CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

West County Fiber Arts

Inside the Fibershed Yurt looking out. photo by Kalie Cassel-Feisst

Inside the Fibershed Yurt looking out. Photo by Kalie Cassel-Feiss

West County Fiber Arts is Sonoma County’s newest place to find instruction in fiber arts and meet with kindred spirits.   It all started When Heidi Harris attended the first Fibershed Wool and Fine Fiber Symposium in 2012, having no idea what to expect there.

Something clicked while she was at the Fibershed Symposium: she discovered felt.  That a fabric could be made with hot soapy water, wool and lots of elbow grease was, for her, an Aha! moment.  She was completely out of her comfort zone but intrigued and curious, so she researched and read and attended workshops.  Heidi became an encyclopedia of felting history and a practitioner of felt making.

The Fibershed Yurt at West County Fiber Arts . photo by Kalie Cassel-Feiss

The Fibershed Yurt at West County Fiber Arts . Photo by Kalie Cassel-Feiss

Soon Heidi was suggesting a felt-related workshop for Fibershed to sponsor, and to make that workshop a reality she joined forces with Dustin Kahn, who was on the Fibershed staff at the time.  Heidi’s idea for the workshop was to build a yurt — a structure used by Mongolian nomads and made with large pieces of felt attached to a wooden frame — which would help represent Fibershed and the community it fosters . Heidi, along with fiber artists Katharine Jolda and Amber Bieg, led a workshop sponsored by Fibershed to make the large pieces of felt needed for the yurt walls.  The wooden framework was built in a subsequent workshop, and the roof panels were felted by volunteers that Heidi directed.

The Fibershed Yurt has become a literal and figurative symbol that showcases what can be done with locally source fibers, imagination and the sharing of ideas and labor.

Heidi and Dustin worked well together, so when Heidi began to envision a fiber arts school at her Sebastopol home in 2016, she contacted Dustin to partner with her. Heidi has a background in business and organizational skills, and has spent her adult life managing businesses and working as an efficiency consultant for small companies. She is motivated by having processes and procedures that are repeatable. Dustin’s strength is in her graphic design and marketing skills, plus her knowledge and experience with the fiber community. Her passion is discovering the colors that lay within mushrooms and foraged and domestic plants for natural dyes. Together they founded the West County Fiber Arts School.

 Econ printing Photo by Monique Risch-Meade

Econ printing. Photo by Monique Risch-Meade

needle felting photo by Dustin Kahn

Needle felting.  Photo by Dustin Kahn

Felted hats. Photo by Patricia Briceno

Felted hats. Photo by Patricia Briceno





For information on upcoming classes, visit to peruse the class schedule.

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