TRIAL AND ERROR
After receiving an master’s of fine arts from Rutgers, Yerby drifted from photography into the world of textiles. With the exception of a spinning class at Brooklyn General Store, Yerby is largely self-taught. She regularly refers to the book Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess and is inspired by local projects like Laura Sansone’s Mobile Textile Lab. She relies on experimentation to arrive at her final results. “I have to stay random,” she tells Ecouterre. “If I follow guidelines I mess things up.”
“I have to stay random,” she tells Ecouterre. “If I follow guidelines I mess things up.”
Thus far, her experiments have gradually evolved and widened her practice. She began by spinning wool, then adding recycled silk-sari scraps to create skeins of colorful, textured yarn. Her concern for the environment and sense of social responsibility drive her to use mostly plant-based dyes and local fleece.
After attending the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival for the past three years, Yerby played the role of exhibitor in October, complete with a table that featured finished goods, processed roving, and skeins of yarn, all of which sold with remarkable success.
The event is also a great way to meet with farmers, as well as their four-legged charges. It was a connection she made at the festival, in fact, who directed her to Beehive Farm in Woodstock, NY, which now provides her with raw fleece. Yerby washes, cards, and spins the wool to create organic forms that not only honor the natural environment but also lay bare the supply chain that preceded them.
Yerby washes, cards, and spins the wool to create organic forms that honor the natural environment.
Although the work is time-consuming, Yerby insists on doing it on her own. (She finds it relaxing.) She does occasionally call upon her mother, who shreds recycled fabric scraps so they can be incorporated into Yerby’s work. Her do-it-yourself mentality extends even to the plants she and her husband care for on her rooftop. They produce everything from the fertile soil derived from their compost to the plants that sporadically sprout amongst the scraps.
Yerby loves finding creative ways to reuse what others might consider trash. “There’s tons of stuff you can recycle out there,” she says. “You just have to find it.” In her role as both designer and producer, Yerby has found a way to transform traditional techniques and eco-friendly materials into modern looks.