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Idaho Fiber Mill Natural Living Woolspiration

Woolspiration: A Color Odyssey

January 15, 2015
natural dye club

For the Christmas holiday we spent a couple weeks at our ranch in Idaho. As some of you know, we converted the old milk parlor into our dye studio and this was our first time really settling into the space and soaking up the atmosphere. We had a big project on our hands, the first Natural Dye Club and the experience was amazing.

When we initially came up with the idea, a seasonal quarterly club sounded great, getting to experiment with all the seasonal plants and wonderful fibers from small farms we’ve come to know and others we have yet to discover. As much fun as it was, I’ll be honest and say I’m looking forward to a little warmer weather the next go around. Sub zero temperatures created for a “cool” challenge, lots of layers and plenty of hot coffee with egg nog. However, nothing beats the surreal walk from the cabin to the dye studio with the silence of a snow covered pasture and fresh flakes falling. It was yet another thing in life that’s made me truly thankful for the warmth of this thing we call wool.

I really wish you all could have been there and soaked up every moment as we did our best to do. So we created this little film, A Color Odyssey, to give you a small glimpse into part of our journey and the inspiration behind and within what we do, in hopes it will also inspire you, to experiment, take on challenges and dreams, and to find joy in the beauty that surrounds you.

 

 

 

Knitting Natural Living Woolful Podcast

Episode 4: Matt Gilbert & Melody Hoffman – Nomadic knitting, self-sustainability, shearing and building a fiber mill

December 16, 2014

I’m very excited to share the fourth episode of the Woolful podcast. Today we get to meet two fiber folk that have inspired many of us in many different ways. Matt Gilbert a shearer and founder of the Mendocino Wool and Fiber Mill and Melody Hoffman of Mandarine’s.

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Sponsor: This episode is sponsored by Yarn, a charming online and local yarn shop based in Eureka, California. Yarn was created by Sunni Schrivner who has a dedication for natural fibers and supporting local yarns. Make sure to visit Yarn in person when on the coast in hum bolt county and online at yarn-fun.com.

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Fiber folk 1: Melody is a passionate knitter and maker, with new aspirations as a knitwear designer. Originally from France, she now lives is Latvia where she focuses her days on knitting and self-sustainability. You can follow her journey on her blog at bmandarines.squarespace.com and on Instagram @bmandarines.

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Man on the Street: For this week’s “Man on the Street” I asked a handful of fiber enthusiasts to answer the following question, “If you could raise a flock of sheep in the breed of your choice, which it be?” We had many amazing replies from Melissa (@hey_lady_hey), Jennifer (@jaykay_knits), Andrea (@dreareneeknits), Madeline (hollertree.tumblr.com), Nikki (@woolenviolet) and Sonja (@atreebytheriver)

Fiber folk 2: When it comes to gumption, tenacity and spirit, I’m not sure many come close to having as much as our next guest, Matt Gilbert. For over a decade Matt has been a shearer in Northern California, witnessing parts of the area that very few ever see, while gathering a lifetimes worth of wooly knowledge. A couple years ago he began building the Mendocino Wool and Fiber Mill of which he hopes to launch very soon. You can find and follow Matt’s journey on Facebook at Facebook.com/mendowool.

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Giveaway: The winner of last week’s giveaway, is….Charlene, grandknit on Ravelry. You’ve won 3 skeins of Snoqualmie Valley Yarn, naturally dyed with black walnut. Congratulations!

The giveaway this week is another special one, our first guest Melody’s Pinecone and Mulberry hat pattern along with two skeins of Quince and Company’s Owl Tweet. To enter this giveaway, visit the giveaway post on Instagram @woolful and tag a friend in the comments. You can also enter by leaving a comment below.

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Awhile back I had an idea, to help bring the focus back to smaller producers, those concentrating their efforts on building domestic production (to whichever country they belong) and trying to do so consciously in regards to the environment, animal welfare, economy, and more. This is a lot of why I started this podcast, to give these people a platform to simply share their stories, and by doing so, inspire others to both support and take action. Whether that be as simple as buying a skein of yarn from a place they could trace the source to, becoming a shearer or even building their own mill. As a pairing to the podcast, I opened an online shop that focuses on supporting single farm and small producer yarns. We started with Cormo from Ton of Wool and then introduced a variety of handspun yarns, bred, raised, shorn, scoured and spun by an incredible sheep shearer and someone who happens to be my neighbor in Idaho. I’m humbled to be working with these amazing fiber folk and am excited to  introduce a handful of new yarns in the shop over the next few months, all with their unique story and purpose. If you’re interested in taking a look or getting involved, please visit woolfulmercantile.com

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Music by Jónsi

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Fiber-conscious Knitting Natural Living

Fiber-conscious: Alternatives to superwash wool

December 11, 2014
sueprwash wool alternatives

A few weeks back I wrote a post about the processing of superwash wool, it’s use of chlorine gas and plastic. In my efforts to become more “fiber-conscious” I began purging my stash of superwash wool and encouraged other’s to take a closer look at the fibers they were using and find healthier and more sustainable alternatives. Which brings me to this follow-up post, the first of several, outlining alternatives to superwash, my favorite fiber-conscious yarns and some additional insights as they become apparent. Thank you for all your comments, emails and feedback regarding this topic and please share any resources you may have as well! I’ll be updating the Resources page with these companies and yarns, and add more as I become aware of them…the options are truly endless.

*Most yarns listed below must be washed by hand like most non-superwash wools, except for the few where I’ve noted a new organic superwash process is being used. Those are said to be machine washable, though I still say hand washing is best 😉

Alternatives to superwash sock yarn:
O-Wash Fingering by O-Wool (A certified organic superwash process)
Beaverslide 2-ply Sport sock weight (merino with mohair to add strength)
Beaverslide 3-ply DK sock weight  (merino with mohair to add strength)
MOCO Qivuit Musk Ox sock weight (Qivuit is stronger than wool and does not shrink)
Green Mountain Spinnery Meadow sock weight (Fine wool and mohair to add strength)
The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering weight

Alternatives to superwash sport, dk, worsted and aran weight yarns (see my favorite yarns below for more of all weights):
Swans Island Washable Wool Collection DK weight (A certified organic superwash process)
Sincere Sheep Luminous DK weight
O-Wash Sport (A certified organic superwash process)
A Verb For Keeping Warm Pioneer worsted weight
Jill Draper’s Empire Aran weight

Alternative to superwash bases for dyeing:
Imperial Stock Ranch Yarns
Yarn Undyed USA (Mostly non-superwash bases, and an exciting new line of Sustainable Merino)
Green Mountain Spinnery
Snoqualmie Valley Yarn
Echoview Fiber

My favorite fiber-conscious yarns, including breed specific and single farm yarns:
Beaverslide Mule-Spun Yarns
Swans Island Yarns
Ton of Wool Cormo Yarn
Twirl Yarn
O-Wool Yarns
Elsawool Yarns
Insouciant Fibers
Quince and Co
Brooklyn Tweed
Retrosaria by Rosa Pomar
Woolfolk Yarn
Vreseis Limited