The art of making fabrics and textiles has been handed down from one generation to the next. Techniques and patters have become a language much like music, we tell stories through our personal interpretation of a song, or we write a new one. When I take the time to make handmade items I want each one to be different. If I want them exactly the same, they can be mass produced - and nothing wrong with that. What's the point with doing it by hand if we do not give it a personal touch.
The items want to be made. Colors and patterns prod me, inspire me. That is how I know that it is for someone in particular, even if they have not made an order request. I tend to explore one theme of a pattern and/or a color scheme, then move to the next.
At this point there is no mill in the US that is able to spin the fine thread I want, in particular in the small batches available of hard to find fibers with extreme fineness and quality. I process it by hand, from the raw fleece off the animal to finished products, along with using some available yarns of natural fibers.
Scarves, scarves, scarves!!!!
I love to make scarves and shawls, and to wear them. Occasionally I knit them, but mostly weave at this point. For the warm/cool seasons I will make them from European wet-spun superfine flax/linen. To get certain color combinations I hand dye. Linen softens over time as it is worn and washed.
For the cold season, and for you who always need that extra warmth around your neck, I work with several animal fibers. Camelids have won a special place in my heart. My absolute favorite is the North American Paco-Vicuna. Vicuna is the ancestor to modern day alpacas. Animals were imported to the US starting 2006 that had not been bred to the extreme standards of alpaca, and instead retained the vicuna structure in the fiber. To some extent the look and temperament of the animals also stronger resemble the wild vicuna. Both alpaca and Paco-Vicuna needs to be dehaired, in particular Paco-Vicuna. It is the longer thicker hairs that protect the softer under coat. If not removed they poke you a bit.
Check the video to see the process!
My curiosity demanded a new loom that lets me play a bit more with complexity in patterns, and start to make my original designs. Some are meant to be beautiful, others tongue in cheek. Not everyone wants a scarf, said no one, or did they? Still, with the wonderful European linen I got so excited and am lined up to make napkins, place mats, and kitchen towels - at least that is the plan. I love color, the more the better. Yet, just like patterns, sometimes we need something that has a very simple and understated elegance.
I hope you find your perfect scarf, a set of napkins to own, or gift someone. If you do not see it, you can explain what you are looking for, or the color scheme, and maybe it can be made. Remember, handmade is a very slow process, unless it is almost finished when you ask.