Woven bark fibre

While some are drowning the world  in plastic and we are trying to find ways of cleaning it from our rivers and oceans because it is contaminating the environment , there are other people on the other end of the scale who are very passionate about rediscovering sustainable living. We are not all going to be sitting on the forest floor stripping bark and weaving it. We just aren’t. What we’ll do , though, is watch something like this and know for a fact that we can do better and we can get back to living in a way which will stop piling trash of all sorts of descriptions all over our home. It’s actually fascinating to watch this man weave bark. We have a lot of gum tree bark which peels of the trees here. Maybe we could put it to better use?

We thank Marina for sharing this video link with us.

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Spinning cotton

spun cottonA while back , Hilary brought in a bulk purchase of cotton to spin and we could buy it a tiny prices. Marina had decided to spin hers and she found out it spins far better on a bigger, older wheel than on a small wheel. You need a strong pull on the fibre to get the cotton to spin nicely, so a wheel where you have a good chance of changing ratios and tension. The dyed cotton wasn’t actually something we thought looked particularly good but now we have seen it spun up it looks great and can be plied with itself or some silk and makes a really nice yarn. If you don’t try things, you don’t know. Looking at it tells you nothing. Cotton is good for bags, tops and wash cloths. It is totally sustainable and cotton growers are getting smarter at using less water. As a plant based fibre it is easily composted. As a lightweight, breathable fibre it is good to wear next to your skin so learning to spin cotton gives you more yarn choices for projects. Some people are allergic to wool.

Rose Fibre

Rose fibre is obviously celullose based. It is one of the plant fibres which is becoming increasingly popular , partly because people are experimenting with unusual fibres and partly because vegans do not want to use animal based fibres. It is completely sustainable and eco-friendly. It can be mixed in with other fibres to increase the drape of the knitted, felted or crocheted fabric. If you are going to dye it, you need to ensure you are using a dye suitable for cellulose based fibres. It’s easy to spin but if you watch the video you can see how the woman pulls the fibres apart and loosens them before she spins them. It adds sheen and shine. We are all looking forward to using our rose fibre which we have bought this year but haven’t yet worked out how we are going to use it. Are we going to spin it separately , as this woman has, or are we going to mix it in with other fibres? Rose fibre is regenerated and similar to bamboo. The plats are broken down to the cellulose and the fibre is made from that. Different from cotton which is produced directly from the plant.

Felted boots and slippers

Felted bootsAlexis brought these hand felted boots along on Monday for our felting workshop to help us see the possibilities of felting boots. We were starting with baby booties but  could look at these boots Alexis had made and know we could aim for something as cosy , comfy and warm as these. Alexis was explaining, as did Jan, that the sort of wool/fibre you use will change your success rate or the feel and look of the boots. The workshop wasn’t just about teaching us how to be better at felting , it was also about helping us to envision where this might all lead. Merino wool will create softer felt than say, Border Leicester. Alexis’ boots were made with 6 layers of felting. They were sturdy and the inlay of extra colour at the top was an attractive touch to the overall look of the boots.

Sally Gulbrandsen has a number of tutorials about wet felting slippers and boots. One of her techniques is to felt over plastic shoes and use a tumble dryer to felt them. Jan had recommended her as someone worth considering when looking for ideas for felting.

Jan also sent a link to a video about wet felting slippers one at a time. The trick here is to ensure they are both the same size. The video is a very good tutorial for learning how to do slippers that way.