Know your yarn. 

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. ❤️👍🏼 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 outer 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. ❤️

*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!

Step into your destiny.

I hardly know where to begin this post!

I have just spent Mother’s Day weekend on the most amazing course at Abundant Healing where I spent time learning spirit healing and achieving my Reiki/Seichim Masters with 4 beautiful people who I now have a forever connection with.

The weekend was just so intense, I could not possibly do it justice in a single blog post, so I’m not even going to attempt it! But I may write further posts about it down the track, so watch this space!

I will today tell you a little bit about a certain aspect of it, as it relates to my new direction into activated yarns, which is originally why I went into the course; to learn how to channel universal energy into yarn.

frigg_colored_by_lamorien-d31tv0s

One of the initial exercises we did, was to enter into a guided meditation in order to find our spirit guide, who would help us on our journey of becoming a healer. During the meditation, I looked to my left to see a line drawing of a girl, who then became a pale girl dressed in white. She had long hair, and she was quick to tell me that she had no speech, but was overjoyed to see me, and that she had always been with me as we were sisters. She then motioned to me all the times through my life when she had been there, sending me this mile-a -minute set of flash backs to life moments in my childhood: “So that: That was me! Remember that?! THAT WAS ME TOO! And you know how you love that pearly colour – THAT’S MY COLOUR!!!” When the meditation ended I felt completely overwhelmed and emotional – HOW COULD SHE HAVE BEEN THERE ALL THAT TIME AND NEVER HAVE SHOWN ME? (That night I saw her again in my dream, and she gently explained that if she’d just APPEARED at the end of my bed looking like a pale version of Samara from the horror movie The Ring, I would’ve FREAKED OUT and shut down. She was absolutely right. Fair call. So the things she showed me was her way of letting me know she was around – NOW I know what to look for! ❤ )

Anyway, fast forward to the end of the weekend, I’m feeling so empowered and looking forward to using my new abilities, but not really sure how I’m going to go forward. I don’t intend to open a practice – it’s not my path. But I have this yarn and I’m called to make it, but I’m not sure if it’s really “A THING”. I mean, I just made it up, right?! I just had this idea, and I felt like it made sense, and in my heart I knew what to do, so I did it, right? But like: “why?” and “does it work?” and “where did the idea come from?” (I have NEVER heard of anyone doing it before.)

So even though I was excited to move forward, there was still an uncertainty: What next?

Then as a final exercise, Tash had us all pull one tarot card for each person to interpret (without looking at the card, just by intuition) for us as a final message for the weekend (we could then look at the card).

Well, I kid you not: 4 separate people handed me a random card. I gave 4 separate readings.

And 4 times I got THE SAME CARD.

The-Volva(Thankyou to fairyologist.me for the picture)

I giggled at the name. (Of course!: I’m only human!) And I looked at her face looking at me like “You know, don’t you…?!”

But I didn’t know. I drew a complete blank.

So I left it, and I came home. And I went to bed, and then got up and went about my day. And took my kids to school. And did the laundry. And I couldn’t for the life of me, work out what I was supposed to know. So I turned to google. And I googled “Volva”.

volva

And I nearly FELL OFF MY CHAIR.

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And suddenly, there was my Sister.

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(Like a pale white version of Samara.)

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And my blood ran cold. And I got the message loud and clear. This is not new: what I do is ANCIENT. And I know it, because it is my heritage. Volur are Norse. They were Germanic. My sisters were putting energy and intention and magic into yarn together as Norne, and Valkyrie, and Seeresses in times of ancient mythology and history.

nornes

She was right. I didn’t ‘make this idea up’ to put energy and intention into threads and yarn. It, like my sister, has ALWAYS been in me. It’s my heritage.

I didn’t imagine.

I remembered.

I knew.

norns

 

 

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… 😉

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… 🙂

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

Crouching tiger, hidden courgette.

Zucchinis. Many many zucchinis. 

While it seems our fruit efforts were a bust this year, our veggies are killin it! Although technically tomatoes are a fruit right? And the girls have been in the garden popping cherry tomatoes into their mouths almost everyday. So all our efforts weren’t in vain!

I don’t know if you’ve tried zucchini brownies, but these are AWESOME. Rich, chocolatey and fudgey! And not the slightest hint of zucchini taste! The girls wolfed them down! (And they’re vegan! So I wolfed them too! LOL) 

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

  

  

  

I while back I spoke to our neighbour about how great it would be to host some bee hives on our properties, to pollinate our plants, help the environment, and learn more about beekeeping.

Not long after, I met a local apiarist at our farmers market, and found out that the trees on our place are particularly sought after, and only flower for 3 or 4 weeks once every 5 years! 

So Paul the bee guy came and had a look at the farm, said it all looked great, but when I checked with the ladies who keep their horses here, they weren’t so keen. Fair enough. So I told Paul it was a no-go as not everyone was comfortable having them here, but my neighbour Murray asked for Paul’s number.

  
Well. That should’ve been that. But instead, Paul moved a few hives to my neighbour’s place (which is wonderful, and he is well within his right to do on acerage in a rural area) 

    
 

Dyeing to try it.

I’ve been experimenting with dyeing my own fibre for spinning of late, and Im getting more and more inspired by natural dyes. Ive been finding my brain exploding into sparks and catherine wheels of inspiration, thinking of all the plants, barks and fruits around Hill Shadow farm which could dye my yarn. I LOVE feeling inspired.

Here’s a link which shows you some of the differences between natural and synthetic dyes.

It looks like a fairly simple process, though I think there’s a lot of variables which can affect your colours.

Aaaaaaaaand since Im getting my online store up and going (!), keep an eye out for my new natural dyed, Hill Shadow Farm inspired, compassionate yarns… I cant wait. Im going to be a busy busy bee!

Here’s some beautiful dyeing and natural yarns to get YOU inspired! ❤

Timber and Twine

Dye-lot

Right: I’ve got a tonne of fleece I have to get clean and dry before tomorrow’s carding.

 
  
Im getting together with some friends and very talented fibre artists so we can swap knowledge and fluff.

Check us out on FB

Watch this space…!

xx