Firstly, my apologies for the delay in getting this post up. I've had a cold for the past 2 weeks, and no one wants to listen to me explaining how to spin a fibre accompanied by constant sniffing!
AS ever, this post contains spoilers.
If you want to try any of the fibres from last month, or would like more of any of the fibres included, they're now all available to buy in the shop.
The first fibre to start off with from this round of the club is Llama. Llamas are a member of the camelid family, like Alpacas, but larger in size. They produce a coat that is very similar to alpaca. This Llama is graded at 20-21 microns, which is at the finer end of the scale of the fibre produced commercially.
It's a long stapled fibre, with very little crimp, as a result it won't spin in a yarn with much bounce and elasticity. If you spin from the end of the combed top you'll get a smooth, lustrous yarn. Alternatively spin from the fold to get a fluffier yarn.
Next we've got Mulberry Silk. This is the most lustrous of all the silk types, which to me means that I want spin it in a way that maximises the shine. I like spinning it straight from the end of the combed top, in the video I give you a few hints on how to do this successfully, particularly if you usually end up with a jumbled mess off fibres.
The final fibre in this month of the club is Ramie. This plant fibre comes from the nettle family; Boehmeria Nivea and Boehmeria Tenacissima. The outer pulp of the stem is removed, leaving behind the fibrous inner, which is then combed to remove all the shorter pieces of fibre, and any remaining pieces of outer stem. The fibre is processed China, before being dyed in Italy to Okeo-Tex 100 standards using renewable energy sources.
It will spin in to a strong, smooth yarn, with a moderate amount of shine.
The last month has felt very different to the previous years. For the first time in 6 years we didn't head towards Yorkshire to trade at Yarndale. I've already had a few disappointed comments from people who were sad not to see me there, but it's been such a good decision for me to do fewer in-person shows this year.
It's meant I've been able to teach more (which I love doing), experiment more, and take more time off.
On a work front, the first batch of 12 Days of Christmas parcels are very nearly ready to be sent out. I'm just doing the dyeing today, will be collecting the surprise extra tonight, and should have the first set of parcels packed and ready to be posted on Monday. After that I will put the next (and final) batch of parcels up for sale. The spectre of Brexit continues to linger over my shoulder. For the past year not a day has gone by when I've not thought about how to ensure my business will survive. One of my Italian suppliers has just contacted me about some really exciting new products, and I'd love to start stocking them. But it's just such bad timing. I could probably have the first batch delivered before we crash out, but then the any re-stock would face an immediate price rise as I'd have to pay customs fees, and admin fees to import those goods.
If you're a customer in the EU I will try to make sure that you get your orders quickly, particularly the club orders, over the next month. Going forward, should we leave it's likely that your higher value parcels will be subject to some sort of charges as they enter your country. However, this will be outweighed by the fact that you will no longer be charged VAT when you make your purchase. Overall you shouldn't end up paying any more to receive your order as any admin fee charged will probably be balanced out by your reduced postage costs.
On a more cheery note I have been doing more experimenting with dyeing outside my professional sphere.
More cotton fabric, destined for pyjama bottoms, but this time using Procion dyes, and a technique called ice dyeing. This is a method that really caught me eye when I looked round the classrooms at Summer School , and was taught by Fiona Moir in her class Let's Dye It!. The dress featured below was hung outside to dry, and I know that many of us were coveting it during the coffee break, my photo completely fails to do it justice.
I have also finished off my sample blanket from Summer School. For the class I taught I wanted to students to appreciate how the dye effect looked as fabric, and not just as a skein of yarn, so I encouraged them all to pick a simple pattern they could work on in the evenings. I gave them a short list of suggestions, and chose to do a Ten Stitch Blanket for my own class sampler.
The centre uses all my sample skeins from the week-long class, and I then carried on using up all my oddments until it was large enough. It's now a very lovely reminder of a wonderful week.
The photo below is the work completed by the students during Summer School... as you can see there are a few more Ten Stitch Blankets in progress!
On the chicken front all the babies are no longer really looking like babies... Though it turns out that my cockerel breeding success continues. Vita, is definitely not a girl. However the name has now stuck, and given we have a Lillee, he's not the only cockerel in the flock with a non-traditional name.
Over the years we've hatched 13 baby chicks, a grand total of 3 have been girls! Some one once asked me what I do with all my cockerels, and the answer is that I keep them all. They're more pets than livestock, and are kept because they make us happy, rather than for any consideration of producing food. the eggs we get are a lovely bonus. Generally the chickens live to old age and die peacefully in the garden. Occasionally one goes missing, usually one of the girls who has laid a clutch of eggs in a hidden spot, and then is never seen again. I've been very lucky to have boy cockerels who usually all get along. I usually have a group of 3 or 4 girls wandering round with 3 or 4 cockerels. The boys have a pecking order, just like the girls, but it's rare for it to ever go beyond a quick scuffle. In the spring I occasionally have to separate the cockerel who's at the bottom of the pecking order until hormone levels subside a little, but after a couple of days they soon go back to being a pretty harmonious group.
Last weekend I was in London, for a meeting of the committee who runs The Journal for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. I've just taken over The Journal Twitter account, and will be using to to share all sorts of lovely textile things. Please come and follow if you feel you need more textiles in your life. I've really enjoying looking at a feed filled with beautiful objects, and news from people who make them. You can find it as @journalwsd
Trains from my part of Wales make it impossible to arrive in London in time for a Saturday morning meeting, so I travelled down the day before, and spent a lovely afternoon going round the British Museum playing hunt the textiles. I found a few...
Though I did get distracted by this stunning Grayson Perry Vase, particularly the vase on the vase "Craftsman. Hero in the Digital Age"
I also found a bit of Welsh Gold. This cape was found in a grave in Mould, and dates from 1900-1600BC
And finally some cloth! This is some of the oldest wool cloth found in Britain. It dates to the Roman occupation, late 4th century AD, and was woven in a 2-over-2 twill pattern.
I started off the post talking about shows, which brings me round to my final show of 2019, I will be back at Bakewell Wool Gathering next weekend, we're in the side room as usual.
I may have mentioned it in the past but I am a big fan of Ply magazine. I've written for them occasionally , and look forward to my subscription arriving every quarter. Occasionally, when I can stretch the advertising budget, I also have a print advert, which means I get an advertisers copy of the magazine.
I refer back to these magazines as often as I refer back to any of the books I own, so I think the subscription is excellent value. I took my entire back catalogue with me to Summer School for people to look through when they needed a break from spinning all day every day!
The latest issue should be arriving with us in the UK soon, but meanwhile I have a spare copy of the previous edition- Suspended Spindle (Summer 2019) to giveaway.
You can get your hands on a paper copy in two ways.
1) Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite spindle make
2) Go to The Supported Spindle Page on the Ply magazine website, look through the list of articles, and come back here and leave a comment saying which article you're most looking forward to reading.
Make sure you include your email address when you leave your comment. It's not available publicly, but without it I can't contact you to find out your postal address.
You have until midnight (GMT) on Saturday 28th to leave a comment, and I will contact the winner on Sunday 29th.
Winner selected 30/9/19 (slightly later thanks to horrible train cancellations wiping out my Sunday) - The Random Number Generator picked the comment left by Turid.
As usual, this post will contain spoilers, so if you've not received your parcel you may want to come back and read this later.
This is a new round of the club, and we'll be going back to re-visit a few fibres, but there are still plenty of new fibres to explore, and there are two of them in the parcels this month.
If you liked the look of any of the fibres from last month the spare stock is now available to buy separately in the online shop.
The first fibre I recommend you try in this round of parcels is Peduncle Silk. This naturally coloured brown silk is produced by the Tussah (Tasar) silk moth. It’s unusual because unlike other species it forms a little tail that pokes out of the end of the cocoon. That tail (or peduncle) is proceeded to form this fibre. It's a much more wool-like fibre than many of the other silks, and one of the easiest forms of silk to spin. I know lots of people loved this fibre in the Tour de Fleece Non-Wool Sampler. You can spin it straight from the end of the top, or break it in to chunks and spin it from the fold. The more textured nature of this fibre means the different drafting techniques doesn't alter the appearance of the yarn as much as it does with the shinier silks.
Sari Silk fibre is created using the waste from the will weaving industry. It takes all the loom waste, and general off cuts, and cards them together to create this textured, recycled fibre. Historically this is the sort off fibre that would be described as Shoddy, but don't le the modern mutation put you off. This fibre will spin in to a beautifully textured fibre.
You can spin using a short forward draw, but will need to use an inch-worm technique, or can go for a point of twist draft. Be sure to make sure you add enough twist, the shorter fibres in this blend will make a yarn that is likely to pill.
This fibre adds real magic to blends as well. Due to the way that some of the fibres were originally dyed I'd recommend using caution when you wash your yarn for the first time. Wash it by itself, and check to see if you get any dye run off. If you do it's probably worth adding a splash of vinegar, and then heating it up either in the microwave, in a steamer, or just in a pan of water. That should set any loose dye, and mean you won't get any further problems. Just get in touch if you need any further help with this.
The final fibre for this month is Flax Tow. Once we’ve turned this in to yarn this fibre becomes known as linen. This fibre is very strong, highly absorbent, and quick drying. It’s ideal for wearing in hot, humid weather. The first evidence of mankind processing linen for textiles comes from the area of modern day Georgia, around 36,000 years ago. Traditionally this is spun in the opposite direction to normal with an S twist (with your wheel going anticlockwise), but an article in the Flax edition of Ply magazine has made me question the need to do this. You will find it helpful to wet you front hand as you go along, this really does help to smooth the fibres and to hold the yarn together. We are spinning flax tow, these are shorter fibres that will naturally spin in to a more textured yarn that you would get if you were spinning from flax strick. Repeat the wetting and smoothing procedure as you ply your yarn. I recommend a gentle boil in a mild washing soda solution to soften the hand of this yarn once it is plied.
After I got back from Summer School I had a hectic few days getting caught up, sending out club parcels, and restoring everything to its usual place.
Before I went I'd built myself a new storage shed to hold all the undyed bases I hold in stock, but hadn't got any further in executing the grand reorganisation! After a period of time when it looked like it was never all going to fit, I've finally achieved the end goal. All the fibres associated with the business are now out of my house, and in to their own dedicated stock room. It's very nice to get some of my own space back, and I can tell already that it's making me better about splitting time between work and play, and taking time off.
And once I was caught up, that's what I did. I've just had to go round taking bad photos, because when part of your job involves taking lots of photos, and part of your job is doing the social media stuff it's also really important that the down time doesn't carry on feeling like work.
Of course the idea of sitting around for a few days doing nothing isn't my bag. So I did some sewing.
Full confession time.... I did just pull these out of the washing basket for this photo, so they are looking somewhat crumpled. The fabric used an eco printing technique, I took this photo when we did a guild workshop in July, and it probably shows the technique more clearly than words. I learned how to do this at an association Sumer School in 2017. The pattern is Ultimate Pyjamas from Sew Over It, and I will definitely be using it again.
You take various leaves, lay them out on a piece of fabric, wrap it up in to a bundle, and boil it for a while. The natural colours in the leaves leach out and leave a print behind. For my pyjama bottoms I gave the fabric a boil in rhubarb leaf mordant first, though I note that in a recent blogpost Jenny Dean (from whom I got the information), no longer really uses this method, however, it shifted the baby blue of my fabric in to a more please eau de nil shade. I also soaked my leaves in an iron solution, which acts as a mordant, and indeed will make a print by itself, so even if the rhubarb doesn't act as a mordant, my leaf prints should stick around for a while.
There isn't really a definitive guide book to eco printing... but if you have a basic understanding of natural dyeing, then it's great fun to try. I really would recommend reading a reputable natural dyeing book first, natural doesn't always mean safe. The India Flint book on Eco Dyeing is a little wordy for my taste, not that helpful if you're trying to pick up what to do from scratch, and but is an interesting thing if you want to start experimenting further. The Jenny Dean book Wild Colour is a great book to use as a resource, and if you know it will dye then it's a reasonably safe bet that it will also make a print. I do what we did at Summer School which is to boil my bundle of cloth and leaves, but others use a steamer.
I also did some fancier sewing.... not that you'd believe it from this photos, but I am just not in the mood to start trying to take selfie's today. So trust me when I say that this is the French Dart Shift Dress, and is made from some Liberty Linen I bought myself for my birthday present last year. It feels lovely to wear... and it has pockets! Again, I am definitely going to be making other visions of this.
oMeanwhile on Planet Chicken. We have 2 boys and a girl from the first clutch. The boys are going to be Monty and Don, and are both gingery brown. (Only 1 of them is in the photo, the other was busy stuffing himself with mealworms.) Their sister is going to be called Gertie after Gertrude Jekyll. She's the blonde one in the photo above, and is being continually left behind by her big brothers. Their Mum (Niddy) has now left them to their own devices, and for a few days all you could hear was poor Gertie plaintively cheeping because she didn't understand why she had to look after herself.
The other chick is also probably a girl, though it's always harder to tell when you don't have any other chicks of the same age for comparisons. Her Mum is looking after her much better, but hopefully all 4 youngsters will get along when Ebony decides she's had enough of parenthood. In keeping with our gardener theme for this years youngsters she's probably going to be Vita, after Vita Sackville-West.
I am busy in planning mode at the moment. I am just starting to reveal the details for this years 12 Days of Christmas parcels. These will go on sale very shortly as I need to order the fibre to arrive before crashing out of the EU will cause the price of the fibre to rise, and also so I can send EU customers their parcels before October 31st so they don't end up paying tax twice. I still doing everything I can to make sure that I have a functional business over the coming months, but I am dealing with complete unknowns at the moment.
On a more cheery note, my final in-person event of the year will be Bakewell Wool Gathering on October 12th and 13th. This is a lovely smaller scale show, nearly in the middle of Bakewell itself, entrance is only £5, or £8 for a weekend ticket.
In August last year I wrote a blogpost about some new packaging I was introducing. Since then I've also introduced using biodegradable clear grip seal bags. I much prefer to use these bags because they allow me to create a sturdier parcel, and they actually offer some protection to your order. You can carry on re-using these bags for a long time in the future. I can't see the point in wrapping up fibre in a piece of tissue paper. It serves no purpose, and in my experience of receiving orders it's often a tattered mess by the time the parcel has been squashed in the mail system. It's Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. In that order. The first step is to reduce, and for me, that means only using packaging that is useful.
I receive a lot of my supplies by mail order, which means lots of packaging coming in to the house. Nearly all of this is re-used to send out orders from Mum and Dad's Etsy shops. Clear plastic sacks provide protection for large knittingbags that are sent in re-used cardboard boxes. Even larger plastic bags are used instead of bubble wrap to provide protection to wooden yarn bowls. There's always a certain amount that is not reusable, which is where this box comes in.
I now pay a company called Terracycle for one of these big boxes. I stuff it full with all the plastic waste that our local council won't accept, and they turn it in to useful things. They even accept the clingfilm I use as part of my dyeing process.
Now this isn't cheap, this large box costs £230, and I am lucky in that my business is in a position where I can absorb that cost as part of my commitment to be more sustainable.
On a related note, I have a decision to make about my outer mail bags. I can now get an option that are made from potato starch, and are home compostable.
However, they are slightly translucent, so you can see the contents, and I have mixed feelings about using a food source for packaging. We have issues with food security on this planet, and there are issues with diverting food resources in to making packaging.
And then there's the cost.
1000 of the smallest size outer mailer (made from recycled plastic with a biodegradable additive) I currently use costs me £114
1000 of the home compostable ones will cost £192
If I swapped to just using ones made from recycled material, but don’t break down I could buy 2500 for £120
If I went for non-recycled ones I could have 1000 for £50
The home compostable ones also have to be used with in 6 months, and at the moment I wouldn't manage to use a batch of 1000 quickly enough, so I'd have to buy a smaller batch, which is again, more expensive.
We have to do something with all the plastic we send for recycling... and as it is there are issues with western countries currently not managing to recycle the plastics we produce.
I've been thinking about this for a couple of months now, I'm just about to do a re-order of mailing bags, and I don't think there's actually a right answer. I know some businesses have switched to using paper, but I've decided not to do that as it's significantly heavier (so uses more fuel to transport), and paper production uses a lot of energy. And just as with using food starch to make bags there are issues about where all this paper is coming from. At the moment I am leaning towards continuing with my current option, the largest size bags will always have to be made from plastic as the corn starch isn't strong enough for the heavier parcels.
All of which is to say, I am still working hard to keep my business as sustainable as possible. Even though at times it feels like a drop in the ocean. When I was at Summer School a couple of weeks ago the caterers were going to hand out bottled water with every evening meal. Thankfully we managed to persuade them to set up a water urn, and most people then used their own cup or mug, but they had no option to hold liquids other than disposable cups. In a week, 200 of us would have gone through a vast number of single use bits of plastic, and all because the college had removed it's dishwashing capabilities for anything that wasn't a plate or bowl.
I will start off by saying that this is the final parcel in this 3 month block of the club. Spaces are still available for the next round, and will be available until all the spaces are sold, or I ship the first parcel.
We're visiting Germany for the inspiration this time, with one parcel featuring a green, blue, purple and brown colour palette, and the other featuring orange, yellow, browns and aqua.
I do still have a few new fibres for the next round of the club... so even if you've been in the previous rounds you should still experience something new, and of course, the colours will be completely different!
The first fibre I recommend trying in the parcel this month is Alpaca. It's probably the most similar to wool, so should be a reasonably relaxing spin. Alpaca's are in the camelid family, and native to South America. The micron count of this fibre is 24-26 microns, and classed as Baby Alpaca, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the fibre comes from young animals. As with sheep, the fibre that's produced is variable, but generally older animals produce coarser fibre. A traditional use for this fibre is as suiting fabric, producing a fabric with beautiful shine and drape. I like to spin this with a short forward draw from the end of the top, without too much twist, otherwise you end up with a yarn that's like string.
The second fibre for the month is bamboo rayon. This is a synthesised plant fibre, and from a different source to the viscose fibre we spun in June. That viscose was from general plant sources, and processed in Germany. This fibre comes from bamboo, which is very ecologically friendly, but is processed in China. To me, the fibres do feel noticeably different, so I thought you might enjoy comparing them. You may also see this sort of fibre referred to as Viscose, but viscose is a specific type of rayon, only made from wood pulp.
I like to spin this fibre from end of the combed top with a short forward draw, as that gives maximum shine and smoothness. If you struggle with the slippy fibres then switch to spinning from the fold.
The final fibre in the parcels this month is cotton. this plant fibre is fine and very short stapled, and comes from the fluffy fibres that surround cotton seeds on the cotton plant. This cotton is grown in South America, and dyed in Italy. You can add a lot of twist to this fibre, and most people generally struggle with adding too little twist, rather than too much. You generally make thicker cotton yarns by combining multiple thin plies, and it's not a fibre that works well as thicker singles, you will get a lot of pilling, and a fluffy, unstable yarn. I can really recommend the Cotton edition of Ply magazine to learn more about this fibre. If you're spinning it on a wheel use the fastest ratio you have, and you are looking to draft using a modified form of long draw straight from the end of the combed sliver. Keep adding twist and pulling your hands apart until the lumps even out and you can't draft any further, this is the point at which your yarn has enough twist to hold it together. You can add lots of plying twist as well, this fibre can handle it! If you own any lightweight spindles this might be the ideal fibre to spindle spin, and if you own a quill for your wheel this is the perfect fibre to spin from the point.
Todays monthly blogpost comes to you from a hotel room just outside of York. I'm teaching at the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers this month, and have just finished setting up my classroom. The Trade Fair and Open Day is next Saturday, and if you're in the area do come along, for a look around all the classrooms.
The Baby Chicks of last month are now at the gawky teenager stage, and have been joined by a sole survivor from a second clutch of eggs. They are an utter delight and I am very sad to be missing them for a week. No names for this gang yet, I'm starting to get a feeling for which are cockerels and which are hens, but I've not picked the theme for this batch of names.
Speaking of the animals of the household... Quentin and Clarissa have been causing trouble again. There is a lengthy twitter thread sharing his latest exploits.
July is of course all about the Tour de Fleece, it's probably my favourite time of year, and seeing skein after skein of hands-on being produced over the 3 weeks is a real advocate for the power of just a little practise every day. One of the things I really enjoyed was this years Non-Wool Sample Pack. 19 different fibres ranging from silks, to cotton, to camelids, to baste fibres.
Back in June I posted a photo of some handspun yarn, and promised I would reveal all later on.
A couple of months later and I've finished the knitting and have caught up with myself for longe enough to sit at the computer and write a blogpost.
The yarn was actually spun for specific pattern, and I know it's something people struggle with, so I thought I'd document the process step by step.
The pattern I wanted to make was Belmont. It's a cropped lace cardigan, and was a garment that was missing from my summer wardrobe, I tend towards longer length jumpers because in winter in a Welsh cottage you don't want a draft round your back.
To start the process off I ordered a ball of the yarn that's used in the pattern. I don't always do this, but it's such a low cost yarn that it saved me a lot of sampling. If I can't get the yarn to go with the pattern then I'll just create more samples and swatches until I get to where I'm happy.
So step 1 was to swatch with the original yarn, see how it behaved as fabric, and roughly what needle size I needed to get gauge. Then I spun some yarn that was the same thickness as the commercial yarn. However, I made a minor tweak. I increased the twist I gave to my singles, and therefore increased the plying twist. I wanted a yarn that is slightly harder wearing, though in part this is helped by using Cambrian Wool with it's lovely long staple length. A more tightly spun yarn will wear better.
I washed my yarn in super hot water, and then knitted a swatch, my handspun in this swatch is at slightly fewer stitches per inch than that called for in the pattern, so I then did a further swatch with a smaller size needle. Again, more densely knit fabrics wear better, and the denseness of the fabric produced with the commercial yarn at the pattern gauge is slightly loose for my taste.
Now the most important part of the process is the samples you keep from this step. They will allow you to spin the whole project at the same thickness as your original swatched sample.
As you are spinning take some singles and wrap them round a sample card. You also need to keep a ply back sample to show how much plying twist you need and to monitor your spinning twist. As you spin you can go a quick glance to check the singles are roughly the same thickness, and on a regular basis do a ply back sample to check that the thickness is still correct, and that the plying twist of your payback sample matches the one on your reference piece.
I set mine up on my wpi tool, but a piece of card is low cost version that works just as well. All these samples are unwashed, because you are comparing them to unwashed singles as you spin.
Advert breaks are an excellent reminder to check your spinning, though setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes is also really helpful. Now if you've played around with the grist (this says how many grams of yarn you have per metre) the weight of yarn suggested in the pattern won't be accurate. However, the total yardage will still be the same.
The results should be several skeins of yarn, all of the same thickness, and ones that should match your sample. In an ideal world, do another small swatch to check, but if you skip this step it's not generally disastrous. I spun my fibre in the white and then dyed it as yarn, so I could create this lovely glazed effect with a deep red, just washed over with a init of black. (Note to self however, remember to use loose ties if you're dyeing handspun!).
In the photo below the main skein at the top is the dyed handspun, the single red strand is the Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage (the original pattern yarn), and the white skein is my original sample skein.
Then I could set to with the knitting. after what felt like miles of twisted rib I got to play start on the lace pattern. Now this is where I was quite pleased with my decision to make a bouncier 2-ply yarn. The slightly rounder nature of my yarn means that the twisted rib sits beautifully, with the knit twitches sitting really proud of the ribbing. But the 2-ply structure still gave me a more open lace pattern.
Want to know more about ply number and cables and lace... I wrote a blogpost a couple of years ago.
Once finished it had a really good block, and I sewed on some vintage buttons.
This post could turn in to something of a word salad.... but I want to type it here because it's a conversation prompted by Instagram, but firstly, Instagram is a dreadful place to have any sort of meaningful discussion. I can barely keep track of 20 Team Hilltop Cloud Tour de Fleece posts per day, let alone host any sort of nuanced discussion in the comments.
Secondly it's a conversation that needs to move beyond an Instagram bubble, if I really do believe in what I write there I shouldn't be afraid to write it somewhere that is accessible to those who don't use social media.
Over the past few days a well known male knitting designer and teacher called Sockmatician made a instagram post that basically called on everyone to "just be nice". He claimed to have invented the #diversknitty and was upset that other people were using it in a way he wasn't happy about. He wrote a bizarre poem that immediately set my teeth on edge. To me it smacked of misogyny, yet another man telling me how I should think and behave. As I've later discovered that reaction is partly my privilege showing, because of course he wrote his original post in reposes to the discussion that has been happening regarding racism in our community. So by telling everyone to just "play nice" he was actually trying to silence the voices of BIPOC, so he was also being racist.
People replied to his post, pointing out the issues with what he had just written, and instead of apologising, or stepping away to think about what they were saying, the original poster then became aggressive, and started victim blaming. His husband then chimed in, made everything worse, and in the end claimed that the hurt the commenters had caused had led to male knitting designer being admitted to hospital due to a mental health breakdown. As someone who has suffered with mental health issues I can completely appreciate how this situation may have led to him feeling very unwell. Just writing this makes me feel anxious, however, mental health is not an excuse for treating other people poorly.
This weekend, the knitting designer attended a yarn show in the West Midlands. He was there to teach and sell books. At a quiet point during the show, a vendor, who was also a woman of colour, went over to question him about his actions. He responded with aggression, and had to be removed from the show. Meanwhile his husband is carrying on being offensive over on his personal blog and on Facebook.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. It is not ok to behave in this way. The knitting designer tried to claim that just because he was gay he knew what it was like to be in a minority group, and he wasn't being racist.
His words caused hurt and harm.
He has not apologised, or recognised that he was wrong to post in the manner he did.
I'm saying it in my own corner of the internet, because we need to be having this conversation outside the swirling mass of words currently floating around on instagram.
I know you all come here for pretty pictures of spinning, or interesting technical articles. I have a couple of them lined up. But those things only happen when we also have a space where everyone is welcome. Where we can have the tough discussions highlighting the lack of equality in our world, because then we can do the fun things and everyone benefits.
If you've read all this and are just thinking that you'd like to stick to your fibre crafts ask yourself "why do I think that, why am I not listening to the voices of those who are saying that they feel unwelcome or unsafe?" Just because you haven't experienced those things doesn't mean that others haven't. People are saying this is a problem. Those of us who are in a position of privilege need to stand up and say "ok, if you don't feel safe or welcome or represented we need to do something about this"
As ever, my inbox is open if you want to send me an email privately. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to make sure that what I have written is accurate, and respectful. If I have inadvertently caused hurt please tell me. I am open to fixing my mistakes and I apologise in advance. Comments here are open, but to be clear, I will not tolerate any defence of Sockmaticians actions. If you want to tell me to "just stick to the spinning", then I suggest you go and read the letters that go out with the Time Travellers Club each month. The ever educational Penelope Hemmingway wrote this last year (I am very much looking forward to her talk at Summer School in August). Textiles have always been political. They always will.
Hilltop Cloud- Spin Different
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