Community Outreach with US Wool, Textiles & Demonstrations

During the last week of the LA County Fair in May, I shared US wool research project activities along with my Apparel Research Assistant and recent Cal Poly Pomona alumni, Katia Quiroz. Katia was in my AMM 4630: Apparel Research project course in Fall 2021. Student projects focused on exploring US sheep and wool farms with a focus on local production, sustainability, and economic development efforts. In the course, students learned how to do research, including reading materials about sustainable fashion, developing a literature review, surveying US sheep and wool famers, developing a database for map visualization, and sourcing wool for further fiber processing and evaluation.

At the LA County Fair, we showcased a poster “Exploring Local Wool & Textile Development in Southern California” that displayed wool research project results and textile samples developed from Navajo Churro wool from Desert Churros Ranch. The physical fiber and textile samples led many visitors to come closer and touch the samples, which provided additional time to share the project and have a short discussion.

We also demonstrated how wool can be used with hand-spinning demonstrations by using drop spindles. Navajo Churro wool was sourced during Fall 2020 from Cunnington Farms in Utah to help support economic development based on a student group’s Midwest-regional focus. The fibers were received in a roving format and it was ready to show for spinning demonstrations. We also showed the yarn plying process with US alpaca and wool fibers.

Overall, the spinning demonstrations were a great way to attract attention to our Apparel booth and engage with families, prospective students, CSU alumni, and general visitors interested in learning more. We reached 503 visitors during our 5 days at the LA County Fair! Visitor were amazed at the process of turning wool fibers into yarn and many kids also gave it a try! In addition to sharing our wool activities, we also shared information about the Apparel Merchandising & Merchandising department in Cal Poly Pomona’s Huntley College of Agriculture.

This work was supported by a Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program (HSI) Grant no. 2020-38422-32253 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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