Visitors to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival at the Rhinebeck Fairgrounds in October found the usual glorious array of knitted, crocheted, and woven garments — and one unique and quite unwearable scarf. The World’s Longest Natural Fiber Scarf — which measured a thousand feet and counting at press time — was created in a multitude of colors and styles by knitters, crocheters, and weavers across the country, who contributed sections in yarns spun from sheep, alpacas, llamas, buffalo, angora rabbits — and even the fur of a collie.
Linda Cortright, editor of Wild Fibers magazine (and an enthusiastic cashmere goat farmer), established the nonprofit organization Keep the Fleece to launch the effort in honor of the United Nation’s International Year of Natural Fibers. The idea was to promote the superior qualities of natural yarns over synthetics, and to raise money for Heifer International. Throughout the year, knitters enlisted sponsors at one dollar a row, and donated over $25,000 to Heifer, which will use the funds to provide sheep, llamas, and other farm animals to impoverished families around the world.
“Our goal was to have a scarf long enough to wrap around the White House,” says Cortright, who notes that she’ll probably have to make do with wrapping it around the fence. She’s not yet sure of the scarf’s future, although it may be displayed in the United Nation’s exhibit space. “We want it to have another life,” she says.
Meanwhile, if you’re stumped for a gift for someone who seems to have everything, a donation to Heifer in the giftee’s name — perhaps along with a natural fiber scarf — would help a family that has very little. Check www.keepthefleece.org or www.heifer.org for more info.