I really love collaborating. I believe that lending skills, sharing process and bolstering our fellow people up contributes to the good life. There is nothing we cannot accomplish with collaboration, community and support.
I had the privilege of working with Amy Seeburger, founder and chief textiles master at Aurelian Spun & Woven in Brookline, Massachusetts. Amy and I had the pleasure of connecting over instagram in 2015 and have kept in touch since, crafting a long distance friendship and much respect. I have much reverence for her as a woman taking charge, dedicating herself to high quality craftsmanship and her vision. Her hand spun yarns and handwoven wearables are a thing of beauty. Truly heritage craft made with a lot of heart and the best, locally and ethically sourced fibres. Her high caliber goods, extremely keen eye and commitment to exploitation free production make for some of the most beautiful textiles I’ve ever seen and had the honour of handling. Maybe I’m gushing… But it’s all true and I love giving credit where credit is due.
Amy hand spun Finn and Shetland wool for our collaboration and employed a couple of different spinning techniques. All are worsted spun in different weights. Showcasing her talent at the spinning wheel! I employ natural dye extracts as well as fresh or dried foraged plants from my fire tower home in my natural dye practice. As such, all of the yarns are dyed with extracts and fresh forage, dyed, washed and rinsed in rain water in my tiny off grid fire tower cabin in the north of Canada. The boreal forest. My place in the world. I am deeply inspired by life deep in the wood.
The Shetland fibre we worked with comes from Maine, dyed a warm purple-married-to-brown, is about a fingering weight and 16 WPI. I dyed each skein with logwood, cutch, iron and cochineal.
Each of the remaining colour ways are of Finn fibre from Wisconsin.
I dyed the strong red yarn with a combination of madder and lac. This yarn is a heavy aran or even light bulky yarn, WPI 7 - 8.
The blue, indigo and is about a heavy aran weight family, WPI - 8.
The gold, cutch, osage orange andthe first goldenrod (solidago canadensis) of the season. The gold yarn is a worsted weight, WPI 10.
Autumn is fully here and the time is just a few days away that I leave my fire tower for the season. This toq’aq, autumn, a very exciting, awaited experience is coming down the pipe. I’ll be exiting the fire tower and entering a month long Millstay as the weaver in residence at Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs, Alberta. I will be working on a body of work that will be exhibited at the end of the stay, dyeing yarns, weaving, demoing, etc. etc.
CWM produces beautiful, heritage quality, seriously real woollen yarns on classic and trusty milling equipment in rural Alberta. I visited CWM in the spring before heading to the tower, something I’d been looking forward to doing for a long stretch. I have been using their yarns for years and have no reservation in saying that their yarns are my favourite to use. Every sweater I’ve ever knitted has been with yarn milled at CWM. Their ethos, community involvement, agricultural knowledge and practice is right up my alley. They source high quality wool from the west directly from farmers and the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers, hand sort, wash and process it on site with the aforementioned turn of the century milling equipment. Not only does CWM produce beautiful yarns made from single breed sheep and other exotic fibres of varying weights, they also make woollen products ranging from wool bedding, socks, felt, knitting kits, rugs and blankets(in co-operation with local weavers), roving, combed locks and not to be left out, wool insulation for home builders. Amazing. The wonders of wool are not lost on CWM.
This is only to speak to their fibre work. The staff, family and community at CWM also work a huge garden, catch honeybee swarms and have recently planted a garden of dye plants. All in step with practiculture and permaculture ethics. They’re after my own heart I’m sure.
So, needless to say I am extremely excited to spend time at CWM. I’ll be there for a month, from September 17 through to October 15. Please, if you live in or around or will be passing through Carstairs, drop in. My studio space will be open for the duration of my stay. I love to talk textiles, process, dye, weaving, bees, anything, anytime. Also, there will be a dye demonstration on September 24 at 1300, open to the public, following the demo a guided mill tour will commence at 1400, their regular Saturday open mill day.
You can find Custom Woolen Mills online at http://www.customwoolenmills.com, Instagram @customwoolenmills, Facebook - Custom Woolen Mills and Twitter @thewoolenmill.