I love seeing what people make with my fibres. It pushes me creatively to try new things, and gives me new ideas.
I'm not using Instagram very much at the moment, but if you use the #hilltopcloud I will still see it.
As a side note, the only medium I use for customer service is email. You can use the contact form on this website, or the email address on your order receipt. If you contact me using social media the first thing I will probably ask you to do is email me. I often don't see a social media message for a number of days, but check my email at least a couple of times a day. You will get a much quicker response if you send an email. This also means I can work out who you are, and give you an accurate response. Your social media handle isn't usually a lot of help when I am trying to work out which one of the 100+ Time Travellers Club members you are.
If it's a non-specific question, such as wondering how to spin something, then please come over to the Ravelry group, you can ask the opinion over 1000+ fellow Hilltop Cloud spinners, and as there's never just one right answer that can only be a good thing. It also means our discussion is searchable, can be referenced again in further conversations, and will benefit more people.
Going back to the original point of this post... Pretty pictures of lovely things.
These have all been shared in the Hilltop Cloud Ravelry group, in the 3-monthly prize draw thread. All you need to do is use the current thread to post pictures of spun skeins of yarn, things you woven, knitted or crocheted, and you could win a £25 gift voucher to the shop.
The new thread is just starting up, and the winners from the last thread were picked at the end of the month. Here are my selected highlights!
If you want to know more about any of these pictures head over to the thread, and most people have links to their stash pages, or project pages.
In total there were over 80 posts in the thread this round, so I really do urge you to go and take a look at all the finished items, picking out a small handful to share here is always such an impossible task!
I've managed to take some photos of some spun skeins of my new Heather Silk.
As ever, with this style of blended fibres taking photos is rather tricky, because the multi-tonal effect really plays tricks with the camera sensors. Add in the high shine you get from mulberry silk, and you end up with a very large number of rejected photos!
For each colourway I spun 2 different samples. One was spun using my normal silk draft. Straight from the end , with a moderate degree of twist, and then plied to balance. It creates a smooth, very shiny yarn with excellent drape, and huge amounts of lustre. The other sample was spun using the style advocated by Sara Lamb (author of The Practical Spinners Guide- Silk). This sample was spun from the fold, using small chunks of fibre, with as much twist as I could bear to put it, and then plied with lots and lots of twist. This yarn will be harder wearing, more resistant to abrasion, but isn't quite so shiny, and doesn't drape quote as well.
If you'd like to know more about twist levels in silk then I wrote an article for the Fine edition of Ply magazine a few years ago, and also shared some close up photos on the blog.
If you prefer videos over words, then this video, filmed for last months Non-Wool Club should help.
In addition to effecting the structure of the yarn, the spinning technique also has an effect on the colour. The silk is made up of lots of very thin streaks of different colours .
When you draft straight from the end of the fibre you draft in fibres from multiple streaks of colour. When you draft from the fold you sometimes end up pulling in fibres from just one colour. Spinning from the end produces a yarn where the colours are more blended together, as the act of drafting carries on the blending process. Spinning from the fold produces a yarn where you get more flecks of yarn that are only a single colour.
In the photos below the yarn on the left was spun from the fold, the yarn on the right was spun from the end.
Hopefully if you've been wondering about how this fibre spins that might help answer some of your questions, and help with your design making process if you've already bought some of this fibre.
Firstly, Happy Third Not-Brexit Day!
And with it comes my only bit of public information, make sure you are registered to vote. You can do it online, and is something you need to do if you've recently moved home. If you are a student you can register at your home, and university address, but you should only cast your vote in one location. Being on the electoral register doesn't require you to have a permanent residential address, and you can also do so anonymously if you feel your safety is at risk due to being on the electoral register.
The weather in December can be grim... if you know you are likely to be put off heading out in the rain and cold, then register for a postal vote.
For anyone not in the UK, this is good news, as it means my parcels will carry on going to you in a seamless manner. It also means I can carry on importing fibres from Italy for the next few months and not need to increase prices due to import duties and increased courier costs.
I'm very pleased about this, because I have some new Italian fibres, and I can now carry on expanding the range. These are pure Mulberry Silk, created just like the blended wool tops that we are now all very familiar with. They draft beautifully, and turn in to yarn with really subtle variation, but not so much that they will swamp a lace pattern. The first 3 colours are now in the shop in 50g, 100g and 200g size options.
I've just finished spinning some samples, so keep an eye out for a blogpost in the next few days showing what happens to these fibres when they're turned in to yarn.
We had a lovely time at Bakewell Wool Gathering, with lots of people going home with some fibres they'd not tried before.
Apart from that I've had a very quiet month, there's been the usual autumn cold that wiped me out for a few days. I only managed to squeeze in one shop update due to getting the 12 Days of Christmas parcels ready. They've all gone in the post now, with just a couple of the Mulberry Silk option left if anyone is still wanting a Christmas and New Year treat.
If you're thinking about making your own version (maybe as a guild Christmas party activity?) then I do have some spare bags, and they're now available to purchase.
I do however have a shop update that is in the drying shed right now, and that should be going up in the shop tomorrow. It's not been all work though, I took myself off to Erddig whilst waiting for a sewing machine to be serviced, and had a lovely day. There were apples, spinning wheels, and gardens. I can recommend a visit, I'll be going back with Mum in the summer when the gardens will be in full glory, and all of the hall will be open.
On a personal creative note, this month has mostly been about getting a head start on my Christmas crafting. A few lucky people still get hand made gifts, which sadly means I don't have any photos to share.
There is a handspun jumper that is nearly off the needles though, so fingers crossed for next month.
This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts highlighting bits of equipment that I love. I have paid for all of these items, they're not ones that I have been given. If I've bought them at a show I may have received a slight trade discount, but it's never been one I've asked for, and in all cases I've been prepared to pay the full price. If you're not a guild member it can sometimes to be hard to get a sense on what it's really like to use a piece of equipment. I'll be scrupulously honest, if I like a piece of equipment I'll say so and explain why. If other options are available, and I've tried them I'll explain why I don't like them.
I am a bit of a Lazy Kate zealot. It's always on the equipment list for the spinning workshops I teach, and I emphasise that the "built-in" Lazy Kate with most spinning wheels, is not a Kate, it is simply bobbin storage. A good Kate needs to be separate from your wheel so you can position it to the side and ideally slightly behind you. Techniques like chain plying are made so much more difficult if you're trying to pull the single up past your moving knees and then guide them back to the orifice.
In it's most basic form it can be as simple as a shoe box and some knitting needles, add in some plastic bags below the bobbins to act as resistance, and you actually have a very functional Kate. If I'm just doing a plain 2-ply I am content working with a non-tensioned Kate, but if I have a choice (and cough... I seem to have ended up with multiple choices), I will reach for one that is tensioned every time.
In my possession I currently have...
- A handmade upright Kate in the style of this Ashford one. This one gets used pretty regularly.
- An arched Schacht Kate. I really dislike this one, and never use it, I only still have it as it came with my Matchless spinning wheel.
- A flat base model like this one (though not this exact Kate, but it has upright spikes, and the same tension mechanism). Again, it came with a wheel, I don't use it.
My favourite, and the one I use most is this one by Louet.
It has all the features I look for in a Lazy Kate, it's simple to set up, has the ability to add slight resistance to the bobbin rotation, and will take all of my many different sizes of bobbins, and the many I've come across in workshops. It definitely takes, Schacht, Ashford, Majacraft, Louet, Woolmakers, and Hansen.
This versatility is one of the reasons I love it, a kate that uses 2 upright posts either side of the bobbin support always runs in to trouble with differing length bobbins.
It's a Kate I often take with me to workshops and usually end up lending out. During my course at Summer School numerous people borrowed it, and all were amazed at how well this really simple design works. I think a few were planning on adding it to their Christmas/Birthday list. It's not cheap...and of course the exchange rate of the Pound against the Euro hasn't helped. I suspect if you knew someone who was handy at wood working, and was capable of adding an embedded threaded tension knob it wouldn't be hard to make your own version.
The right kit really can make all the difference to how easy it is to do a task, and particularly for something like chain plying, a lazy kate that offers the Goldilocks sweet spot of resistance to the bobbin rotation is absolutely key. I've tried other kates that use a piece of string with a spring in the groove of the bobbin (in the same way as you brake the bobbin using Scotch tension), and I find that it's either got too much resistance so I'm jerking the bobbin to pull off the singles, or there's not enough resistance to prevent back spin. To add resistance for this model you just alter the angle of the whole Kate by turning the black knob, adjusting the angle, and then tightening it again to fix it in place. Minimal resistance happens when the Kate is nearly horizontal, with the resistance increasing as you bring the spikes closer to upright. I think this shape of kate has advantages over an arched kate because the singles running off a bobbin are never rubbing past or over another bobbin.
It's set up so you can use it with 4 spikes for smaller size bobbins, and then turn it over and relocating the spikes in to the 3 holes for larger size bobbins. However, in my experience I tend to leave it set up with the 4 hole configuration, as it will still hold 2 large bobbins.
So far I've not found a make of bobbin it won't hold, it even works with bobbins that breakdown like my Akwerwork ones, that don't have a flat surface on one end. The only model I can't remember testing it with, and confirming the fit is Lendrum.
The other bonus is of course it's size... if a 4-ply yarn is on your spinning list you can just use a single Kate. When I'm not using it the whole thing gets folded flat and then slid under the sofa.
If you're in the UK there are a few stockists of Louet products, the following list the Kate on their websites, other dealers may be able to order it if you enquire directly.
-Weftblown (not in stock currently, but they will order it in for you)
- The Threshing Barn (Janet doesn't yet operate a webbed shop, so you will have to see her at a fibre festival, or ply phone tag to order it over the phone)
- Hedgehog Equipment (Again, Sarah doesn't run a web shop, but you can order over the phone).
The full list of Louet dealers is on the Louet website.
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.
Hilltop Cloud- Spin Different
Beautiful fibre you'll love to work with.
VAT Reg- 209 4066 19
Dugoed Bach, Mallwyd, Machynlleth,
Powys, SY20 9HR