School of Yarn ~ Master Class
“The function of art is to more than tell it like it is ~ it’s to imagine what is possible.” ~ Bell Hooks
Years ago, our School of Yarn series as a way to give you the (knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver) a better understanding of the yarns you were using. We wanted to open up your knowledge about fiber content, yarn construction and weight, as well as how and when to utilize which weight of yarn, with the right number of plies, made of the perfect blend of fibers. We covered quite lot of territory and I am hoping we contributed to you being more successful in your yarn choices and pairings with patterns.
… And then in waltzes the pandemic, bringing to a head issues that the textile industry has already needed to deal for quite a while. We are experiencing supply chain challenges, shipping issues and large price increases, some of which will hopefully get better and some that will just stay new and different. We need to look at these issues, not only in order to become better stewards of our planet in general, but also to start building a more sustainable approach to what we wear and make.
Blue Moon wants to be part of a solution, and with your help I believe we can add to the positive momentum forward. Our community is you – as well as the ranchers here in the western US who lovingly raise the sheep that grow the wool we are going to use – and also the processing people who clean the wool – and also everyone at the mill who contributes to milling and designing the yarn – and then of course me, your dyer and Karen, representing the designers.
All of the yarn we create and choose to bring into the Blue Moon line-up under the Community Supported Yarn initiative will be US made with The Textile Institute’s Responsible Wool Standards stamp of approval (certification). Yarn making takes time to get it from the sheep to your hands. So we are going to start now and go for a little over a year ~ 14 months. Taking time like this will allow us to give you the experience of the full scope of what (and who) is involved in creating yarn. We’ll also be able to take a look at why it is important to have ranching practices to protect the ground, to have scouring and milling practices to protect our water, and to have fair wages and humane treatment for everyone along this wool chain.
Change starts with us! Truly! I have seen first hand the power we have, so let’s get this ball rolling.
Our plan is to create two yarn-bases from sheep to skein together! You will also get skeins of some of the yarns we are adding to our line-up that have already been designed.
What follows is a general outline of what is to come in our Master Class and Community Supported Yarn venture. Our primary goals are: to create beautiful yarns for us all to enjoy while supporting everyone (animal, human and planet) along the supply chain; to build and celebrate a rich, vibrant community; and educate ourselves on more sustainable ways to create, dress and live on this beautiful planet. Karen and I are thrilled and grateful that you are joining us on this journey!
One of the things I know is that life is fluid, so things might change a bit since there are a lot of elements and folks involved, and we are still dealing with pandemic issues. (For example, I thought it was going to be challenging to get to ranches and talk to folks, and now it looks like we will have an abundance of these experiences to share with you. So very exciting!!)
As you can see, we have 13 months listed out here instead of the 14. It’s a safety net!! We have an extra month in there just in case we need that time. Live and learn!!
As Karen and I have worked through all of this we have found that there is so very much we would like to cover and discuss, so we are going to add in a monthly Zoom session that you can join live, or watch later if you missed it (or want to revisit a topic).
Every step of this process and every person involved has a story, so we will be learning a lot through each of these ranchers, growers, millers. Honestly, it’s my favorite way to learn because you get to see, hear and breathe in their passion and experience.
It’s quite the undertaking.
And here is a note from Karen:
As makers, we have a unique position vis-a-vis the climate crisis. On the one hand, we have the best perspective on what it takes to *make* the things we use on a daily basis, which puts us in a better position to empathize with the workers in the Global South who sew ready-to-wear clothing. We really know how long it takes to knit a pair of socks, or sew a dress!
But on the other hand, we are still consumers – our making takes resources, and with this emerging awareness of this situation the planet is in, we have to balance our desire to make with our need to consume.
I sum this up with an oxymoron: I call myself a ‘Minimalist Maker.’ And really, what it boils down to is, like in other aspects of my day-to- day life, questioning what I intend to consume. Do I really need it? If yes, can I source it more locally or from people who are doing really good work that I want to support? They are tough questions, but ones we have have to be asking ourselves so we can be an active force in turning this ship around.
So I’ve been digging in and reading a lot across a veritable Venn Diagram of overlapping topics: minimalism, the problem of fast fashion, capsule wardrobes, visible mending, conscious consumption…. Probably before the course is over, we will find a few more!
Every other month or so, I’ll take you through the highlights of some great books I’ve collected on these topics. If you want to do a deeper dive and read one or more for yourself, you can see if your local library has them, or order them up from your local bookstore – the links I’ve provided are from Powell’s in Portland.
Thank you for being a part of this community and journey! – Tina and Karen
Master Class Proposed Schedule
July 2022:Theme: Developing a Sustainability Sensibility
Where we are now: consumption and climate change Creating your ‘toolbox’ – what are you using and how does it reflect your values?
Reading: All We Can Save (Ayana Elizabeth Johnson)
First yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas
Local Indigo Dye Farm Profile
August:Theme: From Sheep to Yarn! An overview of the steps along the journey of making yarn
Shaniko Wool Story
Yarn Industry Standards of weights and measuresExploring your personal style: what’s the story you want to tell with our clothes?
Ranch Profile #1 and Ranch and Small Mill Visit
September:Theme: Carbon Hoof-Print from lamb to garments Traceability and Certification
Specific US breeds and choosing wools for specific yarns What makes a good sock yarn and why?What is our role in the global clothing economy and why is that important?
Reading: Consumed by Aja Barber
Second yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas
Ranch Profile #2
OctoberTheme: Shearing, baling and scouring…oh my! Superwash and other treatments
Your body quirks: what is your body comfortable in? Ranch Profile #3
November:Theme: Mills and spinning
Mills in the US and certifications
Spinning a yarn: as the spinning frame turns all the singles Yarn weights, the importance of gauge, and how to knit a great swatch
Reading: The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline Ranch Profile #4 and Ranch Visit
December:Theme: Yarn design, milling timelines and testing procedures Matching fiber or fabric to your project – figuring out what you love to work with and wear
Third yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas Ranch Profile #5
January 2023:Theme: Yarn design, construction and making, Part Two Winter Ranching!
Your favorite clothes are the ones that fit: sizing and ease Getting to an ideal capsule wardrobe with a January Reset! Reading: Project 333 by Courtney Carver Ranch Profile #6
February :Theme: The value of place. ‘Fiber-sheds’ throughout the US Your sustainable wardrobe: what you already own, secondhand resources, and me-mades
Fourth yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas Ranch Profile #7
March:Theme: Dyeing and dyestuffs both natural and chemical Footprints and sustainability
Building a color palette for more efficient making Reading: The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees Ranch Profile #8 and Lambing
April:Theme: Ranchers and their sheep; animal care and safety; loving what we do; caring
Cared clothes last longer: hand washing, storage, and how to extend the life of your clothing Fifth yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas. Ranch Profile #9 and Ranch Visit – Shearing
MAY: Theme: Running a yarn business
Building a community of like-minded souls
What 24 years in the hand work part of the textile industry looks like
When your favorite clothes get worn: mending and stitch work as wardrobe enhancement
Reading: Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro
Ranch Profile #10 and Dye garden Visit for planting!!
June:Theme: Rounding it all up, casting off and working in the loose ends
What happens to the clothes you’re ready to let go of? Reuse, repurpose, refashioning Last yarn shipment with specs and pattern ideas and joy!! Ranch Profile #11
July:Theme: Where do we go from here?
Show and Tell – what are your sustainable wardrobes evolving into?
A Zoom session to round up all our ideas and successes!