29 August, 2015

Old and New

I tested out fine gauge copper for knitting, to make jewellery.  I got an okay result.  The process was a so-so experience.  I will try again with fewer stitches and smaller needles.

Have washed the bulky-gauge grey wool vest that I got at the thrift store, and was very grateful to have a Spin-X appliance to whiz the water out for faster drying.  I am quite sure the vest is handknit, one of the cables is crossed backward.

I found a fisherman's sweater from Ireland at a thrift store and bought that to pass along to someone.  There were a number of other things in the shop that looked interesting but nothing I had to have.  I had my eye on white linen blouses and a white slubby cotton cardigan that would look good garment dyed or resist dyed with indigo.

Since I feel my indigo vat management skills could be improved to get stronger colour, I poked around on the Internet and found some blog posts by Catherine Ellis and India Flint about managing an indigo vat using fructose.  So that's good.

I got my sewing machine serviced, and a generous friend came over to walk me through cutting, piecing, and finishing edges.  I am using linen fabric, of course.  My knowledge and experience of sewing is still rudimentary but I possess more than I did a week ago and that pleases me.

I was thinking, if most cotton raised in the U.S. is now genetically-modified, then perhaps people will start to think of vintage cotton clothing as extra-valuable because the material was raised from non-GMO seed.  Perhaps.

22 August, 2015

Toxic Clothes, Benign Clothes

Newsweek's article, "The Environmental Crisis in Your Closet" by Adam Matthews, August 15, 2015 is worth reading.

I went to a number of thrift stores this week.  Found some things, mostly things that would need upcycling, not so much that can go right in my wardrobe.

Warped the språng loom for a cowl with indigo-dyed organic cotton yarn.

15 August, 2015

The Plan and the Parameters

I may have mentioned, I was talking to a friend about handmade projects, completion, diligence, and accomplishment along with the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be.  She mentioned structure and scheduling, like the way your mother made you brush your teeth at a certain time every day.  I should build some in to my day, regarding fibre arts.

Regarding my wardrobe and phasing in handmade garments, I have thought about what I want to do.  

I consider myself fortunate that I do not have to market myself for an arts grant or crowdfunding, or position a personal brand of any sort.  I don't have to come up with a catch phrase or elevator pitch.  

I was reading a free publication about local food and local food producers and processors, and really wished someone would do the same with clothing.  A couple of people recently have said that we've had the national and international conversation about local, ethically-sourced, biodiverse, and nourishing food but we haven't had that conversation about textiles.

Onward to the plan.

I am going to continue to avoid merino wool and synthetic dye, to avoid synthetic fibres, to prefer organic cotton over conventional, to prefer linen over cotton, to keep silk to a minimum if any, to prefer breed-specific wool with as much longwool as I can get, to buy some secondhand textiles, to seek out natural colour (i.e. from wool from black sheep), and to prefer materials that have travelled the least distance with exceptions for hemp and indigo.  This suits my taste and also addresses a number of issues that I'm interested in such as increasing biodiversity, reducing pollution and erosion, fostering local economies and local capacity for processing or production, treating animals kindly, and reducing contact with materials that may harm the body like resins in superwash or petroleum-derived substances.

Assuming all is well with the mill, I will have five pounds of local white Romney wool spun for me into yarn.  I was thinking two pounds of two ply for weaving and three pounds of three ply worsted weight for knitting, but maybe I should get all two ply.  

I have signed up for a basic sewing class.  

In a couple of months, I plan to try using a friend's knitting machine.  

I have some weld that I ought to use.  It is a lovely, lovely lemon yellow dye.  I redid the madder but got a rusty orange-red that displeased me.  The store-bought cashmere sweater is dyed a deep indigo, not evenly but good enough for me.

I bought yarn for two sweaters, undyed local Coopworth that never left the East Coast for processing.  Some is 3 ply sport weight and some is 2 ply lace weight.  This commits me to knitting lace, which is a bit worrisome given how aggravated I felt about knitting lace the first and only time I did it.  

I learned about Quince & Co. yarn, which is entirely domestically sourced.  Their bare 3 ply sport weight yarn interests me.

True to my record of loving fibre arts tools, I now want to custom order a clamp resist for dyeing and a block printing block.  We shall see if I can afford them.

I love books too.  I ordered some secondhand books about sewing, making clothes with handwoven yardage, and using knitting machines.  I borrowed some as well.  There is a fresh heap of books by the chesterfield.

I did some people watching at church, looking at their clothes, especially the detailing.  I need to do some window shopping, the new season's clothing should be out.  My sense of what's in style could use some sharpening.  

I need to spend more time more regularly in thrift stores and consignment stores, and look at the racks for items to wear.  I've been drawn to linen things that I would not wear but I keep in a box because I like them.  My wardrobe is on the meagre side, by design and also because I am hard to please, hard to fit, and not fond of dressier styles.  

For fun, I bought a piece of secondhand clothing to make over.  It was very cheap.  It will take some time to alter, but it will be fun to do.  I won't want to wear the results, we will see what happens to it.

I repaired the metal catch on my shorts with pliers and am feeling smug.

I was with a small group of people I don't know that well and they started talking about clothes shopping, specifically buying lots of clothes from cheaper retailers.  I didn't challenge them on the implications to workers or the environment, I got a bad reaction once when talking up the Buy Nothing Day campaign with a stranger.  Then one of them started talking about the thrill of finding clothes in thrift stores.  I fostered the conversation along those lines and found some of the others were thrift store enthusiasts.  So that was fun.

As I said, I don't have to worry about putting a label on this course of action.  I was talking with someone and she said that once I have made handdyed, handwoven, or handknit clothes and wear them then the goal is that people would see and ask, and I would urge them to make their own.  And I just felt that, no, this is not about activism.  Or, I'm not about activism.  Now, possibly I am kidding myself about this.  I love to enable, I will give folks way more information than they need all about how to do this.  I'll give them tools and supplies.  I wore my "will knit for love" button to the store and the clerk asked me to teach her to knit.  I said yes.  You know my personal photo on this blog is my fist holding aloft a spindle as if to say freedom through handspinning.  Still, I'm am doing this to clothe myself well just like I buy organic vegetables, dry organic rice, and rosemary garlic lamb sausage so I can eat well.  I hope that makes sense.  The difference is that few see my supper.  And I don't eat organic or local or home-cooked food all the time.

One last thing, I have listened to the first episode of the podcast Woolful and quite like it.

08 August, 2015

The Proper Response

I watched the documentary, The True Cost, about the cost of mass-produced clothing including the cost to labourers, the environment, and farmers who produce raw goods.  It made me want a handmade wardrobe even more.  I don't want my money perpetuating that.

I recommend the movie, which is on Netflix streaming in the U.S. right now, or available to buy on iTunes and Amazon.  I know some people won't like the content politically because it talks about unions, worker's rights, pollution, and government regulation.

I wish the documentary had touched on the issue of synthetic dyes, as well as non-commercial alternatives to the conventional system.  And given more commercial alternatives.

I don't think I learned anything new, except that one expert who was interviewed said she believes that the socially responsible sourcing guidelines of major clothing companies are worthless.  As in, the companies don't stick to what they say they do.  That shook me up.

Mostly the value I got out of the movie was the human face it put on the issues, on the balance of power.  It is really hard to see people tear up or express anger over what has happened to them.

I have been reading the blogs of a couple of fibre artists, Katrina Rodabaugh and Victoria Pemberton, who have found artistic expression by putting limits on their work, such as no new clothes or no synthetic dye.  It has made me think about the criteria I want and what I want to do.  I'm still thinking.

Some friends and I were talking about slow clothes, handmade clothes, and locally-sourced and locally-made clothes.  Things like the deaths at Rana plaza, how a move to slow clothes would change how people look, the difficulty of getting everything local in an outfit even down to the shoes, and how weight fluctuations would be accommodated in a wardrobe that takes a lot of effort and time to make.

01 August, 2015

Madder Powder, Ruined

I ruined 3 ounces of madder powder by letting the water get above 140 degrees F, and am cross with myself.  Another pot of water is heating.  This one will come to temperature and stay there for a bit until I am satisfied, then I'll put in the dye.

I did my first Periscope broadcast, looking at my madder dye bath and then some fibres dyed with various natural dyes.  Didn't retain any viewers or get any live chat, oh, well.  It is up for the next little while and then it is deleted.  My username is Rosetwist LLC.

Was successful at drilling a hole in the pewter whorl I cast, so that was good.  Have to figure out what to string it on, for a pendant, and then it will go in the shop.  Probably it would be better for me to fit it with a shaft and sell it as a spindle.  Me with no wood or way of shaping wood.  But if I sell it as a pendant, I make no claims that it can spin which is probably good because it is not evenly formed and may wobble.

Picked up a piece of horn at auction and made it into a diz (a tool used in wool combing).  Loved working with the material, loved that it was up-cycled.  Somehow I managed to make the diz with the beautiful golden ratio, about 2 x 3 inches, even though I didn't measure.  I need to learn how to polish horn to a glossy finish, so a trip is in order, to see the tinkers at Colonial Williamsburg.

Finally finished knitting the baby hat with sock yarn.  Still love that pattern.  Still have more sock yarn to use up.  Another hat went right on the needles.

There's someone in Australia, I heard about it though Fibershed's Facebook feed, someone who is doing an entire outfit entirely of local materials, local processing, local production.  It's called one year, one outfit.  I think it's great.  She's asking other people to do the same.  The yarn I have that's local to where I live, I don't know if it left the area for processing so I don't know if it qualifies.