Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

th.jpeg

The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

IMG_0891.jpg

Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

An Art That Stops Time.

There are some arts that have continued on throughout the centuries. The tools and the techniques have adapted to incorporate modern technology and materials, but the process, ingenuity, imagination, and quality have remained the same.

There are not many items today that haven’t been machine made and computer programed. Even the art that adorns our homes has likely been mass produced and bares no uniqueness.

In the 17th century Louis XIV set up a special place for the art of tapestry weaving to be preserved and the education of this inspiring talent to be continued. Today in Paris, this institute still exists in the same place, and is know as the Gobelins Manufactory.

humanity and soul.jpg

In the video that will be shared below, these words struck deeply. How often can we say that we take the “time to do things with humanity and soul”?

As you watch the processes that it takes to create a woven tapestry, you will be amazed that this still happens. Great care is taken to the designing of the art, hand dyeing yarn, storing the weft, setting up the warp, and in the weaving process. A single tapestry takes many years to be completed. The weaver is involved in every aspect of the making of a tapestry, and when finished, it is a celebrated work of art.

a weaver.jpg

The talent that the weaving artist has is amazing. Not only to be able to complete the work and processes required, but in being able to interpret the drawing into a woven work of art.

Take the time to watch this video and witness the crafting of the ancient art of tapestry making and the skill of the artists.

 

Be a Butterfly

Heidi

A Re-fashion for Spring

All winter long I had on my yarn-crafting list to make myself a new wool hat. At one point, hoping to encourage myself in that endeavor, I even threw out all of my old acyrlic hats. Even my most favorite that often got compliments.

Most of the kids got a wool hat, and my husband a month ago was awarded his that was made from Handspun pygora/alpaca yarn that I processed and spun myself. (I will have to snap a picture when he is home)

Alas, spring has arrived and I never did make one for myself. With just a slight detour to my original ambitions, I picked up a crochet hook and whipped out this cute spring hat just in time for my birthday:

What’s even more exciting is that I made it with yarn that I reclaimed from a thifted cotton sweater! It is actually two different yarns, one purple and one blue, and I re-spun them  with my spinning wheel and then plied them together. This created a really unique colored yarn. It is marled, yet from a distance the finished fabric appears to be a solid color.

image

The blue reclaimed yarn in this project is the same that was used in the needlepoint lace project and the edging on the crochet towel. The difference being, that the yarn for the needlepoint project and towel edging, was from the short pieces and this worsted re-spun cotton was made from the long continuous lengths from the body of these sweaters.

image

The accent yarn for this hat is reclaimed sari silk that I bought from Darn Good Yarn. It made a great piece of fabric for stabilizing the brim of this hat. It was not a part of the original pattern, but it was too floppy to hold the shape I desired, so I duplicated the brim section of the pattern and then sewed it to the underside. The reclaimed silk yarn really jazzed up this newsboy styled cap!

For a little extra flare and accent I picked out some thrifted vintage buttons, and created a cute little flower.

image

This was a fun project to make, and it was exciting to be able to use all recycled/reclaimed materials to create something new and unique. I can put on this hat and know that no one has the same one.

Recyling and reclaiming the material that is available to us is a great way to be wise stewards over those things. A disliked sweater doesn’t need to be trash, it can become beautiful yarn for a fun springtime hat, trim in a towel, lace edging on a pocket, the options are limitless.

Be a Butterfly

Heidi

Who Made That?

How do we get from Fiber to Fabric?

IMG_1426.jpg

 

 

I can tell you, that what I have learned about the fiber arts these last couple of years has blown. my. mind. When I was just a consumer-crafter that bought yarn at the store and then put it on some needles, the only thought about the handmade process was that something was created from yarn or fabric using various tools and the skill of the crafter.

It goes way, way, waaaay further back than that, before the crafter designs, before the materials are bought, before it resembles anything that is useful. The process that brings the fiber to the point of a yarn or fabric is filled with many steps. The vocabulary alone while learning about the fiber arts is astounding:

FIBER VOCAB.jpg

This is not a complete list! Many of the tools, techniques, and materials have their own set of vocabulary and processes.

Just so that you can get a glimpse at each general step in bringing raw fiber from its natural state on the animal (or in the field) to a fabric that you wear or use in other ways, I have chosen a few videos that showcase part of the process.Words can only explain so much and too much technical stuff can be boring, so I have tried to keep them short. Keep in mind there are zillions (maybe not that many-but a lot!) of ways to harvest fibers, process them, and produce textiles. What is outlined here is just a few possibilities out of many:

Natalie from Namaste Farms can shear an Alpaca all by herself!

 

 

Even when shearing our goats, we like to have a helping hand.

IMG_1042.jpg

(I should mention, that first you have to catch the animal and that can be a challenge in itself! Natalie has a good video showing her technique for that as well. We have yet to master it….)

Once animal fiber has been harvested it needs to go through a process called skirting where you remove the edges of the fleece that gets the most icky and bleached by the sun. The skirt is not desirable for garments or other things that should be soft, but it is great for rug making and other crafts! During this process vegetable matter (vm-hay, grass, sticks etc.) is also picked out as much as possible.

A lot of raw fibers are sold at this stage to the spinner or crafter. When they receive it, the next step is to wash it:

This video from Blue Mountain Handcrafts is one of my favorites because she washes several different types and I enjoy learning from Beth, she is great.

After the washing step is when some decisions are made on how to prep it for spinning or other crafting. Some, may blend it with other fibers, use a drum carder, use hand cards, or just hand pick it until it is fluffy and ready for use.

IMG_0857.jpg

close up of hand carders and alpaca fiber

Last year I wrote an article on our sister-site: Twisted & Plied, that overviewed how I process Alpaca fiber from washing to hand cards to spinning. Read it, or just continue on with the video presentation-the next videos share some of the same info as in this article:

From Wool to Wear: a look at processing Alpaca

If you only take time to watch one of these videos in this post I suggest it is this next one. Lois is a hoot! She teaches us all about traditional spinning from different countries and dresses in period costume for the videos. After this one if you have the time, watch some of her other videos, she has very interesting history to share!

Once the fiber is processed and prepped it can be handspun or machine spun. I stumbled upon this short video of a Tibetan woman spinning with a support spindle. She tells her interviewer that it is so simple there is nothing to explain. But then he explained to her that:

we have forgotton this ancient art of hand spinning wool as we do other chores.

After that she was willing to share. There are lots of other spinning techniques and tools that will have to be looked at in another post sometime, so for now enjoy this “ancient art of handspinning wool” as one example:

Here is a picture of my spinning wheel:

IMG_0843.jpg

To bring things to a close, we will end with this talented Fastest Knitter in North America. Speed knitting is a real competition! Not one that I will probably ever strive for, but wow-those who do have got some real talent!

(Yes! She is knitting her husband a sweater out of their dogs fur! Some really interesting things get spun up in the fiber art realm!)

To get yarn transformed into a fabric it can be knitted,crocheted, or woven on a loom. These processes and others can happen with hand or machine or a combination. Most of what we wear now is done by machine, but handicraft artist are making a come back. Many handmade items are now easily found and purchased online.

IMG_0428.jpg

every time I see these booties I knit for my last baby (who is two now), I want to cast-on and make some more! They are so cute!

There was a lot to take in as far as information and videos to watch in this article. The goal was to bring an awareness at just how much work goes into that handmade item you bought or was given as a gift as it transformed from fiber to fabric. Or, even if you were the crafter, hopefully it gave you insight into the effort that comes from others to prep your fiber of choice before you work your own magic.

 

If this were a book I could have easily delved into the raising of the animals, the growing of the plants and how they are processed. But it’s not-yet. We did not even discuss the behind the scenes designers who dye fibers, make blends, and write patterns.

Thanks for being a friend!

And thank you to all the shepherds, farmers, ranchers, shearers, pickers, blenders, spinners, designers, knitters, crocheters, weavers-fiber artists every where for sharing your talents with us!

Heidi

I built a support spindle from stuff around the house! Click here for the tutorial!

Intro to Natural Fibers

IMG_3816.jpg

The word “natural” constitutes existing without man. It was and is provided to us through this great planet Earth or the creatures that walk upon it.

We have rightfully invented and manipulated other materials and all has its purpose either as a learning tool or a useful product. However, should we replace all that is natural?

Natural Fibers let our skin breathe. Our skin is the largest organ on or in our body. We should take care to put the best quality of fibers next to our skin. Many natural fibers also have anti-bacterial properties that benefit and protect our bodies.

IMG_3815.jpg

There are lots of sustainable resources for natural fibers. Several species of sheep give us wool. The most common being Merino because it is the softest against our skin.

IMG_3841.jpg

Goats produce mohair (which is most often used in fabrics that cover furniture and is also commonly the choice for lovely doll hair.). Cashmere also comes from goats-who doesn’t love the feel a luxurious cashmere sweater?

IMG_1399.jpg

 

Alpaca, Llama, Angora Rabbit, Camel, Yak, the silk worm-the list goes on there are many breeds of animals that produce useful natural fibers for our use.

IMG_1788.jpg

Plants also give a variety of fiber that can be used in textiles. Cotton is by far the most known and popular. Linen, which comes from the flax plant is another popular light weight fabric. Hemp, Bamboo, and Nettle are other plant sources. These fibers are usually best used for lighter garments, whereas the wools tend to give warmth and water resistance.

IMG_0785.jpg

All of these natural resources produce wonderful varieties of fabrics for our use. I am a firm believer that when we make a point to use the creations that God put here for us in their appointed purposes-we give glory and thanks to Him. We also allow for those creatures and plants to fulfill the measure of their creation.

 

Just for fun:

Take a look at the clothing in your closet. Touch your clothing, as you do, create two piles: those that feel good when you touch them, and those that don’t appeal as much. Then take a look at the tags on those items. I am willing to say that you will probably find the things you liked the feel of most are made up of a natural fiber. You might even be surprised at what is not made of a natural fiber.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Our little farmstead grows natural fibers on goats! Learn about it here.

Now available: Natural Fibers 101 Workshop  email knittyheidi@gmail.com to learn more about these fibers, see and touch them in person and learn how they are processed.