Columns

Catching up with Jennifer

In her regular column, Jennifer Lienhard of Woolfinch Studio, writes about her adventures in fibre crafting and running a small fibre business.

Autumn and winter months are such busy months of the year and so satisfyingly productive too! I had been playing around with some colour schemes over the past few months, but my heart wasn’t quite in the results. Eventually I decided to take the plunge and instead of trying to go with colourways ‘on the market’ I went with what I would like to see in a yarn.

So, I grabbed my children’s pencil boxes (and hoped to find my own rather expensive colouring pencils in there!), my dyeing journal and started to combine colours. Finally, I decided on five different colourways. It took two weeks to do all five and even though I would have liked to dye a few more different yarn combinations, I didn’t have the time. It takes a lot of time and concentration to get it right so I stuck with my five colourways. And I’m so happy with the latest results; I could burst with pride.

Purple Lure
Moon Dance
Sunset
Autumn Joy

Most of the dyed yarns are a combination of 80% wool and 20% Ramie (Peruvian nettle plant fibre, more about that below), which is a great sock yarn. We also dyed a fine baby alpaca, a wool/nylon sock yarn and some thicker wool yarn.

The beauty of each dye lot is that even though they are very much standalone yarns, they work beautifully knitted together too.

Apart from the actual dyeing process, which is actually very short, the mixing of dyes, the rinsing and drying, especially at this time of year, can take a long time. And then of course each hank needs to be wound and and labelled. All in all, it’s a very hands on and satisfying occupation.

We have also opened a new chapter in our shop – fabrics. It’s still a small part of the business, but it’s growing. You might have gathered at this point that I’m rather fond of fibres. I’m always delighted with what we can make out of a simple bit of wool or a plant! Finding unique and outstanding fibres, and in this case fabrics, makes me giddy with delight!

The properties of wool, linen, silk, ramie and nettle are fascinating – they breathe, they keep radiation away, they balance body temperature, they’re self cleaning in terms of smell and germs, and they are so real. On top of all that, natural fibres are totally compostable. So, here are some of the lovely and exciting new fabrics we have started to stock in the shop.

wool-walk-fabrics

100% wool walk fabric – the fabric is felted and can be used as is, there’s no need to sew the edges. This would make a lovely poncho, jumper, jacket, hat, mittens, leg warmers, you name it. I’d love to wrap my little one up in one of those! They are so warm.

Nettle fabric is a very exciting fabric (we’re also stocking the yarn too). The fabric and yarn is made from nettles. Cloisters and many other places devoted their time to the production of nettle yarn; however, nowadays it’s been pretty much forgotten and replaced by linen and cotton. This particular fabric and yarn are made in Nepal using the Nepalese nettle, Girardinia diversifolia, which grows up to 3m tall. There, the Nepalese still harvest and peel the nettle by hand. It is then placed in a semi boiling wood ash bath overnight and the next day the loosened fibres are beaten across a stone several times and rubbed with clay to loosen the remaining plant debris, giving it this beautiful earthy colour.

Like most things in nature, this fabric has no one colour. The colour of one piece can vary from straw yellow to grey brown and even dark brown. Each length of fabric is a unique handwoven piece, in its truest, cleanest and most ecological form. The fabric keeps and protects body warmth; it can be boiled and becomes softer and more beautiful with time and wear.

nettle-fabric
nettle-yarn

You can find all of our yarns in our Etsy shop and if you’re interested in making a purchase, please use OLANNAND15 for a 15% discount. (Minimum purchase €10, active until the 31st of January 2017).

Jennifer Lienhart
November 2015 wool finch studio

Woolfinch Studio provides all the materials you need to get started with needle felting, including beginners’ needle felting kits in two sizes. The shop also provides a starter pack of mixed merino colours in different sizes,to experiment with wet felting, as well as tester bags, which include a selection of  plant fibres and interesting  animal fibres.

Recommended