Know your yarn.ย 

The beauty of being a small business is knowing EXACTLY where your materials come from. And that it REALLY is ethical and compassionate.

Sure, you can buy commercial, mass-produced fibre. But you’ll have no idea if it’s from factory farmed animals, has been chemically treated, or made using unethical trade/labour. But it’ll probably be cheap.

I like to know EVERYTHING about my yarn, so you can too. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ The fibres are meticulously hand-selected from small local farmers. (Some are right here at Hill Shadow!) My dyes are sourced from a small business based in outerย Melbourne VIC, who supplies ethical, organic and fair trade products. All labour (washing, combing, spinning, dyeing) is done by ME. By hand. At my hearth, in the Yarra Ranges, VIC.

So, I’d like to introduce you to one of my business’ cashmere suppliers.

Everybody: George. George, this is everybody.

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Dye me a rainbow…

Today’s efforts…

275g of beautiful hand spun Corridale fibre went into the dye pot today. I wanted to see if I could dye a rainbow gradient with natural dyes (why spoil a beautiful natural fibre with a chemical dye, huh?!)

This was a few hours of scouring, drying, carding and then spinning already, so I really hoped it would turn out beautifully!

I mixed up my potions like a crazy alchemist:

lac* for red,

lac and pomegranate for orange,

Himalayan rhubarb for yellow,

Pomegranate and indigo for green,

indigo at 2 different concentrations for light blue and indigo,

indigo and lac for purple.

All at different precise concentrations, mixed with the required amount of vinegar.

I mordanted the wool for an hour, then handpainted on each colour, wrapped it and steamed it, rinsed it and rinsed until no more dye ran.

Gee it was a process. But gee it’s worth it. โค๏ธ

*Not hugely keen on using Lac or Cochineal for dyeing, due to them being ‘natural’, but made from ground up beetles. Doesn’t feel right. Doesn’t feel kind. So I’m just finishing this little sample pot off, and I’m going to try a plant-based alternative for red: Quebracho! Its made from a Mexican tree! Results TBA!

Seasons of change.

 Hi guys – it’s been a while! But as you may or may not know, I supplement our family income with a bit of casual Virtual Assistant admin work on the side. Which is great because it means I can work flexible hours from home, but also means – like the chef that never cooks at home – I work on other people’s admin and often neglect my own! 

But I have been spinning, we have been accidental, no-clue farming, and the year has been ticking along. Which was clearly evident last Friday when I booked a stall at Katie’s school craft market and found myself donning my stall’s merchandise in order to keep warm – it was freezing! 

Looks like Autumn is just around the corner!

  

Wool from a rescue sheep (‘Wilma’), handspun by me and dyed with natural organic plant dye (Madder).
  

 

So we decided to dedicate Saturday to one of our most pressing Winter-prep chores: collecting firewood.
      

Fortunately, throughout the year a large tree or two inevitably fall, so we are pretty self-sufficient for heating. And 2 trailer-loads full of large rounds later, we added to our impressive wood pile and felt much more prepared for winter!

Wood pile number 2!

All that’s left is to split it into bits and cover it!

  
Now we just have to plant our winter veg: broccoli, cabbage, beans, silverbeet, radish & caulis! The garden beds are full of beautiful compost, organic matter and manure. And now that the tomatoe, zucchinis, capsicum and basil are finishing, we’ll have plenty of space to fill! 

Plus we need to think about re-stocking our hay shed for the horse and goats over winter. Hay is a bit expensive at the moment, so I have my ear to the ground waiting for a deal! The goats are already starting to coat-up, which makes me excited for cashmere fleece in spring, but in the meantime, I’ve got Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show to look forward. Or “Spendigo” as we fibre/wool fanatics call it! And I’ve still got a whole Corridale fleece which I got given, just waiting to be prepped, scoured, dyed and spun!

So much fleece to dye, so little time… ๐Ÿ˜‰

And hey: Winter is coming! Start knitting now! That jumper isn’t going to knit itself! XD

If you need some wooley inspiration, feel free to check out the store…! Click on the ‘store’ tab at the top of the page.

  

Well, I’m off to read a bit with a cup of tea, in these few blessed quiet moments before bed! One thing to look forward to in the cooler months: Fireside reading! Flannel sheets! Woollen beanies! 

Wait that’s 3 things… ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you knitting for winter? Have you prepared your firewood? What will you be planting? And what’s your favourite thing about Winter? 

Hope you’re enjoying these last long warm days x