July 14, 2018

Yarn that's Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World

     A Greener World (AGW) has a directory of products that are Certified Animal Welfare Approved, certified by them.  According to their site, "It is the only label in the U.S. to require audited, high-welfare production, transport and slaughter practices."  They put an emphasis on animals being on pasture or range their entire lives.
     The categories in the directory include fibre for handspinning into yarn.  The directory allows you to search by proximity, if local fibre matters to you, or you can search the entire thing.  The listings I saw only referred to fibre or wool, they didn't specify forms such as yarn or roving.  I believe only one offered online shopping.  It sells yarn.  The rest provided a physical address.  Presumably you could write to to inquire about mail order, though you're probably meant to go to their farm gate to shop.
     If you know of a fibre farmer whose work meets the criteria, and who isn't certified and in the directory already, you can suggest her name to AGW here.  AGW also has other categories of vendors, such as farmers' markets.
     AGW's standards for sheep are here.  Mulesing is prohibited, and "The primary methods of preventing parasite infestations must be pasture management or rotation and bedding management and removal."  The standards prohibit tail docking, dehorning, disbudding, and ear marking by cutting or notching.  They prohibit any trap but a live trap for predators, with lethal control of predators as a last resort.  They prohibit the use of hot prods or electric shocks.  (I don't think this applies to electric fences.)
     I think the standards mean a flock of wethers is out: "Ram lambs may only be castrated when uncontrolled breeding cannot be prevented by any other management."  From what I've heard, ram lambs are often sent to slaughter while ewe lambs are kept for breeding.  I've also heard that traditionally wethers' wool was considered prized, as the wool is less pungent than rams' wool and in better condition than ewes' wool.  Ewes go through stress from lambing and their wool shows the results of that stress.  The one exception to the traditional preference for wethers' wool that I've read about was where ram's wool traditionally was kept for a certain purpose, I can't remember what, for some reason such as durability, but again I can't remember what.  I think that was in a Nordic country and might have been for nalbinding or rya rugs.  Anyway.  Notwithstanding traditional practices regarding wool production, and notwithstanding that a ram might rather be a wether than lunch, I guess AGW considers castration of rams something to be avoided.
     This bit was interesting: "14.0.6 Animals must not be displayed or offered for sale or transfer at farmers markets, swap meets or similar venues.  Note: Delivery or exchange of animals at a farmers market or similar venue when the sale or transfer has been pre-arranged may be acceptable."  Never would have occurred to me that anyone would try to sell a sheep at a farmers' market.  I have heard of people arranging for delivery of fibre animals in odd locations.

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. - Proverbs 12:10 NIV

July 07, 2018

Fibershed Interview on Conscious Chatter Podcast

     Kestrel Jenkin's Conscious Chatter podcast has an interview with Rebecca Burgess, director of Fibershed.  S03, episode 118, "Fibershed + Regenerative Textile Systems," June 12, 2018, http://consciouschatter.com/podcast/2018/06/11/s03-episode-118-fibershed-regenerative-textile-systems.  Available on iTunes.
     Good stories, technical details, and the issues around the making of small batch, traceable, community-based, natural textiles, as always.
     Fibershed serves two groups: producers and buyers.  This podcast is focussed mostly on the production side of local cloth and leaves recommendations for buyers until the last several minutes.  Unless I missed it, Burgess did not cover options such as taking yarn from a farm and either making clothes yourself or commissioning a weaver or knitter to make you clothing with it.  It was more about looking for local ready-to-wear, wearing clothes longer and mending them, and recirculating used clothing.
     This is an interesting choice considering the success Burgess had with the Fibershed wardrobe she commissioned for herself.  In the YouTube video, "150 mile wardrobe: local fiber, real color, P2P economy," she says she never wants to go back to conventional clothes.  I'm not sure why she omitted the option to commission work.  Perhaps she considered the amount of time and money involved to be too much to ask.  She was able to fund the wardrobe through Kickstarter, through her Funding Fibershed - One Year-150 Miles campaign in 2010.
     Burgess is a weaver and natural dyer with a spinning wheel.  In the YouTube interview she says she commissioned the Fibershed wardrobe because she didn't have the time to make it herself, which is understandable.  Furthermore, she wanted the wardrobe made in order to build relationships with the ranchers, cotton breeders, felters, knitters, and mills in her region.

June 30, 2018

My Taste in Yarn

     I had this on my profile on Ravelry, but got to thinking it was a bit long.  So I copied it here and trimmed what I have on Ravelry.

     I'm Canadian, from Vancouver Island, B.C. and since I'm far from home and expect I'll eventually move back, I'm trying to keep the amount of equipment and fibre I collect to a minimum.  What, did you just laugh?
     I also try to limit my WIPs, and focus on finishing.  
     I am a handspinner first, other crafts come second.  I use drop spindles to spin yarn, not a spinning wheel.  I have rarely bought yarn for knitting but that is starting to change.  I like to weave with handspun wool or commercial linen yarn.  I can do an obscure technique with yarn called språng (braiding on stretched threads).  I adore the process, the product, and the research aspect.  Many of the YouTube videos I've posted are about how to do språng.
     I like to choose breed-specific wool and make the yarn's structure suit the project.  The look of lustrous long-staple wool appeals to me most.  It's too bad longwools are often scratchy and hard to find or expensive in yarn form.  I try to buy breed-specific wool or yarn that is traceable to a region or flock.  My exception (and my favourite breed) is Blueface Leicester wool, which is usually imported in bulk. 
     I really love linen cloth, whether woven or knitted.  I would wear linen everything if I could.  I am not sure I will ever get around to learning how to spin flax.  Not keen on cotton, silk, or short stapled fibres like cashmere or merino.  I use a bit of hemp yarn for dish cloths.  
     I admire Kathryn Alexander's use of energized singles in woven cloth.
     I like knitting stockinette in the round on double points, and I like the way stockinette looks.  I dislike the look of garter stitch.  I think embossed exchange patterns are very pretty, such as in Svetlana Volkova's Anemone for example.  I like to follow patterns I can memorize and do without much concentration, whether knitting, weaving, or doing språng.  
     I care more for texture and structure than I care for colour.  I do like colour.  I like royal blue, electric blue, ice blue, fuchsia, scarlet, hot pink, emerald, lemon yellow, dark grey, pure white, burgundy, teal, clear turquoise, British racing green, and sapphire.  
     I consider myself to be on a synthetic dye diet.  I wear as much un-dyed or naturally-dyed clothing as I can and I work primarily with un-dyed or naturally-dyed yarn.  I make exceptions for gift items.  I've stocked up on naturally-coloured wool to spin and yarn to knit, and I've increased my plant-based dyeing skills and knowledge.  
     I admire Rebecca Burgess' original fibreshed project.  For a year Burgess wore only clothes made of undyed, naturally-coloured, and naturally-dyed fibres from her area.  All the labour came from her area too.  The criteria for fibreshed (and the tagline of her Fibershed organization and its affiliates) is local fibre, local dyes, local labour.  Here is an interview about Burgess' original wardrobe project:

     I love the guilds and group I belong to.  I joined my handspinning guild near the end of 2008 and they got me from the ground up.  The members taught me how to spin, knit, dye, and shop for supplies and tools.  They fed me how-to books and videos.  I took weaving classes from one of the members.  My Ravelry projects page has some embarrassingly basic and lumpy stuff, the yarn equivalent of baby pictures.  Språng I learned by myself from books.  
     I inform, advise, and encourage people as they begin to use drop spindles.  At festivals and guild meetings, friends send aspirants my way.  It's great!  I enjoy giving people useful information about handspinning and språng.

June 23, 2018

Teal & Co. English hand wool combs

I was pleased the other day to have been in the same room as a set of four pitch English hand wool combs made by Teal & Co.  Never really took to combing wool myself, but I consider Peter Teal's book, Hand Woolcombing and Spinning, to be a great read.

Teal & Co. English hand wool combs

Speaking of wool combing, let me also show you the fancy diz I made with copper and jade:

copper and jade diz for wool combs

June 16, 2018

Linen Handkerchiefs and Entropy

handsewn linen handkerchiefs
The linen handkerchiefs, the ones I sewed six years ago, are just starting to get holes in them.  That's good, especially considering how thin the material is.  I think it was Fabrics-Store.com's 2.8 oz linen fabric which they describe as sheer.

One hankie hitched a ride in a t-shirt I was taking to a dye workshop, so it went into the indigo vat.  So very pretty and yet so very wrong.  Handkerchiefs should be white.

June 09, 2018

Tweeting a Bit

     Happy world wide knit in public day!
     I've been tweeting a bit, at www.twitter.com/RosetwistLLC.  I learned to use TweetDeck, which is part of Twitter, to schedule tweets ahead of time.  Useful.
     Besides product update tweets for my company, I'm tweeting about running a knitter business.  It's sort of like what I do here, writing about what I do and learn.
     I don't know if you've read my blog posts from the beginning but the small business economy, crossed with the fibre arts, has been an interest of mine.  And service design.  Even when I was just a customer.  Maybe it also interests you?
     If I've inserted the HTML properly and you're not using something like Ghostery to block content, you should be able to see a preview of my recent tweets here.

    You can now see a gallery view of the things I've made with handspinning, knitting, handweaving, tablet weaving, natural dyeing, and språng, on this new blog page: http://thesojourningspinner.blogspot.com/p/portfolio.html.
     I am pleased to tell you that just over 5 000 people have subscribed to my YouTube channel, which is mostly about how to do språng (braiding on stretched threads).
     Thank you for your interest.  I hope you're getting enjoyment out of seeing my work here and around the web.

June 02, 2018

LinkedIn buy and sell group for Indie Fiber Artists and Those Who Love Them

     I have started a LinkedIn group for indie fiber artists and those who love them.  You can find it here, https://lnkd.in/dTdrQcf.  
     It is meant to act like a classifieds, with postings of "for sale," "in search of," and "free offer."  
     I know the fiber arts community doesn't use LinkedIn that much.  And it's a bit of a bother, signing up for another site or downloading another app.  I only signed up years ago because a family member strongly urged me to be there.  
     I chose LinkedIn because the platform functions well and it's meant for business.  Compared to Facebook which is meant for cat photos.  (Nothing against cat photos.)  Or Ravelry which is meant for knitting project management, knitting pattern sales, and knitting discussions.  (Nothing against knitting.)  On LinkedIn you can easily see who someone is, how to contact them, and what they offer generally for goods and services to the public.  You know they're open for business.  And the group page lets you discuss what's going on in the field.  
     These are the guidelines for the group:
To participate you as an individual must offer to the public your own work which is traceable domestic (U.S.) in-house fiber (wool, cotton, linen, hemp, etc.), plant-based dyes, fiber arts services (milling, knitting, weaving), fiber arts instruction (books, classes, blog posts), fiber arts tools, fiber arts research and development, or fiber arts themed fine arts (original drawings, paintings). 
Or be a buyer of the same. 
Or be a professional (in the U.S.) who offers to the public products and services that fiber arts micro businesses really need (graphic design, vendor spots at wool festivals, artist residencies, etc.). 
     It comes out of my personal experiences as a buyer in search of traceable, undyed or naturally dyed clothing.  That's been a somewhat fruitless quest so far and I'd like to make it easier for people like me who want a wardrobe of artisanal clothing without having to throw a few thousand dollars a year at the problem.  Or who at least want to know if that's what it truly takes.  Cloth with a story, terroir.  Stunningly beautiful cloth, eco-friendly and humanely raised.  I'd say local cloth is where local food was twenty years ago and the movement needs help to reach a tipping point.  
     It comes from my experiences as a handspinner of wool yarn, wanting to buy obscure products like dried Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) which is a moth repellant.  I don't want to grow it.  I want to pay someone to do that, and order by clicking a button.  This is just an a example of the niche needs fibre artists have, and we are willing to pay good money to have them met.  Handspinners get up to a lot of stuff, growing indigo, raiding mulberry trees to feed silk worms, spreading the good word about wool.  We buy many goods and services, and not many businesses cater to us.  We rely on the secondhand market, each other, and our friends and family for some needs, like help with social media and advice on fibre arts techniques, and that doesn't always do the job.  (It's still pretty good, though.)  I never did hear how it went with all the fiber flax seeds I gave away to friends for their private research, and I really wanted to know.  
     It comes from some comments friends and strangers have given me lately, how much they value the attention, encouragement, and information I've given them regarding their work.  
     And it comes out of my experiences as a micro business owner selling sterling silver yarn-themed jewellery.  I buy products and services and education for DIY solutions in order to do my production and marketing.  I am doing okay on production since I'm able to make and source what I want to, mostly, and I'm ahead of customer demand.  Maybe I'm ahead of demand because I'm making things people don't actually want to buy?  Notice I didn't say need to buy.  The fibre arts are not about need, they are about desire.  Anyway.  I choose to think my need is to get found in order to get sales.  Advice is welcome!  I am not alone in that need, I've observed.  
     I think we need to get found and find each other better than we are doing.  
     Will you consider joining me on LinkedIn?  And talk about this topic with others wherever you are?  Thanks.  
     I know LinkedIn is probably a long shot.  Our demographic is on Facebook and Ravelry.  But again, the platform is for business.  Plus, Facebook and Ravelry are Balkanized, with a group here and a group there dedicated to one seller and that sort of thing.  Ravelry is good about showing you all posts but Facebook's newsfeed is not.  

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.
Proverbs 22:29 NIV

May 28, 2018

Video Interviews about Guild Membership and Handspinning Flax

Every so often I record a fibre arts conversation with someone and post it on YouTube.  (I'm not all språng how-to videos!)

Here is Cindy, talking about her homegrown clothing, the wheel she was given, and how to spin flax into yarn.

Here is Monica talking about the benefits she has gotten from membership in her local handspinners guild.

May 23, 2018

Excited for PNW Fibershed's System Map

     Well, this is exciting!  Pacific Northwest Fibershed now has a map of producers of local fibre, local dyes, and local labour at www.bit.ly/Fibershed-crowdmap.  It's called Mapping the Domestic Fiber System, and it's on Google.  It's done in partnership with Ecotrust.
     While Pacific Northwest Fibershed is primarily concerned with producers in its own region, it appears that the map is meant to cover the whole United States.  At least, there are entries from other places.
     Appears that to qualify for a producer listing, you don't need to fall into an official Fibershed affiliate area or need membership in an affiliate.  This is a boon to regions like mine which are only partially covered and lack a producer program.  But, as they say on Air Farce, I'm not bitter.
     Do you produce Fibershed goods or services?  The map is crowd-sourced, so you can add your listing.
     Do you buy local fibre, local dyes, local milling and spinning services, local patterns, local tools, local knitting, weaving, dyeing, or design services, local seeds for dyes or fibre, local fibre arts books, or local fibre arts instruction?  Please give the link to your sources and urge them to add a listing.
     I am still trying to clothe myself with pieces made with natural fibre, plant-based dyes (or naturally-coloured fibre), and fair labour in order to make my life more eco-friendly, beautiful, comfortable, and interesting.  Traceable local materials or labour are a bonus.  So if you're on the map, I might buy from you.  My stack of real indigo J.Crew tees are getting a little faded and shabby.
     And there are 14 000 Ravelry users who give their location as within 100 miles of Richmond, Virginia who probably want to buy good stuff too.

May 19, 2018

Somebody Set Up Fibershed Virginia, Please

     I've been talking to shepherds who raise fibre and small business owners who serve fibre artists, and I think there is a need in Virginia for a non-profit or a business to help connect sellers and buyers, and support both.  Have a look at Fibershed's Producer Program and their publicity work and education events.  I wish someone would set up an affiliate Fibershed here.  There is a Fibershed affiliate that covers part of Virginia but I've heard it does not have a producer program, only an education program.
     I think there is consumer demand for textile products that are exceptionally beautiful and functional, raised humanely, produced and delivered in an environmentally-friendly way, presented so that the customer can connect emotionally with the producer, and sold in a way that makes it easy for the customer to buy and use the product.  It probably means e-commerce and in-person sales at public markets.
     Additionally, the products and services should let people be themselves but more so, in an area they deem important to them personally.  I've seen wool let people be generous, be connected with peers, be connected with charismatic stars, show love to family, show their fandom or taste or profession, be a nature lover, be a mentor, be a planner, be a collector, be a savvy shopper, be thrifty, be extravagant or self-indulgent, be a patron, be interesting, and (of course) be a maker.  And in some cases, whatever their thing was, that was their life.  Honestly.  Marry that with a product of remarkable beauty from a seller they know, like, and trust, and (in my experience as a seller) people quit caring about the price tag and just buy.
     E-commerce can be tough for producers to arrange.  In my shopping experience, shepherds and mills are open for business but often it is difficult to see and buy their current stock of goods and services.  Right now as a customer you have to be in the know and making a real effort.  Producers will put up a static webpage (often outdated, saying things like "we're really excited about the sheep shearer coming in Spring 2014!") and expect customers to phone them and inquire.  It's like asking people to click.  Chances are they won't.  Or they are focussed on selling breeding stock or milling services, and missing the person who wants to buy yarn or a fleece.  Also, most fiber websites have poor graphic design.  In contrast, the Fibershed website is gorgeous.  Fibre buyers are highly attuned to colour and design.
     Markets are hard.  Like, farmers' markets and festivals.  I've lost sleep before vending at a market.  I've driven over four hours roundtrip to be a vendor.  I've been asked to be a vendor at a festival so far away that I couldn't make the opening time without a hotel stay, so I had to pass.  I've endured cold rainy weather vending in a popup tent outdoors.  I've had trouble securing someone to help me set up and to watch the merchandise while I take a bathroom break.  The tent and the merchant fee can be costly.  But there's nothing like being Johnny-on-the-spot for sales.
     Production challenges are an issue that the Northern California Fibershed supports.  I don't know if that is so much of a need in Virginia in the sense of wool going to waste because no one is there to mill it like in Northern California.  Money is leaving the region: I know two or three Virginia-based yarn merchants who send their wool out of state for milling, and I know of another yarn merchant that does its own milling but sends materials out of state for washing.  I once heard from a shepherd who was having trouble finding breeding stock for a rare breed.
     Customer education is needed.  I believe there are buyers out there willing to pay for beautiful textiles they can feel good about, who have no clue what to ask for, how to ask, where to ask, or how much to pay.  Or even that these things exist.  In my experience demonstrating handspinning in public, they have the most basic of questions.  Ten years ago I was like them myself.  A middleman could help.  In the Northern California Fibershed, they've been able to connect some pretty big corporate clients with producers.
     There is also an appetite for education from sophisticated buyers and from producers.  I know handspinners and weavers that travel out of state to hear speakers and take workshops, and they buy books and DVDs.  Rita Buchanan (A Weaver's Garden) is the only fibre arts author I know that wrote in Virginia.  Oh, and Max Hamrick (Organic Fiber Dyeing: The Colonial Williamsburg Method).  Equipment and materials too, the majority of the stuff used by the dozens of handspinners, weavers, dyers, and knitters I know comes from out of state.  And I see a lot of money being spent, these people have disposable income and time.  I can think of one nationally-known manufacturer of equipment in Virginia, Strauch Fiber Equipment Co.
     The director of such a non-profit or business, as I propose, would need to know about business, and consult, publicize, hold events, apply for grants, and conduct research.  Or manage a team that does.
     Before you ask, that person is not me.  My joy is systems thinking and giving people useful information: I'd do that for free.  You couldn't pay me to be in charge of other people's actions.  Or liaise for a living.
     Some of the functions of such an organization are covered in our region by local guilds, fibre festivals, and breed-specific sheep breeder associations and the Virginia Sheep Producers Association.  Other resources include
     I've learned from the SBDC, bought from Local Harvest, bought and sold on Etsy, learned from the Etsy Success podcast and Seller Handbook, learned from the SBA and IRS, and advertised on Ravelry.  I'm waiting to hear back from SCORE.
     What actions can you take, assuming you agree but you're not going to set up Fibershed Virginia yourself?  Write to VDACS to tell them about the Fibershed model, say you think there is an underserved market in Virginia, and tell them specific stories of why this is true.  Tell them why it's important, relating this to their mandates for conservation, economic development, etc.
     Wear beautiful traceable textiles in your daily life, and be prepared to do show and tell and make referrals to your sources.  Throw some work their way.  Distribute brochures for fibre festivals.  Spin yarn, knit, or weave in public.
     Talk to young people about the possibility of finding work in the fibre arts, and about the small scale production equipment available such as mechanized carding machines, e-spinners, knitting machines, floor looms, and mini mills from a company like Belfast Mini Mills.  Consider a Kickstarter campaign to buy a young person equipment and training to set them up in business.  Connect young people who need work experience with fibre small businesses who need services like graphic design, web design, photography, marketing, and social media tutorials.
     Send shepherds encouraging notes, maybe with photographs of them at events that they can use for publicity, and ask them how it's going.  Tell personal fibre stories on social media.  Help a guild or an arts centre apply for a grant.  Refurbish old wheels and looms to keep them in service.  Run a seminar or workshop for the public to show them the possibilities of fibre arts.  Develop and publish educational materials like handouts or booklets.  Pray (or whatever you do instead of praying) for take-charge people to get involved and carry through.  I'm sure you'll think of something.  Thanks.
     I plan to start by writing to VDACS, and then order some cloth reusable shopping bags to dye with indigo, walnut, and madder, to use as a conversation starter when I shop.  I plan to demonstrate handspinning at a farmers' market next weekend, knit in public for WWKIP day the week after, and demonstrate either handspinning or språng at a museum the week after that.  I also plan to read Light: Science & Magic, an introduction to photographic lighting by Hunter, Biver, and Fuqua with hopes of fixing the white balance on my online listings.
     And you?

May 12, 2018

Till the Dye Runs Clear

     Once there was a handspinner who went to an indigo dye workshop, and came home and applied what she learned to some wool.  But the indigo rubbed off on skin and spindle.
     You don't want indigo to be rubbing off on your skin and turning your hands blue.
     Off into the reference book and cyberspace went the handspinner in search of a solution.  Into some very hot water and Synthrapol went the rest of the wool.  Many, many basins of wash water later, the handspinner resolved not to dye any more wool with indigo.  Even though the colour was so very, very beautiful, it just wasn't working out.  When the roving dried out, it was so felted, it could not be spun.  Again, not good.
     Now, linen or cotton cloth, I would still dye that with indigo because it can go in the washing machine with Synthrapol.  It is possible to take wool fabric, full it, dye it, and full it again in the washer, but the amount of washing I went through would probably push the fabric past the useable point.
     I recently interviewed a few shepherds and posted the videos on YouTube.  In one interview near the end, Kim Harrison talks about fulling her handwoven fabric from her flock.

     Dyers accept that some natural dyes are not colourfast, but almost everyone else in the Western World expects all dyes should be colourfast, whether natural and synthetic.
     You may be wondering why I got blindsided by that much crocking.  The answer is, the original rinse water was pretty clear.  However, that was washing with regular dish soap and that wasn't good enough.  I just didn't know.
     I've read in a couple of places that indigo crocking is a result of improper dyeing.  I followed the recipe properly.  I have also followed the recipe for a fructose vat and hardly got any colour.  Perhaps I need new fructose.  That problem, as the French say, is another pair of sleeves.  Indigo has that variable ratio reinforcement thing going, it keeps you engaged.

May 05, 2018

Areas where I try to be Eco-friendly

     I try to be eco-friendly, including in fibre arts.
     Recently I commented on an article online, a comment about how I try to be eco-friendly with my company, and I've copied the gist of my comment below.  Eco-friendliness is not the The Goal (and I recommend that book for anyone who produces anything), but it is a subordinate goal for my shop.
     I pack sprang loom kits with eco-friendly packing peanuts, and I let the customer know she can take the peanuts into any shipping store for reuse.  For small boxes I've been using plastic bubble wrap that has been used once already but I plan to go back to Caremail Greenwrap, which is paper that is specially cut to act like bubblewrap.  It looks more green and customers can recycle it.  I'll give the plastic stuff to a friend who also ships her work.
     I source most of my wooden fibre arts tools like looms and shuttles from big leaf maples* on Vancouver Island, Canada so I know that wood is not poached or endangered.  I use a non-toxic linseed varnish.  The indigo-dyed (naturally-dyed) t-shirt I sell is organic, so made with less pollution.  The wall hanging I sell is un-dyed, naturally green cotton, so it is bio-diverse and gives less pollution.  The natural dye kit materials are sourced from Maiwa in Vancouver, a company with good ethics.  I sell to handspinners a wool "tasting" kit of different sheep breeds' wool, which promotes biodiversity and preservation of endangered breeds.
     Some of the rose beads I sell are made from organic rose petals.  I use Rio Grande's recycled cardboard jewellery boxes, and I send them my silver scraps from lost wax casting for reuse.  A small portion of the silver I use is Argentium which is definitely recycled, and my metal instructors tell me the rest of Rio's silver is probably recycled.  Rio sells a machine to etch copper and silver using electricity and a chemical instead of a harsh chemical etching solution.  I was looking at it, but the safety data sheet's waste disposal instructions for the chemical are still pretty serious.
     I've re-used elastic bands from my cardboard takeout containers to tie-dye linen fabric for a product in development.  Linen is made from flax plants and has less pollution than cotton.  I plan to see if the local health food store will save their disposable gloves for me to wear while dyeing.  I buy from them water for dyeing that is filtered from municipal water and packaged in reusable jugs so less waste, and less pollution because the water isn't shipped in.
     Our power company lets you pay a surcharge to support renewably-generated electricity, and I do that.
     Water pollution, landfill, deforestation, and species extinction seem like such a shame to me.  A waste.  And not especially safe for people.
     If I was really pure, I would collect water for dyeing in a rain barrel and bicycle my way to the post office with orders, but I'm not.
     Fibershed, which is one of the influences on my work, has changed over the years to put more emphasis on pollution reduction, specifically carbon sequestration through grazing of sheep.**  I am still stuck on the natural dyes part which was more Fibershed's earlier message.  And it's not even the environment impact of dyes*** that gets me, though I appreciate that aspect.  Natural dyes give such a beautiful result.  And I think they are, as founder Burgess claims, healthier to wear than synthetic dyes.  Can't prove it.  But I think so.
     In my private work with the fibre arts, I don't know if there's much more that I do besides what I've already mentioned.  I suppose I consciously limit how much I buy, no S.A.B.L.E. for me.  I try to buy North American products.  I try to buy used equipment.  The only dye made from wood that I would ever use would be osage orange because the trees are considered too abundant in nature.  I've dyed with local black walnut hulls which are a waste product here in Virginia.  I rarely use silk but that's more out of concern for the working conditions in silk factories than anything environmental.  One day I'd like to get some secondhand silk clothing and dye it.  However, I have other things to get through before that.  I'm not used to having this long a to-do list, really.
     In other news around here, the språng demonstration went well last week.  The pillow I stuffed with shredded natural latex worked out well and only took 2.5 pounds of fill.  The indigo-dyed cotton pillow slip looks excellent.  I got more linen in my life by buying a stack of imperfectly-printed tea towels from a local artist's store, Pat Cully Illustrations.
     Update: health regulations prevent the store from saving disposable gloves for me.

*big leaf maple trees, or broadleaf maples, are interesting in that they have leaves the size of dinner plates.  They are pretty common on the Island.

**Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms had a great quote in a recent newsletter about the benefit of grazing animals: "making our soil great again."  I'd like to put that on a t-shirt.  I have a photo of a grazing ram to go with it.

***it's not just about water pollution, there's the possibility of taking invasive plant species and using them for dye.  Which I've done, with Scotch broom.

April 28, 2018

The Princess and the Pea, Right Here

     If you ever get the urge to stuff a pillow with 8 pounds of organic buckwheat hulls, don't.  Well, you might, but I found the result too firm.  Plus it's noisy when you move it.  If anyone has any suggestions for using the buckwheat hulls for something else, please let me know.
     I am going to try again with 4.5 pounds of organic natural shredded latex rubber, stuffing a pillow protector and a pillow slip that I threw into one of the indigo vats I ran this week.  I did a colour remover vat and a Spectralite vat following Jenny Dean's directions for the hydrosulfite indigo vat.  The Spectralite vat gave less colour.
     Will be demonstrating språng today at a local fibre festival.
     The handspinning demonstration, at a local museum last week, went well.  I used my spindle and gave away a lot of 8 inch-ish pieces of handspun wool yarn, mostly to children.

     Update: the latex pillow worked out very well.  It only took about 2.5 pounds of shredded latex.

April 21, 2018

Jacquard SolarFast Dye Fail

Jacquard SolarFast Dye on a tote bag
     I think I can fix the problems with this tote bag I dyed with Jacquard SolarFast dye.  The dye bled and it is too dark.  The image looks like it is positioned too low when the bag is full, even though the image is centred.  There is blue discolouration: it should be solid black but instead the dye is breaking apart in spots.  It was a warm day and there was some condensation under the glass and negative.  According to the manufacturer's FAQs (helpfully sent to me by the supplier Dharma Trading Co.), the discolouration is probably due to too much dye.
     It's pretty cool even with its faults.
     The sheep in the picture are local Gulf Coast Native sheep, and the picture is from an original photo I took.
     The bag is stuffed with some inexpensive drop spindles I made, and some wool, for a handspinning demonstration I'm going to today.