibres to re-establish the traditional uses of home grown fibres, helping individual growers and community based projects, as well as universities and industry. Simon and Ann have experience in the growing, agronomy and processing of fibres for spinning into conventional yarns and low twist yarns specifically for composite manufacture. They can spin small batches by hand for research and trial works. This is particularly useful, as there are no flax spinning or processing facilities in the UK. They also assist seed breeders in seed selection for the UK with trial plots, which also include assessing the potential for linseed fibres to be spun into industrial yarns.



The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
The Loom Shed Sustainable Fibre Symposium - Online Day Ticket
£ 32.00
The Loom Shed Sustainable Fibre Symposium - Flaxland
£ 13.50
The Loom Shed Sustainable Fibre Symposium - Brigitte Kaltenbacher and Rosie Bristow
£ 20.00