Crafting in Co. Clare
We catch up with our columnist Jennifer Lienhard of Apple Oak Fibre Works
It’s been a busy few months, with lots of different things happening, including…..
- Finished the flax project
- One week of intensive dyeing
- Rocked the RDS
The flax project with the students from the ALFA secondary school went extremely well.
After 6 days, spread over 6 weeks, the students learned how to:
- Harvested, dry and ret our own grown flax
- Built the tools for processing the flax into fibre using saws, hammers and power tools
- Learn’t the crafts of spinning on drop spindles and weaving small sample pieces on cardboard looms
- We also looked at the history of flax in Ireland both locally and nationally.
All this was finished off with a an intense week of processing flax into fibre, spinning into yarn, indigo dyeing of linen cloth and weaving four large collaborate pieces.
We worked with 4 groups of 4 students each, circulating between building weaving frames, flax processes, dyeing, weaving and of course cooking!
Our aim was to create banners, which they will use in their play as focal points and backdrops. The woven pieces were designed in relation to anything flax and it was fascinating to watch how each group created something entirely different to the next.
A very exciting part of the process was the indigo dyeing. I had to scour and sew the fabric at home, which came from a flaxmill in Derry, where they still in part use their homegrown flax.
The students came up with their own designs for the fabric on the spot, they had clamps and string available to create patterns. Some design became very mathematical on how to place the clamps in order to create a certain pattern and I had to hold my breath a couple of times, wondering if we set the clamps correctly!
Others come from the kitchen! I love dyeing with avocado stones – a beautiful blush pink. The soaking water of black beans reminds me of blue skies and stormy clouds, and mint tea produces a beautiful green when you add a bit of iron to it.
Turmeric yields yellow, just like your curry, while onion skins can vary from saturated oranges, golds, ochre and even dark green. Carrot tops, red cabbage, lemon peels, blackberries – they all yield colours from green to yellow to purple to blue. Yes, what to some people will be compost is a plant dyer’s treasure trove!
Finally we finished the week, we were all happy, proud, but also exhausted!
Now we are planning on exhibiting our work once the final touches are finished. All in all a very exciting project! I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
Knitting and stitching Show in Dublin
Some of you might have seen and even popped in at our booth in the RDS in Dublin earlier this month. This was our first big show and it went great!
We were delighted to see all the interest in plant dyed yarns and met many talented and interesting people! Albina from http://www.lbhandknits.com/was also present and had joined us for the four days with beautiful patterns and professional top of the hat advice.
Of course, what you can’t see at a show like this, is all the madness before the event!
The one week dyeing, where I had to send my family packing to friends so I could use the entire house and cover it in fluff!
Dyeing from 9am to 7pm for 7 days in order to build up enough stock for the show. Some might wonder why I didn’t spread the work over the weeks before, but remember, I had the flax project to get together right up until 2 weeks before the show and that project took a lot of time.
It was our first big event and I didn’t have a clue what was involved concerning health and safety statements, insurance cover, electricity for the booth and so much more. On the day of set up it was amusing to see the wrapping of boxes and crates flying left, right and centre from other exhibitors and I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one trying to make it work.
One of the most enjoyable experiences I had, was driving my husband’s enormous Renault Master van and I can tell you it is quite a difference to a Toyota Yaris, my usual car! However, the absolute horror of driving it through Dublin was quickly cured by realising that everybody else was a lot smaller than you and therefore jumped up the sidewalk.
Driving in Dublin has never been so pleasurable!
All in all it was a great week and we all returned home tired but happy. Hopefully we will be back next year again!
What’s happening next..
Now we are busy restocking, and redesigning our little shop outlet at home to make it more accessible. We are still setting up our online shop on etsy at present, but we will be setting up our own website in the near future.
Excitingly, we are also going to be featured as ‘Dyer of the month’ for January at http://handmadestudios.org . Our yarn will be available there for the month. Also, I will have a lovely lady coming to do a two day work experience and I am presently working on easy little natural dye booklets, which can be cheaply purchased and easily downloaded in the near future. Dyeing kits will soon follow and if you are interested in any of our work and products feel free to sign up to our newsletter for discounts, freebies and info.
Last but not least I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!
Jenny works from her home in County Clare with her husband Tristan and three children. She was formerly trained as a kindergarten teacher and then as a garden designer; before returning to her first love; colour and yarn. Her shop, Apple Oak Fibre Works can be found here on Etsy.