Ellen is a vibrant member of the Chesapeake Fibershed so I thought it would be fun to talk about the Fibershed movement. We also get into the difficulties there are with getting local yarn and fabrics, simply because our infrastructure is gone. There are some new ideas out on the horizon, so there is lots to be hopeful about. We also talk about the status of our local wardrobes and what we are working on right now. You can listen to the podcast here or anywhere you listen to podcasts. If you would prefer to watch, you can find it here on my You Tube.
So I planned to do this blog on Wednesday, but you know….It was full of drama and pomp and circumstance, a few tears and a little nail biting. So here is my current, well one of them, project. This is my “Fibershed” sweater. It is all yarn made from my animals or those of partner farms within 100 miles, really within 20 miles. The dark is naturally colored wool, mohair and alpaca fleeces. The bright colors are all natural dyes on my mohair yarn.
The pattern is Shifty. I changed just about all of it. It’s supposed to be a pullover, but I wanted a cardigan. I added a steek and I’ll cut it apart after it’s blocked. It supposed to be sport weight and this yarn is closer to worsted. So I had to go up a couple of needle sizes and down a couple of sweater sizes. But it fits just fine. Thank you Kyle for suggesting this fix!!
I’m currently working on the sleeves. I’m doing these two at a time, in a way. I’m doing a group of blips and then moving to the opposite sleeve and doing the same blips on that side. That way I’m keeping better track of the decreases and I’m using the same color rotation.
I’m hoping to finish this within 3 weeks. Maybe sooner? I have to finish the sleeves, stabilize the steek with crochet, block, cut, figure out buttons and make button holes. I think I’m not going to do a button band but rather crochet loops. Then it will be done!!
I’m starting to do my natural dye experiments for a truly “Fibershed” yarn. The base is our new Polypay worsted. It is made from fleeces grown at a partner farm in Virginia and spun in Pennsylvania.
First I gathered the whole black walnuts on our property. I cracked the husks off the nuts. (I really thought I took a photo of this step, but alas not). Then I soaked those husks for about a month.
Wednesday, I heated the dye liquor up and put in 2-color skeins and a semi-solid skeins. I heated them for at least an hour. Dyeing with walnuts doesn’t need a mordant as the tanin in the dye is mordant enough. Then I let the pot cool down and let it sit for another day. Then on to rinsing and drying the yarn.
I think these look great. The pot still contains a lot of dye, so I’ll be using it until it’s exhausted. I’ll do some other 2-color experiments with maybe some madder or some cochineal too. Those would look nice. Stay tuned!!
In this episode, Lisa talks about slow fashion: what is it and how can it help to heal our planet. She also introduces the Fibershed movement and their call to action. You can join our Wardrobe project in a special facebook group.
We can cloth ourselves more mindfully and save the planet from trash, pollution and climate change, one little bit at a time. Listen to the podcast to find out how you can start this journey. Or go to itunes and subscribe so you don’t miss and episode.
I’ve written here before that I happen to be the slowest knitter in the world. And part of that is because I try things that are over my head. And then I have to take things out and redo. But even with that, I just finished another sweater that is still drying from the blocking process. So this sweater is not on the stack for obvious reasons.
This Friday, I wanted to celebrate….celebrate something, especially now when the world is upside down and small businesses like mine are being squeezed by the travel and festival closures.
So here is my pile of sweaters….these sweaters were knit by me. I have many sweaters that I commissioned. Those should be celebrated as well, and I will do that in the future, I promise. Today is about the skill of my own hands, dye pots, and animals.
What does your sweater pile look like? Are you knitting them yet? Do you want to knit one now? Reply to this post and let me know!
We’ve had a really mild winter. We had a week or two with temperatures in the teens. But it was a dry cold. We had maybe 2 or 3 days of snow and then it didn’t stay for a long time. It has made my winter feeding pretty easy.
So now I’m dreaming about restarting my natural dye garden. I tried this several years ago. And the only successful planting was the Madder. Oh Boy! It has taken over. I’m hoping to dig all the roots up in a few weeks. A great resource for dye plants is Rita Buchanan’s A Weaver’s Garden.
As part of my thoughts about a local wardrobe and a local fibershed, I decided to go all in with dye plants this year. I got plants that make blue, yellows, reds and a black.
I’m going to plant more and in a place where there is more sun as well. I’ll be updating here as the season progresses.
Really? A whole wardrobe? What is that about? I’ve been thinking a lot about how the choices we make really effect our planet and our climate. I’ve written about this before and I have been reading and thinking about just how to make a local wardrobe.
I make wool and mohair yarn. So I can have outerwear pieces from my very local yarn. I can make socks, boot cuffs, hats, mittens, scarves, shawls and sweaters with the yarn from my own animals.
I can felt fiber into fabric to make a coat and accessories like a messenger bag or purse.
But as summer comes along, I will also need to have some lighter fabrics. There aren’t any cotton growers or cotton and linen mills in our area. So for lighter garments I will have to find cotton and linen made in neighboring states. I’m hoping to even find some hemp grown in N. Carolina. So my fibershed, my local will have to widen out a bit.
Why go to all this trouble? Because it is important to turn away from the plastic and microfibers in commercial clothing. Did you know that 60% of our garments are made with polyester. To make this, we consume 350 million barrels of oil every year. That’s amazing. That’s dangerous.
Did you also know that nearly 2 gms of microfibers come off of a jacket run through the wash. And that 40% of that makes it to streams, rivers and the oceans? We’ve seen the massive amount of plastic garbage in the ocean, but these microfibers are largely unseen and still they are a threat. Like seafood? You are ingesting this microfiber that traveled to the ocean.
So my little part may not make a huge difference. But I will be doing my part… Want to do your part too? Think about your own local wardrobe or local pieces. We have wool and mohair yarns made right here in many different weights and we are growing this local yarn line as I write this.