16 June, 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.

09 June, 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.

02 June, 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

28 May, 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.

23 May, 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.

19 May, 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?

12 May, 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.

05 May, 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.

28 April, 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.

21 April, 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.

14 April, 2018

Building a Fort

     Metalwork still has me in its grip, for fun and for my shop (Rosetwist LLC on Etsy) and I've been doing yarn-y projects for the shop too: a språng loom kit and a språng wall hanging, and spot of indigo dyeing for spindle kits.  Using the good stuff, Blueface Leicester wool.  Since I sell a nålbinding needle, I figured I should have a shop sample of nålbinding cloth.  I tried the nice simple Oslo stitch, sitting with a friend and Viking re-enactor who knows how to do it.  Then I took it home and the pixies must have got hold of the piece when I wasn't watching, as it's not looking like it should.  Un-looping a few stitches hasn't helped me figure out how to start again.
     Because of all the shop projects going on, my personal yarn projects are no more complicated than a hemp seed stitch dish cloth.  I quite like how that's coming out.  Much better drape than the garter stitch ones I did a few years ago.  Less stretchy.  Also, I like being able to leave the project sitting out beside my chair overnight without worrying that moths will break in and steal.*
     I guess I did make something since I last blogged, a språng bag to give as a gift.  I broke my synthetic dye diet for that.  The colour was the polar opposite of my taste, too.  Anyway, it was a cute little bag.  Operative word being little, it came out half the size I was expecting two skeins to give.  I did one of my favourite patterns, the one from Skrydstrup, Denmark.  I like patterns I don't have to think much about when I'm doing them.  With the hemp knitted dish cloth, actually, I tried linen stitch and just couldn't hack it.  Strange because there's not much to the directions but that's how it is.

språng bag in Skrydstrup pattern

     The two wool sweaters are still unfinished and the Quince & Co. Sparrow swatches for the linen sweater have been abandoned, but only because I have switched yarns.  I got a couple of one pound cones from Catnip Yarns.  Isn't that a great shop name?  The owner specializes in undyed yarn, which is cool.
     With that and the two cones of hemp yarn from Hemp Basics, and all the one kilogram containers of dyes and additives from Maiwa (for my shop, dye kits are back in stock), I'm thinking of building a fort with it all.
     But yeah, the metalwork.  The planning.  The watching of old Craftsy classes plus a few new ones.  The ambition to try new techniques.  The signing up for local classes.  The careful choosing of materials.  Oh, the materials.  It's like buying wool.  I knew I had it bad when my Internet browser started to automatically fill in the URL with Rio Grande when I typed www.  I finally got together my sterling silver scraps from lost wax casting and sent them in to Rio Grande to get money out of them to buy silver sheet and wire.  Sort of like tossing the stash.
     I wish someone had told the Craftsy instructors how to pronounce Rio Grande properly.  Rhymes with Monday.  Everybody gets it wrong except Mark Nelson, which is no surprise since he works for the company.


*wee Bible joke: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21 KJV
The pixies were a joke, too.

10 March, 2018

Natural Dye Shopping List

This week I sold the last dye kit in my Etsy shop, Rosetwist LLC.  I have reordered supplies to restock.

In the meantime I thought I'd give you a shopping list of dyes for Maiwa, my supplier.  That way you can go direct.  It isn't the exact proportions you'd need, like the kit has.  It has the same dyes and additives as the kit I sold, but with larger quantities and some gallnut for mordanting cotton.  The total cost will be about double that of my kit, because it is more dye and also you are buying the smallest quantities Maiwa offers which means you don't get the bulk prices.  

Gallnut Extract 100g (3.6 oz.)
Fructose - 250g (8.82 oz.)
Calcium Carbonate 250g (8.82 oz)
Potassium Alum Sulfate 100g (3.6 oz.)
Weld 100g (3.6 oz.)
Walnut Husks Ground 100g (3.6 oz.)
Madder 100g (3.6 oz.)
Calcium Hydroxide (Calx) 60g (2.1 oz)
Indigo Natural 30g (1.1 oz.)

If you are wondering how to dye with natural dyes, Maiwa has informational guides about natural dyes at https://maiwa.com/pages/instructions including The Maiwa Guide to Natural Dyes: What They Are and How to Use Them, Indigo and Woad: Natural and Synthetic, and The Organic Vat.  The last one is also about indigo and includes the fructose vat, which is what the shopping list is meant to give.

In other news, I have made headway in my effort to have more linen in my life.  I bought a pair of linen socks from Rawganique.  They look like sports socks but they are linen instead of cotton, and they are undyed which goes well with my synthetic dye diet.  Wearing the socks feels as good as wading in the ocean barefoot.  Really.  And I very much like wading in the ocean, especially at Rathtrevor.

Finally, I have been making knitting-themed barrettes in copper and sterling silver.  Again, you can find them in my shop.  One is about weaving.  I don't know many weavers with hair long enough to wear a barrette but you never know.  There may be one out there in the market for a barrette that says "tromp as writ."  These barrettes are good for wearing to a fibre festival when it is too hot out to wear handknits.  Unless your handknits are linen, of course.  I haven't totally given up on the plan to knit a linen sweater.  We shall see.  Maybe a linen språng pullover like the wool one I did.  That would be amazing.

knitting-themed barrettes from Rosetwist LLC

04 November, 2017

Hairy-seeded Cotton


I separated some cotton from seeds for someone at our guild.  This cotton was grown here in Virginia.  The cotton variety is Nankeen, an old variety whose fibre was used to make breeches in the late 1700s.  (I owe knowledge of that fact to Colonial Williamsburg.)  The colour is undyed, naturally yellow-brown.  The seeds, the pile on the left in the photo, are hairy and it took some effort to pull the fibre off the seeds.  I've never separated smooth-seeded cotton, but I hear it is easier.

04 June, 2016

The Urge to Show and Tell

A couple of women were sifting through the bowl of my yarn-themed pin back buttons at a market a while back, laughing and pointing out the sayings to each other.  "That's so X!" they said about the "freshly handknit, please admire" button, referring to someone in their knitting group they found overly enthusiastic about show and tell.

"Is she a new knitter?" I asked.  When I first learned to spin and knit, I would bring my finished items to the attention of the more experienced handspinners I knew.  It was a way to say, I heard what you said to do, I applied it as best I could, and it's very exciting.

When I show and tell now, I'm more saying, this is possible, this is a result I'm after for these reasons, this is a benefit I'm trying to get through yarn, you can do this too.  Here is a display I did at a local farmers' market recently:

display for handspinning, knitting, weaving
It wasn't a patch on the other handspinner's display, though.  She had a piece of brown un-dyed cotton cloth she grew, spun, and wove.  She also had flax on a spindle.  Sometime I have to get a photo of her in her homegrown, handspun, handwoven green cotton vest.

homegrown un-dyed cotton handspun and handwoven into cloth
I am still working out the dynamics of traffic flow and weather for public demonstrations of fibre arts.  I really should have put up a tarp wall on the sunny side.  We were at the rear of the tent avoiding the sun and it was awkward to greet passersby from back there.  Shade might have helped us bear the humidity; hot weather makes it hard to spin wool.  The tables should have been in a line off to the side rather than an L at the front of the booth.  Sound is also an issue.  We were set up across from a dozen ukuleles with amplifiers.  So, fun but challenging.