In farming years, five years can be a flash in the pan. But Courtney LaCaria, who started working her homestead with her husband five years ago, already has a flock of chickens, a waddle of ducks, and 13 alpaca (with four more on the way). Meanwhile, the couple are renovating their farmhouse, which is more than 100 years old.
Naturally, there’s an organic symbiosis at play down on the farm. The chickens and ducks produce manure to fertilize LaCaria’s vegetable garden as they eat copious amounts of insects that might otherwise harm both humans and livestock. The alpaca herd protects its feathered friends from predators, while providing LaCaria, whose passion is weaving, with fleece for yarn. When her fiber art is ready, her woodworker husband constructs the frames using material sourced from their 19th-century farmhouse.
Round and round it goes, in a circle like a spinning wheel. LaCaria is intent on weaving the tapestry of a more intentional life.
As she explains, “You develop greater awareness of the seasons, and how the seasonal changes affect the animals. You learn the rhythms of nature, and that nature isn’t separate from us. There is a very holistic aspect to making sure that all the pieces work together — and since I’m a weaver, I thought, ‘Why not be part of the whole process of weaving?’” The alpaca fleece must be sheared and cleaned and dried and carded, then spun into yarn to be dyed and woven — all by hand.
LaCaria calls this process “seasonally ordered … and wonderfully slow.” Besides the large and small weavings that are meant to be hung, she makes functional work (mug rugs, meditation/altar mats, dining-room table runners and placemats, bags, and some wearables).
She also serves as administrator for the Asheville-based nonprofit Local Cloth, which is devoted to expanding and supporting WNC’s fiber economy. The organization provides educational programs and advocates for regional farmers, designers, and artists — and hosts special events and classes. LaCaria frequently teaches classes at Local Cloth.
To start each day, LaCaria and her husband do a guided meditation – and she credits that practice with helping manage and heal pain she’s experienced from migraine headaches. She teaches others how to incorporate meditation into their own creative processes, and acknowledges that the physical motion of weaving is itself meditative. “Over and over the rhythm repeats, and I can lose myself in the joy of it and just be.”
Courtney LaCaria,“Form and Function Creative,” formandfunctioncreative.com and on IG and Etsy. The artist is represented by Local Cloth (408 Depot St. in Asheville’s River Arts District, localcloth.org). She will teach “Weaving with Scraps: A Fun and Beautiful Way to Make the Yarn Leftovers Shine” at the venue on Thursday, Sept. 14,11am-6pm (part of Local Cloth’s September Sustainability series); and “Weaving in the Present Moment: An Intro Class to Weaving and its Meditative Magic” on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 11am-6pm. For event details, see the “Workshops” link on the Local Cloth website.