After a long and largely sunless Winter, SPRING is finally here! In my garden here in Reading, there is an apple tree with new growth bristling in its twisty branches; the papery petals of the hellebore flowers are in bloom; a scattering of vivacious green leaves are sprouting along the hedges; and neat little clusters of grape hyacinth stand out of their crowns of leaves like jewel-encrusted turrets.
It’s a veritable feast of greys, greens, and purples.
The actual sunlight we are now experiencing means that I have FINALLY been able to photograph the last of the WOVEMBER prizes, and to notify the winner, Janis Reuter. Congratulations, Janis!
Your exuberant, home-grown sweater embodies the very essence of CELEBRATING WOOL, and your own-design spinning wheel is a fitting testimony to the connections between the beloved animals from which fibres come, and the tools we use to turn them into garments.
Here’s my Coopworth sheep shorn, washed, carded, dyed, spun and knit to wear anywhere. The first soak in a big rubber outside tub, PG hand carder, natural dyes and my sweet spinning wheel all contribute here.
Also HAD to throw in a pic of my custom designed and made wheel.
- Janis Reuter
I hope you can all forgive the long delay in the delivery of this prize, but it is so beautiful that I really wanted to share it with all you WOVEMBER readers before shipping it off. The required combination of good light plus me being in the country and not gadding about for my work did not coincide until TODAY.
This is yarn spun by Cecilia in the process of producing her beautiful, inspiring blog posts for WOVEMBER on handspinning. If you didn’t read them back in WOVEMBER, here they are again:
…the yarns you can see in those posts were created especially by Cecilia to show how many ways there are of working with wool, and you may recognise them from the posts, here in their finished glory:
Fibre: 100% Wool from Blue-faced Leicester Sheep
Colour: ‘Vivien’ by Freyalyn
Fibre: 100% Wool from Blue-faced Leicester Sheep
Colour: Ash Root – inspired by WOVEMBER 2012
I believe these images were the inspiration for the lovely Ash Root yarn…
The collection is a veritable feast of greys, greens, and purples.
…and in case you needed further proof that Spring has well and truly sprung, check out my yarn photo shoot assistant!
Cecilia Hewett who spun these wonderful yarns is a member of The Woolclip whom we mentioned in our post about WOOLFEST. A Cumbrian co-operative of extraordinary women all working with wool in one way or another, members of The Wool Clip are especially connected to the distinctive landscape in which they live through their work with textiles. This connection manifests in everything from a practical dependence on local sheep for WOOL through to drawing inspiration from the colours and history of local places for textile projects. Many of Cecilia’s gorgeous handspun yarns are both from the landscape and about the landscape. You can read more about Cecilia and The Wool Clip here!
On behalf of TEAM WOVEMBER, Happy Spring and Happy Spinning (Happy Springing?)
As you know, there were 2 parts to the competition; a blog-post contest and a photo-contest. We have awarded prizes accordingly in both categories.
We particularly loved Kate’s observations on sheep:
People who don’t know sheep – like some of my friends, for example – often fall into the trap of thinking lambs are soft and pretty and cutesy and fluffy-wuffy, It’s something of a shock when they encounter the real thing. This pet lamb, for instance, was as strong as a small ox.
Kate Davies’s amazing book, ‘Colours of Shetland’, does a superb job of exploring the relationships between the sheep, knitting, history and landscape in Shetland and we thought it would therefore be an apposite prize for Kate Woolwinding’s celebration of these same connections in the very different landscape of the Welsh mountains.
Second prize in the blog-post category goes to Joanne Elizabeth for her post on working with wool.
Wool means so much to me, I imagine the sheep when I am knitting, I gasp at the feeling of the strands turning into a garment, into texture. I inhale the smell of real wool, go crazy about patterns and styles. Knitting and wool; they relax me and bring me home.
We thought that a beautiful felted sheep kit from Ansnag Breac would serve as a beautiful ongoing reminder of that sheep/wool connection valued by Joanne in her words.
Sara’s knowledge of her sheep and the thoughtful way that she works with their wool really spoke to us.
I quickly sat the basket of her wool down and knew she’d sniff it.
…As did Monique’s knitterly account of a trip to Shetland.
I glanced at the colour card and noticed a lovely orange. The same shade of the wrap that the lady on the bus from Voe had been wearing the day before. The road from Voe to Lerwick was long enough for me to study the pattern.
Congratulations to all our winners in the blog post category of the WOVEMBER competition!
As with last year’s photo competition, your photos are amazing! However in thinking about the ‘Closing the Gap’ themes of this year’s WOVEMBER, some of the entries were especially apposite.
First prize goes to Kate Greatorex, who handspun and hand-dyed the yarn for this Gansey.
The pictures show me wearing my Gansey for Derbyshire, a culmination of 4.5 miles of spinning, designing, dyeing and knitting up the wonderful Derbyshire Gritstone fleece. Photographed by my daughter on the moor where they run.
The very act of collecting and processing this local fleece is a wonderful act of ‘Closing the Gap’ in and of itself. One copy of Layter is on its way to you, Kate, and Blacker Yarns will send you the yarn once you know how many balls of yarn you need to knit it. Congratulations!
In publishing the words and thoughts of Finisterre and Lesley Prior throughout WOVEMBER, we have been struck by the passion with which this company and this shepherd are linking commerce, wool, culture and industry together in their work. Lesley’s inspiring blog connects her wool-growing activities to the bigger picture concerning the global wool market, while Finisterre are developing products which celebrate traceability and quality. One of the photos which we felt reflected the centrality of wool to culture, industry, commerce and history is this one taken by Anja Vos;
Growing wool is important for mankind since ancient times. This is an example from the middle ages. Picture was taken in Rouen, in France. It’s a sculpture under an arch in the middle of the town.
Wool has a very real relationship to International trade, and the underside of Rouen’s ornate clock (where Anja’s photo was taken) is said to be decorated with sheep in reference to the fact that Rouen – like many other towns the world over – was built with wool money. This elaborate clock is testimony to a time when the global wool market thrived. If any wool market is to thrive again globally now and in the future, we need to look to trail-blazers like Finisterre and Lesley Prior who are joining up the dots and adapting their products, processes, marketing and business approach to fit the modern market.
We thought that for all the links between commerce and wool, Anja’s photo should win her one Bowmont Scarf from Finisterre!
For the third prize – which is £20 to spend in the Shearer Girl Yarns shop, we thought that Michelle Mohr McMillen’s photo of the textures of her shetland ewe against the bark of a tree was appropriately sheepy and lovely! Lydia’s work shearing sheep has a raw, elemental physicality about it which we felt was exactly matched in the textural celebration of bark and fleece in McMillen’s photo.
I call this photo I took of my fawn gulmoget Shetland ewe Boulderneigh Bramble “Textures.”
Finally, we loved these photos of sheep being sheared by Laura from The Unique Sheep, and a package of yarny goodness and brooches will soon be wending its way to you!
Shearing Shetland sheep, February 2012, Outside of Lexington, KY at Square Peg Farm
There is one last prize to announce, but I am waiting for enough daylight to take a nice photo of it, as it’s too nice to post without showing all you wool enthusiasts what it looks like first.
Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in the competition. It’s been lovely to see your photos on the themes of Growing, Harvesting, Processing, Working with, and Wearing, wool.
Wovember readers, we have not forgotten you, neither have we forgotten the issuing of Prizes for your wonderful photo and blog competition entries!
Today team Wovember members T & F met to trade woolskills, to talk about Wovember, and to delight together in WOOL.
Here is Tom, combing fibres identified as Romney in Deb Robson’s Fleece & Fiber Source Book. The fleece was purchased from Prick Your Finger’s ‘Murder at the Wool Hall’ installation at the Stanley Picker Gallery. Louise Harries and Rachael Matthews sourced wool for this project from within the M25!
What we couldn’t comb, we carded, taking knowledge from Elsie Davenport’s book on handspinning – an important source for Tom’s superb ‘Wovember Words’ post series.
We delighted in the beautiful baubles made of wool by Joanne for us.
Thank you, Joanne.
We raptured about Cecilia’s handspun – photos to follow – created with great skill and love for a lucky Wovember competition entrant – and I mended a sleeve.
Thank you for all the Wovember love and inspiration, as you can see the works, words, ideas and spirit of WOOLCELEBRATION continues and soon we will be back on here, announcing winners of prizes and suchlike…
Turbowool and see you soon,
Team Wovember x
Well, Wovember is over and the whole team took a well-deserved weekend off! Thank you contributors for sharing all your knowledge, stories, thoughts and ideas. Thank you readers, for all your positive and supportive comments, they kept us going. There are still a few loose ends to tie up: here is Tom talking about his woollen trousers, as he did make a pair – and you can see where he spent the weekend relaxing:
When I joined Team Wovember, I was introduced to the Wovember readers in a Q&A post, in which I mentioned that the only thing lacking in my wardrobe, was a pair of woollen trousers. I curated all the Wovember Words, and as this took up more time than anticipated – there were so many interesting quotes, I posted one every day – I never got round to the trousers. Or, to be more precise, I never got round to writing about them. As I did make myself a pair, shown here in a completely natural pose:
Woollen Outfit: Woollen Socks, Woollen Trousers, Woollen Jacket, Woollen Jumper, Woollen Gloves, Woollen Hat – I left my Woollen Scarf at home, as quite frankly, it was rather hot!
The gloves and the hat will get their own separate posts in due course, as today I want to tell you all about my trousers. For a long time now, I wanted to make myself a pair of trousers, and indeed, two winters ago, I bought some lovely charcoal woollen fabric from Dïtto. I bought some calico. I bought a pattern. I bought a zip and buttons and thread. And I traced the pattern in one size too small. And I made a toile from the calico. And I found out I my mistake. I traced again; I made a second toile. And I found it had the right size, but had an ugly fit.
And that’s when I gave up.
But, the fabric always looked at me reproachfully every time I opened the drawer in which I had hidden it from sight, so WOVEMBER2012 seemed to be the right time to try again. I was lucky that in the meantime I had made friends with Zoe, who knows a thing or two about sewing, and we agreed on a skill-swap: I would teach her how to darn, she would teach me about sewing. She gave me some tips on altering the pattern and this time, the toile fitted very well, and confidently I took my shears to the woollen fabric:
As, however, I’m not a confident sewer, and my Singer treadle sewing machine doesn’t have any seam guides on the cover plate, I basted every single seam before taking it to the sewing machine. It meant that I could pay attention to the needle, rather than the side of the seam, and I didn’t have to worry about navigating over pins: the fabric is quite heavy, so a pin, even if inserted perpendicular to the stitch line, was a slight distraction. It may come as no surprise to you, that I tried to make these trousers to the best of my abilities I currently have.
So, let me take you through my trousers, so to speak!
I hand-picked the fly and zipper for two reasons: 1) I just really love the look of it; 2) I do know how to wield a needle and thread, but I still struggle a bit with making a nicely curved stitch line.
I’m a big fan of tailored button-holes, and I once spent an afternoon perfecting my button-hole stitch, so I finally got to use it on a garment, even if my Singer has a buttonhole attachment that famously makes the most gorgeous buttonholes in the whole wide world. For a sewing machine. The vintage button was sewn on with a “woven shank”, which means that you go around and through the threads of the shank in a figure-of-eight:
I’m particularly proud of my welted pockets. I approached them very carefully, spent a lot of time pressing and basting, because a heavy woollen fabric really needs to be put into place with a lot of pressing, making fiddly folding of strips of fabric a bit of a challenge:
The cuffs also have a special finish. There used to be a time that I thought that spending £250 or more on a pair of designer trousers, was money well spent (oh how I have changed), and when you buy these kind of trousers, their cuffs haven’t been finished yet, so that they can be made to measure. One shop I used to frequent, used a seamstress who always put this sturdy ribbon in. It protects the cuff from fraying, and it also made the trousers fall very nicely over your shoes – grosgrain ribbon is the nearest I could find, although I remember the ribbon in those expensive trousers to be a bit sturdier. If anybody knows what this is called in English, I would love to hear from you. In Dutch, they are called a ‘stootband’ which roughly translates into bumper.
There is one drawback on using my Singer treadle machine. It’s a straight-stitch-only machine. I do have the zigzag attachment (it attaches in a similar fashion as the buttonholer, but instead it makes the fabric zigzag under the needle) and every time I try this out, I have less than satisfactory results. So I blanket stitched all seams by hand. I also sewed down the waistband by hand, as I wanted a very neat finish. Last but not least, I read somewhere (I can’t remember the source), that back-stitching the centre seam makes for a very strong seam, which also has a little bit of give. Which is good, as I wear these trousers on my bicycle, too, so I also back-stitched the centre seam.
I have been told by sewers that all that hand-finishing would completely put them off. But I feel differently about this: apart from actually enjoying handstitching, I’m not put off by something taking its time. I’m a handknitter, and I’m used to it. Yes, it did add an additional day before these trousers were ready, but I enjoy getting into the rhythm. I put some music on and soon I’m completely absorbed by the task at hand, making stitch after stitch, feeling at one with the object I’m making.
The woollen trousers are already a faithful addition to my wardrobe. They are comfortable, fit very well, and look rather smart. Although I chose the fabric two winters ago, having helped out with Wovember makes me even more happy that I used wool – and those of you who have followed Wovember know that there are plenty of reasons to use wool for your clothes: it’s natural, bio-degradable, hygroscopic, flame-resistant, breathable, warm, sustainable, versatile. But, ultimately, I’m just happy that all this validates what I already know: the look and feel of wool is unsurpassed.
me posing in my high wool-content outfit on Brighton beach.
My Sanquhar socks.
A few official type announcements to make here.
WOVEMBER brooches are now on SALE, with a 15% discount. In order to avail of the discount, you need to enter the coupon code in the right place during the checkout procedure, otherwise it is not possible to apply the discount. The discount coupon is DECEMBER2012 and there is a tutorial explaining how to apply this discount code here. The sale will last for a limited time only: and the shop will close on 5th December 2012, so there are 5 days to get your orders in! Additionally, I will enclose one free extra brooch for every five purchased, in a limited edition, unlisted design.
As you may have noticed, the quantity of prizes for WOVEMBER competition winners has grown throughout WOVEMBER, with people generously donating extra woolly goodness throughout the month! It will take us a little while to organise our thoughts on the wonderful blog-post entries submitted to WOVEMBER – and also the amazing photos – and to allocate prizes, so stay tuned for further news on that front.
A number of people have commented that all the information collated here might be organised into a book format, and that being able to access the information TEAM WOVEMBER have assembled through a nice physical book with big shiny pictures and real paper pages might be a future project. A huge amount of time and administration would be required for agreeing terms and copyright with contributing authors, organising the book into a pleasing and well-indexed layout, etc. However if you would be seriously interested in buying such a book and indeed if any publishers experienced in producing a book along such lines are reading this – we want to hear from you. This is a very preliminary enquiry to gauge interest.
On the theme of navigating the huge quantity of information now housed on the WOVEMBER website, we have created two handy navigation menus – one which uses the tags from last year’s WOVEMBER posts, and one which uses the tags from this year’s posts – to hopefully make it easier for you to find posts written in relation to various Wovember themes.
Hopefully these two menus will make it easy for you to find anything you are especially looking for on the WOVEMBER website if you missed anything in our furious blog-posting bonanza! If you have suggestions for how we can improve the navigation of the site even more, we would love to hear from you and will do what we can to address the usability of the site.
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to WOVEMBER this year… for tweeting and blogging about WOVEMBER, for submitting photos to the contest, for writing blog-posts, for wearing more WOOL and for helping us celebrate WHAT WOOL IS. The whole celebration is only possible because of you.
From TEAM WOVEMBER – One Massive big woolly THANK YOU X
This last post comes from Diane Falck, who has been with us throughout WOVEMBER… whose Ouessant sheeps’ wool we have seen Growing;
Hand-spun and hand-knitted (Worked-with);
Diane’s beautiful posts about working with her Ouessant wool convey a deep sense of connectedness – the very title ‘Spinning Shepherd’ suggests a real relationship between growing wool and making clothes, and her entire blog is underpinned by a combined approach to knitting, spinning, and keeping sheep. However for WOVEMBER 2012, Diane was inspired to write something which extends the inspiration she draws from her shepherding and textile-making activities into more explicitly political territory. In this final WOVEMBER blog post of 2012, we hear how Diane’s activities as a spinning shepherd relate to her critique of the contemporary fashion industry. Her post links back to several themes explored throughout WOVEMBER, and describes the many hands that go into making woollen textiles. Since many hands have gone into making the WOVEMBER website what it is, and doing all the work that WOVEMBER celebrates, it seemed fitting to revisit some of your pictures and words from this year and last, to accompany this shepherd-written close to WOVEMBER 2012.
There is something about being a Spinning Shepherd that so easily lends itself to quiet reflection: walking through the pasture on a sunny November afternoon, surrounded by my small flock of Ouessant sheep, I cannot help but think of the many spinning shepherds who have come before me.
Jean François Millet: Shepherdess with her Flock and Dog, 1863-65
In our busy “post-modern” world, we have too often lost sight of the essential role sheep and textile production played in the lives of our ancestors.
Once upon a time, not that long ago, a large part of domestic work was devoted to transforming fibre into garments for the family. In fact, today, it is very difficult for most people to understand the number of hours it would have taken to transform raw fleece into jumpers, socks and woolly bonnets for the family. Wool must first be grown, then shorn, sorted, washed, carded or combed, and spun before being knit or woven. It took so many hands joined together to produce all of those woollen garments.
‘Shearing Shetland sheep’ and ‘Do happy sheep make finer wool?’ – Laura, The Unique Sheep, WOVEMBER 2012
‘Required Objects’ – shearing tools at a local Sheep and Fiber Festival – Teresa Johnson, WOVEMBER 2011
Lydia Hill shearing sheep – Lydia Hill
‘Old school for good wool’ – Jimmy Gravelet, WOVEMBER 2011
‘Waiting to be Skeined’ – Rebekah Anderson, WOVEMBER 2011
‘Knitting in the wind’ – Jimmy Gravelet, WOVEMBER 2011
‘Shetland meets Kinzel’ – Susanne Kuschnarew, WOVEMBER 2011
The time and care, and dare I say love, which went into this labour intensive process of creating garments for the family produced a cherished and valued item, a garment that was not quickly discarded or replaced.
‘Mended and re-mended stockings’ – Felicity Ford
As Annemor Sundbø has so beautifully suggested in her book, Invisible Threads in Knitting (2007, Torridal Tweed), these domestically produced garments created a web of invisible threads that bind us to the memory of a place, a time, and the many hands that came together to produce a piece of clothing.
Spinners, – Dennis Walker, from The Newbury Coat
Spinners, photographed at Louise Harries’ and Rachael Matthews’ temporary art mill – ‘Murder at The Wool Hall‘
But that was then! Today we live in the 21st century. Modern technology and industrial textile production has liberated us from the long and often dreary chores involved in producing garments for the family.
Expert at Gledhills Spinning Mill industrially spinning Bowmont Merino for Finisterre – David Gray
Carding machine at The Natural Fibre Company – Felicity Ford
And thanks to chemical engineering, the modern era has ushered in a host of “new and improved” textile fibers, like the infamous polyethylene terephthalate (polyester): cheap, easy to care for textiles, made from plastic yarns.
2 for 3 knitwear items, largely made of synthetic fibres, sold on the High Street and in 2011 – Felicity Ford
Yet, I often have to wonder if we haven’t paid an extremely high price for our “modern” convenient plastic textiles.
Yes, we have gained time and convenience.
But what have we lost?
Have we severed those invisible threads that link us to all of those who create the clothes that we wear? In our rampant “throw-away” consumer society, have we forgotten the intrinsic value of things and of communities?
Textile landfill, Syria, image found online here
Of course, I would never suggest that we should go back to some imagined “idyllic” pre-industrial relationship to textiles. But perhaps we do need to rethink our relationship with the clothes that we wear and re-establish those invisible threads that connect us to time, place and people.
This year, Wovember has been addressing the theme of ‘Closing the Gap’ between producers and consumers of wool yarn.
Closing the gap between producers and wearers of wool is one way to re-establish those invisible threads that join us to others.
Lesley Prior with wool from her own Bowmont Merino sheep in her hands, standing on Saville Row, explaining the relationship between the wool in her hands, the sheep at her feet, and the garments in the exclusive tailoring outlets behind her – David Gray of Finisterre
Cecilia demonstrating wheel-spinning at Borrowdale
When we begin to understand where wool comes from and appreciate the many hands that are required to produce a finished garment, we will again understand the real value and beauty of the wool that we wear.
Darning – Diane Falck
Sanquhar sock darn – Tom Van Deijnin
Mended glove – Kata
Many thanks to Diane for writing this piece, and to all the many hands that work with WOOL and that have connected in one way or another through this website during WOVEMBER 2012… the copyright for all the amazing photos used in this piece lies with each named contributor. There will be housekeeping announcements and admin to come, but for now we thought we would bid you all a wonderful, woolly weekend… be warm, wear WOOL, and thank you one and all for making WOVEMBER so WOOLLY! – TEAM WOVEMBER
WARNING: This is a LONG post! Get TEA!
Last year working on WOVEMBER prompted me to embark on a personal project – a ten-year long project – entitled The Slow Wardrobe. I wrote about it here, but here are the salient points:
I want to propose the establishment of The Slow Wardrobe as a way of honouring what wool is. The Fast Wardrobe and BOGOF prices of the High Street are out of kilter with the timings of animals and of the Earth, and with the value and production costs associated with processing real wool. From now on, I intend to clothe myself as much as possible with wool that has been:
produced in a traceable and sustainable way
repurposed/salvaged from ebay or the local charity shops
made by me
grown on a sheep I have personally met
I also want to introduce some practices into my life associated with the development of the Slow Wardrobe which shall include:
passing on good quality woollen items which I have and cannot use in some way to others, so that they can continue their useful life
promoting 100% wool through the production of creative objects and items which celebrate and highlight what wool is
writing about wool and seeking to document the stories of the clothes that I wear
I estimate that it will take me approximately 10 years to accumulate all the clothes I will need for the rest of my life, and that these items shall – as much as possible – be entirely comprised of wool.
A grand plan, for sure, and not completely original – slow fashion is a pretty established concept by now, and indeed only a few days ago, we heard from Amy Twigger Holroyd about what it means to run a Slow Fashion Label… but how’s year one of my Slow Wardrobe project gone?
I have made fewer 100% WOOL clothes this year than I have repurposed/salvaged from the local charity and vintage shops. However, a deepening interest in mending, making and valuing clothes has meant that why I buy clothes has radically changed.
Now I care about wool content. And the history of garments.
I purchased this knitted waistcoat/vest purely because of how often it’s been mended. This was clearly hand-knitted, ironed very regularly, (the cables are completely flat!) and skilfully repaired with sewing thread in many places. I don’t know whether or not it is made of 100% WOOL and it makes me look older than I am to wear it, but everything it represents – valuing, care, labour – is dear to my heart, and so I wear it anyway.
I purchased this oversized man’s cardigan, made by M&S a long time ago in 100% Shetland Wool, with intentions of modifying it; of making it more woman-shaped, more fitted, changing the buttons etc. but the moment I put it on, I felt like my teenage self again. I wore a lot of big baggy man-sweaters as a teenager, with floppy hats from River Island and leggings… (ah the ’90s!) The cardigan was the perfect companion throughout September and carried me perfectly through October, too, paired with shorts and tights and worn with a variety of hats, urban urchin-style. Every time I bury my hands in the pockets, I feel less inclined to do anything to this cardigan but enjoy it, keep it in good repair, and safeguard it from the moths.
I LOVE this poncho, found at Frock and Roll vintage shop in Reading. I love its imperious sweeping folds of blanket-y wool, the way it sits on my shoulders, and the fact that as soon as I put it on I feel the urge to don a turban. It feels like a signature fashion statement in big bold checks, and I enjoy very much that it adds a splash of colour to my wardrobe (more on that later).
As I type, 2 shapeless 100% lambswool man-sweaters are in the washing machine along with an old woolmix Primark tunic on a 60 degree felt-making wash cycle. This represents my most ambitious salvage project to date and both the sweaters were purchased from Age Concern in Reading.
The Primark tunic comes from former times, before I was a serious knitter and before I started seriously thinking about High Street Fashion. At some point in 2009 it got some paint on it, and I decided to embroider over the paint-stains, thus turning the unfortunate spillage into a design feature.
Paint flakes and embroidery repairs
I wear the tunic very often. Repairing it has made me feel affection for it, even though it is only 70% wool – and poor quality wool at that – and even though it comes from Primark. It is a garment I feel proud to own, it is the start of my own interrogation of the ethics of cheap fashion. However it is falling to bits.
I am hard on my pockets. All sorts of stuff goes into them, and these are now full of holes. Also, the shape of the tunic is incredibly unflattering, with a lumpy seam running along the line just above the fullest part of my bust. This is not a good look! Once the sweaters and tunic currently in the washing are done with their felting cycle, I intend to cut a new top for this tunic from the felted fabric, to create replacement pockets, and to up-cycle it into something which will extend its life for another few years.
The tunic is by far and away not the only garment in my wardrobe falling to bits; the felted sweaters will provide patches for all kinds of items in states of disrepair and fraying.
One of the downsides of The Slow Wardrobe is that I have felt permanently scruffy. This is a classic ‘Me’ outfit including 3/4 length corduroy pants from 2005; a charity-shop cashmere sweater and a merino sweater purchased in 2008; the aforementioned tunic; a pair of falke soft-merino tights and some 100% WOOL Estonian legwarmers designed by Riina Tomberg. I am pleased with the composition of the outfit, but anyone would be forgiven for thinking that I am dressed to go gardening and not that these are actually the clothes I wear most of the time!
This is still my first and favourite sweater. What did not fall out of it as pills in the first couple of weeks of its life was subsequently felted in the washing-machine (not deliberately, that time) resulting in a bobbly, semi-felted, merino/angora sweater that is soft but perhaps the worst advert for WOOL’s lasting powers that I own! THE PILLING!
These are some of the best mends from the first year of The Slow Wardrobe:
I love all of these socks in their ever-murkening shades, and am I think justifiably proud of how tidy my darning of them is becoming, through practice.
But the MURK is a problem I need to address in the forthcoming years of The Slow Wardrobe, which brings me to a story which is both about my sense of frustration and failure around SHOES and The Slow Wardrobe and the need for colours in what you must agree so far is an unremittingly MURKSOME palette of greys, blues, greens and dingy browns.
These are some Skechers shoes purchased earlier this year. They are my favourite shoes, my very favourite ever shoes. In August, myself and Mark undertook a 187 mile walk over 12 days, journeying on foot from Weymouth in Dorset to the London Olympic Stadium – a project detailed on Mark’s amazing website. I have arthritis which is now well-controlled with anti-TNF drugs, but my feet are misshapen and finding comfortable shoes is difficult. I did eventually find a good pair of walking boots, but during the 187 mile walk, developed shin-splints. When I returned home I was horrified at having difficulty walking again. I used a walking stick a lot in my early twenties and though I’ve done much to claim a positive image of myself as a disabled woman I have a vehement hatred of any sort of shoe (thin-soled; narrow; high-heeled etc.) which impairs the incredible physical pleasure that is being able to walk.
I shall admit here that when I returned home from the 187 mile walk, all thoughts of The Slow Wardrobe momentarily left my mind in favour of the pressing priority to find an enabling pair of shoes. These shoes are designed to stop you from heel-striking; they force you to walk on the middle-part of your foot. I saw them and instantly felt a deep rush of pleasure at the fun I could have in such a pair of shoes. Light on the foot, a dream to walk in, able to accommodate my misshapen feet and insanely bright in colour, I loved them at once. I actually had a nightmare last week that I was mugged for them, and I woke up crying real tears.
However my insanely fun trainers do not fit The Slow Wardrobe ethos at all, as I have no knowledge of the supply chain that lies behind their making, and they are made completely of synthetic textiles! I have some boots from the Natural Show Store which I have had for years and on which the zipper is broken, and a place in which I intend to have these mended, but shoes pose a very particular problem for me in terms of The Slow Wardrobe. I loved Tom’s post about mending some old leather shoes of his, but the shoes which empower and enable me to walk – soft-soled; non-leather; soft enough to accommodate a passel of wonky toes; – are uniquely resistant to a culture of repair and mending. For example the shop in which I bought my MBTs (another expensive set of trainers, essentially) have explained to me that there really is nowhere they know of where specialist sports shoes can be sent for mending. What are my options here? I don’t know. It’s a pressing future question for The Slow Wardrobe and for my feet. For now, all I can do is maintain these shoes for as long as possible and search for options which will work for my feet and which contain a higher proportion of natural materials!
The shoes are not the only failure of this year, and the others are also connected with the 187 mile walk, in August.
I’d had grand plans to invent an entire WALK 2012 wardrobe to wear on the walk; hand-knitted base-layers, lightweight sweaters; a host of thick, wool walking socks etc. – but then planned badly, failed to allocate adequate time to the tasks associated with making such things, and then had various giant, all-consuming work-projects on the go – all of which meant that I had not made any of these things when the time of the walk arrived.
I did buy some t-shirts and cotton shirts as I was concerned about how I would fare walking up to 20 miles per day with a 100% WOOL outfit on in August! I do not feel good about these purchases – all High Street purchases, all in the sale, all cotton.
However for every night of WALK 2012 I was saved by wool socks and my icebreaker merino base-layer (vest and long-johns). I own one icebreaker vest, 2 pairs of icebreaker pants, one pair of icebreaker long-johns, and one long-sleeved ice-breaker crewe neck base-layer. They are the things I wear most in my whole wardrobe, recently supplemented with a couple of pairs of Falke soft merino tights.
Icebreaker are a laudable company and their stuff is extremely long-lasting and traceable, and their ethical stance on land usage, animal welfare etc. is excellent. However I am troubled on my dependence on wool from the other side of the world in my wardrobe, and wonder whether it is going to be possible and/or desirable to invent some wardrobe staples from wool grown closer to home.
One of my biggest inspirations in this regard are the Nether Garments knitted by Carolina and blogged here. She made long legwarmers that are essentially giant, wearable swatches. Colourful, practical, and I expect pretty warm, this is the kind of Slow Wardrobe staple item that I aspire to creating! I did begin some such leggings when in Estonia, but the tiny gauge size required to make my Estonian wool look nice is just too soul destroying for words. They shall become mittens I think. Or legwarmers, but I don’t have it in me to make leggings at a gauge of nearly 200 sts per round for the ANKLE. I said SLOW Wardrobe, not GLACIAL!
However, although Estonia crushed my dreams of making Muhu-inspired leggings in brightly-coloured Estonian yarns, I did meet a lot of sheep there, and am a few stages closer to fulfilling my objective to knit something from sheep I have personally met! Meeting Anneli’s Native Estonian sheep, (all hers come from Kihnu, though there are also native Estonian sheep found on other islands and in the flocks of other shepherds) I obtained enough yarn in 4 shades of Estonian wool for a pretty major design – for a truly classic item for The Slow Wardrobe – that I cannot wait to begin knitting.
I also learnt to spin while in Estonia. And I shared my philosophy of The Slow Wardrobe in various workshop contexts, where I was encouraged to continue exploring this theme.
When I came home I was so inspired that I spun enough yarn to make my first handspun thing, a pair of fingerless gloves, the pattern is by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas:
One of the greatest successes of The Slow Wardrobe is connected with my stay in Estonia, actually. My favourite Slow Wardrobe item to date is my 100% WOOL uniform, created for my one-month-long residency in Estonia exploring the idea of a cultural wool-exchange.
It is made from two very simple sewing patterns which I feel I have pretty much mastered – The skirt is Vogue V8424 and the tunic/top is one I’ve made a load of times – Butterick B5217.
It is made from 100% WOOL fabric purchased at Filkin’s Wool Mill.
I am proud of my neat slip-stitches just inside the bodice, and the use of a random 50cm of rowan fabric purchased years ago as a source of bias-binding and lining materials.
I love the french-seams I utilised inside the top.
But am less enamoured with the rubbish job I did with this zipper.
And I am yet to properly sew all the bias binding inside the skirt on properly…
One realisation about adopting The Slow Wardrobe as a philosophy, is that one’s clothes are never done. I have an interminable pile of to-do clothes-related tasks.
I feel I need to shift gears so that the gratification of shopping for new clothes is replaced by the gratification of restoring or mending the things I already have. Like this dress, found at Frock and Roll, which fits me like a glove, and split right up to my arse the other day when I was looking for something underneath the bed!
Sometimes the acquisition (or creation) of new things feels appropriate to the ethos of The Slow Wardrobe, however. My Layter jacket is a good case in point. I am very proud of this garment – it’s one of the actually SMART items which I own – and in spite of its sheepy palette does not appear to my eyes to be MURKY, but rather elegant and understated. I love the construction which I developed for making this celebration of sheep and that it uses so many yarns created by Sue Blacker, whose work with WOOL I deeply admire.
Layter is the first, I hope, of many original Felicity Ford knitting designs. One of my regrets for the first year of The Slow Wardrobe is how few of my other ideas have become finished things.
Here is an amazing, 100% WOOL thing, not yet finished.
And another one…
However The Slow Wardrobe is just that, and I have been developing this project in tandem with a whole slew of other art projects; at times I’ve felt that the most abused resource in the whole enterprise is my own energy.
…At its lowest points, year one of The Slow Wardrobe has been about being an artist with not very much money, working on too many different projects at once, and not having time to mend socks. At such times I have felt badly-dressed, barely-presentable, and skint.
At its highest points, year one of The Slow Wardrobe has been about the deep pleasure of exploring fashion, the meaning of clothes, and the politics surrounding the act of dressing myself. I am proud to be a maker of WOOLLEN BROOCHES – an accessory that showcases the beauty of woven woollen textiles to fantastic advantage – and to have invented a stylish jacket that celebrates the colours of our beautiful British Sheep breeds.
The truth is somewhere between these extremes… and I am blessed to have a beautiful, thoughtful, supportive partner who is joining in with my slow-wardrobe ethos, and who cares not if I am clad in falling apart PRIMARK clothes, as long as I am smiling.
And that counts for a lot.
I am happy I made a uniform which will last me for years to come, (though I do need to fix the pockets, the zipper and the bias-binding inside). And I am sad that I didn’t finish this:
It is a toile for a dress, to be made in high quality tweed sent to me as a generous gift, by Kate. I have not ‘fixed’ the toile yet, much less cut the tweed for the actual dress!
But these are all things that shall come to pass; the ultimate lesson for The Slow Wardrobe has been that this is about fashion as story and process, and that it’s called The Slow Wardrobe because it is slow…
I have not produced produced as many clothes in a traceable and sustainable way as I perhaps might have liked – shoes and summer wear pose me the greatest problems in this regard;
I am pleased with what I have repurposed/salvaged from local charity shops and vintage stores.
The things I have made – a pair of hand-spun mitts; a jacket; a wool uniform; a hand-knit speaker system; a baby blanket and a scarf – are all deeply pleasing to me because I understand something about where the wool is from and in many cases, which breed, which mill, and sometimes even which sheep. My favourite achievement of all those items is The Knitted speaker system, because it represents everything I believe in when it comes to WOOL, however it is a wardrobe FAIL since I cannot wear it!
Handknitted speaker system!
I have not yet knitted with wool from an individual sheep I have personally met, but I have knit more with wool from flocks I know this year than in any other and this is a correlation which I hope to only build on in future years of The Slow Wardrobe…
I have passed on several handknits to people whom I know will derive more pleasure from them than I ever can; my best friend Dorrie now has my Tatami and my Rover stole and I hope they are keeping her warm and cosy during her pregnancy.
I feel I have done much this year to promote 100% WOOL through the production of creative objects and items, though I should add to this list that projects such as curating the WOVEMBER blog posts might count towards this aim for The Slow Wardrobe in future years!
As the principal WOVEMBER blog-post organiser, I am satisfied that I have written about wool plenty this year!
Aims for next year?
My principal aims for The Slow Wardrobe next year are:
to make more things out of WOOL
to explore SLOW WARDROBE approaches to footwear, and summer clothing
to continue to build WOVEMBER as an online, annual celebration of wool
to finish some of the handknitted things I am working on!
to meet more sheep and shepherds
to do more to promote WOOL
to escape MURKFAKTOR in next year’s Slow Wardrobe additions
Alas, the last Wovember Words for Wovember2012. Wovember hopes you enjoyed reading all the snippets on growing, harvesting, processing, working with, and wearing wool as much as we had gathering them for you – and that it has peaked your interest enough to go and find one or two of these books for yourself to read them cover to cover. We will end Wovember Words with two quotes; the first comes from Elizabeth Zimmermann:
I reconnoitered in my wool-room yesterday; it is full of possibilites for the New Year. Another Aran perhaps, to start off with? Should it blow tradition and be hooded? Six pairs of socks for the Old Man? His “Woodsman’s Sock” shelf is groaning, but the ranks of the lighter socks are thinning. Cushion-covers? What a chance for experiment with color-patterns and Aran curlicues. A shawl with a ten-inch lace border, and perhaps design the border myself? I never did desin a lace-pattern. A huge afghan to keep one’s knees warm while being knitted? A lace-edging for a valance, why not? A revolutionaroy pot-handler? Hey! a Knitted Icebox for camping and picnic?
By this time next year some of these will have been achieved, and some scorned and abandoned. Some as yet undreamed-of whims will have taken shape. I’m ready for them; my mind is open, my wool-room full of wool, my needles posed, my brain spinning like a Catherine-wheel. There are plenty of pencils – I think – and where did I see that old block of squared paper?
My words, such good fortune. I can only hope the same for you.
-Elizabeth Zimmermann: Knitter’s Almanac; projects for each month of the year, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY
The scond quote comes from a Q&A with Emily Chamelin earlier during Wovember, and for some reason really resonated with Tom personally. Emily on being mindful of where your wool comes from:
I think it is so important for fiber users to really be aware of what it takes to produce the wool they love, and to learn that EVERY fleece must be harvested by hand by a skilled crafts person. I love my job so much and love to see people enjoying wool in all its glorious products!
As you know, our theme this year for WOVEMBER has been ‘Closing the Gap’.
We wanted to do this because we believe it is wrong that textiles derived from oil are allowed to appropriate the pleasant associations of WOOL for their marketing strategies. We also feel that the more information there is in the public domain re: where WOOL comes from, the harder it is for us consumers to be misled regarding the composition of our clothes.
We also wanted to highlight the work, culture, history and traditions that make WOOL such a distinctive and exciting textile. WOVEMBER has been lucky this year to have some thoughts from several shepherds. As the people closest to the source of WOOL, their comments on Wearing Wool seem especially fitting to a ‘Closing the Gap’ theme. In one of the quotes we have here, the shepherd is wearing a sweater (mostly) made from the wool of one individual sheep!
My early yarns were all from my own sheep, before I bought The Natural Fibre Company and I still have some (I have been designing an updated version of a Guernsey-style tunic for around 8 years, which is the standing joke in the office).
The difficult bit is that most of our stuff lasts – and is intended to last – for a very long time!
I regret to say that I have and regularly wear garments which are over 10 years old!
I have been thinking of suggesting that people could consider the cost of our yarns as an investment, based on the number of years they will last compared to non wool yarns – so yarn years of possible use by a careful owner can justify the price.
Sue Blacker with her sheep, photos © Douglas Bence
August 14, 2012 – A Future Shepherdess ?
Sporting a black Ouessant beret and holding Taygète, a black Ouessant ewe lamb, it looks like my sister Pam might just be a future shepherdess !
Only time will tell !
Originally published on the Spinning Shepherd blog here, photo and words © Diane Falck
I bought this sweater 20 years ago at a farmers market in Washington D.C. and I wear it nearly every day in the winter. I wear it to feed the sheep and work around the farm, or when I’m running errands. It’s almost like a coat for me.
When I first bought it, it wasn’t particularly soft but it has softened up a bit over the years. Most remarkably, it hasn’t pilled the way sweaters knit from softer yarns are apt to.
Originally published on the Juniper Moon Farm blog here, photo and words © Susan Gibbs
Just a simple twill with random stripes in warp and weft but it makes a really great knee blanket. Last night I used it to good effect here as the wind was whistling round under the doors despite our crackling log fire and our slate floor is cold as ice. A thin layer of soft Bowmont kept me toasty warm round the legs. The miracle to me is how something that can keep you so warm doesn’t cook you when the temperature rises. Sheep do not fry in their own lanolin when they are in half fleece growth here in the summer. 40-50mm of Bowmont Merino on their skin seems to act as insulation against the sun rather than a heating unit. Wool’s insulation properties are amazing. It’s clever stuff!
Originally published on the Devon Fine Fibres blog here, photo and words © Lesley Prior
Despite popular misconception the dress was extremely comfortable to wear. Although the dress is heavy, once adorned the weight is evenly spread and not at all noticeable. I also didn’t feel the heat as the dress just deflected the suns rays in much a similar way that it would protect and self-regulate the sheep in the field.
Photos and words © Louise Fairburn
Jester is one of our oldest Jacobs and a personal favorite. The sweater is homegrown, handspun and handknit out of Jester’s wool. Well, except for the last two inches up around the neck where I ran out of his white and had to splice in a little bit of one of his adopted family, Annabelly.
Mia – a lilac Jacob from Sara’s flock
The sweater turned out great. Everything blocked out just the way I’d hoped – Gotta love wool.
I tried to pick color patterns that reflected his special wide sweeping “jester hat” horns.
And I used a duplicate stitch to add a touch of dark gray to the big areas of light gray. Fun and easy to do.
Thank you Jester. I love your sweater.
Originally published here on the Punkin’s Patch blog, words and image © Sara Dunham
Kate Lynch joins WOVEMBER this evening, to talk about the ultimate house & garden WOOL project – dyeing with plants (perhaps from the garden?) to create woollen textiles for the home!
Making it meaningful: Thoughts on using natural dyes this Wovember.
Wovember highlights and promotes wool as a valuable natural resource. It is a versatile material which is the embodiment of quality and craftsmanship throughout all of the processes involved from gathering wool from sheep to the hand produced garments we knit and weave. Why should it end there? The dying process is an important aspect of design and industry, changing wool from a raw material into a useable colour palette for woollen creations and introducing pattern work and colour schemes.
It is important to consider where the garments we wear come from and how they are produced. Wool is a beautiful natural fibre, yet the yarns and clothing that are available to us commercially are often treated with chemical dyes and processes which add to pollution of rivers world-wide. Whist this offers the designer-maker and consumer with an unlimited colour palette to choose from, there are other more sustainable methods that we should consider.
Wovember has highlighted how the skill behind hand spun process can bring out the better qualities of wool. Working with natural dyes could only further enhance the natural qualities of wool in my opinion and it has been said that although subtle, natural dyes are ‘alive’.
‘They change and move not just with the course of the fabric, but through the passage of time’
(Richard Maybe, ‘Plants with a Purpose’)
The natural world has a lot of resources to offer, including a vast ever-changing palette of natural colours which can be accessed with a little time, patience and curiosity. Since ancient history natural dyeing techniques were perfected and industrialised in complex processes to attain desirable and consistent colours. Indigo has been used in the Indus Valley since 2500BC, the blue from woad became a more commonly used during the Elizabethan times, with ancient origins as a war paint, and the original ‘Robin Hood’ colour ‘Lincoln Green’ was obtained from a process involving weld and woad. During the 1800’s Natural dyes were replaced with chemical processes, and basic knowledge of attaining the best colours from natural resources and the tried and tested processes of centuries were lost.
The heavy industry created by today’s consumerism, and the resulting environmental impact stems from Industrial Revolution. From an ecological perspective, the use of natural dyeing processes is less damaging to the environment and makes use of readily available and replenishable natural resources. There are many links between the current handcrafted revolution which we are in the midst of here in the UK, and the backlash that some artists and designers had at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Artist and Designer William Morris was ahead of his time and like many makers, craftspeople and businesses today, he turned his back on industry and the mass-produced, veering towards what would now be seen as more sustainable and skill-based solutions to meet his design needs.
William Morris experimented with natural dyes in his printing, rug making and tapestry weaving, perhaps to give further context to his work by re-connecting with nature, which his abundant designs reflected. Some of his dyeing attempts at Queen Square on 17th November 1896 offer a seasonal insight into his process and practice and suggest some of the resources available at this time of year:
“…I was at Kelmscott the other day in that beautiful and cold weather and betwixt the fishing, I cut a handful of polar twigs and boiled them and dyed a lock of wool a very good yellow: This would be useful if fast, for the wool was unmordanted.”
(‘William Morris by Himself’, Gillian Naylor)
This is a lovely extract describing Morris’s casual experimentation with natural dyes during a leisurely November day. Here is also a good tip that you can use poplar twigs to obtain a ‘good yellow’ dye. It also illustrates the simplest form of natural dyeing; boiling the material with a skein of wool.
“Poplar Twigs in Autumn” picture © Kate Lynch and used with her kind permission
Almost any plant will dye wool or cloth with some effect and there are many plants which will give fairly fast colours without the use of chemical fixatives, called mordants. The seasons provide their own ever-changing palette of colours and plants can be gathered whilst on a walk which is a fun and creative process that connects us with our local landscapes. In her book ‘Dyes from Natural Sources’, Anne Dyer suggests that “First experiments should be with a handful of anything that is on its way to the dustbin, bonfire, or compost heap”. She goes on to explain that in Autumn, some plants and leaves keep their dye colour after death or leaf fall, but others such as walnuts lose it very quickly. She also suggests that ‘the late colours are often redder and richer than those in summer’. In the winter, twigs evergreens and some biennial and perennial plants are still available.
“Hawthorn Twigs” picture © Kate Lynch and used with her kind permission
“Fallen Oak Leaves” picture © Kate Lynch and used with her kind permission
Some suggestions of plants and leaves that could be gathered and used for dyeing wool this Wovember include fallen oak leaves (which will give a greenish gold), Hawthorn twigs (will give a pinkish tone), and Poplar twigs (Which William Morris obtained a good yellow from), along with a few more seasonal suggestions from Anne Dyer:
“Twigs are to be pounded and soaked and gathered in the winter. Some plants give the same colour as the mature leaves. Try ash, hazel, wild cherry and rose. Poplars give a better colour. Gather material before it is being used.”
Many of the books on the subject of natural dying contain different recipes, and conflicting tales. A basic recipe is outlined by Richard Maybe in ‘Plants with a Purpose’ states that you should use 100g of plant material to 5 litres if water for small jobs, and suggests the quickest method is to place the dyestuff in a muslin bag and simmer along with the item to be dyed in water in an enamel or steel pan, until you have ‘the colour you want’. Natural dyes can be obtained from cutting fresh plant material, or buying prepared and dried material at any time of the year. Other sources include garden plants, vegetables, and items found in the kitchen such as turmeric, carrot tops and onion skins if you are being experimental.
The uncertainty of casting precious thread into unknown colours can put some people off but the best approach is to be experimental and realise that your outcome will be unique. The colours obtained can depend on the time of year, location, and growing conditions and one plant may not yield the same colour as another of the same species. Outcomes can be less frustrating and more interesting when we stop trying to manipulate nature and work with what is available and being offered. Another tip is to work in small batches, dyeing enough skeins of wool for your project together in the same dye bath. Even if the colour you have reached is not the desired outcome, at least the colour you have gained will be the same shade throughout your project. The type of container used to boil the plant and material in can also have an impact on colour, so stainless steel pans are suggested. I see all of these variables as part of the fun of experimentation and the colours obtained from your pickings will create a narrative specific to you and your garment.
Most plant dyes need a chemical fixative to make them ‘fast’ and this can also boost or change a colour during the process. William Morris seemed disappointed that he had not used a mordant to ‘fix’ the ‘good yellow’ he achieved with poplar twigs. However, in his book ‘Plants with a purpose’ Richard Maybe states that ‘if you are prepared to enjoy rather than resent the delicate fading results when you don’t use metallic fixatives (mordants) and to confine yourself to items like scarves and socks , you will only need very small quantities of plant material.’ I am interested in the fading results and changing colours that might occur and small garments could even be re-dyed using material available at the time, keeping them ever-changing and interesting like the seasons! Batch production becomes difficult because of the vast amount of plant material needed to extract strong enough colours. However, if you are working on a bigger project, or want the colour to be fixed, the recipes suggest using alum with cream of tartar as a ‘mordant’.
Dyeing consistent colours on a larger scale is not easy or reliable. William Morris spent untold hours experimenting for the dyeing of wool for his magnificent rugs. This was a more industrious process in comparison to his leisurely pickings of poplar twigs. He worked with the help of Thomas Wardle in Leek, Staffordshire. Frustrating accounts such as ‘I lost my temper in the dye-house’, highlight the uncertainties associated with dyeing with natural dyes on a larger scale, which lead ideas that ‘I don’t suppose the dyeing of our wools will ever be a profitable business to anyone, and no doubt it will be a troublesome one’. However, through determination and patience Morris was largely able to obtain satisfactory colours. From Leek in 1896 he wrote: “I am dyeing yellows and reds: the yellows are very easy to get, and so are a lot of shades of salmon and flesh-colour and buff and orange; my chief difficulty is in getting a blood red…” (Extracts taken from William Morris by Himself, Gillian Naylor).
“William Morris and his woven woollen rugs created using natural dyes” picture © Kate Lynch and used with her kind permission
There is no doubt that the time, craftsmanship and effort William Morris put into dyeing the wool for his magnificent woven carpets and tapestries paid off. His choice of natural materials such as wool and natural dyes gives his work has greater meaning and context which has stood the test of time. Some of his rugs can currently be seen at the Tate Exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde’ which runs until 13th January 2013.
It seems appropriate that delicate natural dyes should be used to colour wool that has undergone such skilled processes to transform it to a useable yarn with unique properties, however natural dyeing is perhaps best suited to individuals experimenting at home and when knitting and weaving one-off items. By choosing to work with natural dyes we can take the processes back to basics to create truly unique and more valuable outcomes; with meaning behind the making. There are many books on the subject and it is worth looking up the process up in more detail if you decide to do some natural dyeing this Wovember and beyond.
“Research books” picture © Kate Lynch and used with her kind permission
Bibliography and suggested books:
‘Spinning, Dyeing and weaving’ Penny Walsh, Self-sufficiency series, New Holland Publishers 2009.
‘The Craft of Natural Dyeing’ Jenny Dean, Search Press 2005.
‘A Dyers Manual’ Jill Goodwin, Pelham Books 1985.
‘Plants with a Purpose: A guide to the everyday use of wild plants’ Richard Maybe, Collins 1977.
‘Dyes from Natural sources’ Anne Dyer, G.Bell and Sons Ltd 1976.
William Morris Extracts from:
‘William Morris by Himself: Designs and writings, Edited by Gillian Naylor, Time Warner Books, 2004
The copyright for all the content held here on the Wovember site lies with the original content creators. Therefore every post has a separate copyright holder - always attributed in the text - and the posts which are not specifically attributed to an individual were created by one of the members of Team Wovember: Kate Davies, Felicity Ford or Tom Van Deijnin. For information on reusing any content found on this site, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wovember is the idea of Kate Davies and Felicity Ford. Established in November 2011, it is both a celebration of wool and a campaign for clearer labelling and descriptions of garments. In 2012 Tom van Deijnen joined TEAM WOVEMBER.
You can contact us at email@example.com
Wovember is about showing our collective appreciation of wool by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and by celebrating its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. Through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of what makes wool different, and jointly create a force for wool appreciation strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed.
In 2012 we have themed the blog posts for the month of November around “closing the gap” between producers and consumers of yarn.
We are exploring the labour and processes which turn real WOOL into textiles and clothes through a series of blog-posts from people who work with it. The idea behind “closing the gap” is that it’s not possible for garments to be misleadingly marketed and described if the public are fully informed about what goes into producing them.
To that end we have curated blog posts on the themes of "Growing Wool", "Harvesting Wool", "Processing Wool", "Working with Wool" and "Wearing Wool". Tom van Deijnen has also curated a series of quotes from texts about wool which he has spread across the month as "WOVEMBER WORDS".