My “Slow Fashion” Project – Part 1

A couple of years ago I set a personal challenge to make at least one complete outfit entirely from fabric that I had spun, woven, and sewn myself.  This is where that project starts.

When I was a relatively new spinner I made a common newbie mistake, and treated a raw fleece I was washing a little too impatiently.  It wasn’t a total disaster, but there was a little  felting on the cut ends.

I did what I usually do when I want a “solid”color, which is to dye the fleece in a selection of my base colors, then blend them on the drum carder.  Unfortunately I also chose this fiber-blending project to try using a swing picker for the first time.  It was not, on the whole, what I had expected.  The picker only exacerbated the problem, tearing the fiber where the ends had felted together.  I had also not done a good enough job removing the second cuts from the fleece.  The result was a fairly neppy batt. I was not about to let that stop me.  I found I liked the tweedy pops of color that the neps made, so I decided to think of it as a “design element” and called it good.

I let those batts sit for a number of years as Life happened.  When I decided to start this project I realized these neppy, tweedy batts would be perfect for plain twill yardage. I spun a bit over 11 oz of wool into a bit over 3000 yards of singles at roughly 4500 yards per pound – about the size of heavy-duty sewing thread.

Blocking singles for #weft #handdyed #handspun #handwoven #Weaving #weaversofinstagram #spinnersofinstagram

A post shared by Alison Russell (@alicatfiberarts) on

This was the easy part.  Next I had to spin enough similar yarn for warp!

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12 thoughts on “My “Slow Fashion” Project – Part 1

    1. I’ve had the *idea* for a while, I just didn’t have the time to put it into motion! I’ve spent the better part of the last two years as a production handspinner. That had to be put on hold temporarily (I hope!) earlier this year, giving me more time for personal projects and adding to my skill base 🙂

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      1. It’s definitely something! It makes you hyper-aware of all the decisions that need to be made to execute properly. We’ve lost so much awareness of how much real effort and energy goes into something as simple as clothing because we’re not expending that energy ourselves anymore. Many people would be stunned to realize that 200 years ago (at least here in the US) the textiles in a storage chest would have been *considerably* more valuable than the chest itself!

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  1. All of my projects are based on “years”. Because I have so many, they take time, and yes, life happens. I hadn’t spun in a year because of a slipped disc + kittens who shredded my drivebands daily for instance… 😉

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    1. I’m so sorry about your back 😦 I’d have a hard time coping with not spinning for that long! I’ve been using my handspun for so long that I find I dislike most millspun – not even the “good stuff.” It just doesn’t feel right to me!

      I’ve been there with the cats! There was a period of time where I had to pull my driveband off the wheel and wrap it in a plastic bag to keep him from chewing it apart on a daily basis!

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      1. There is so much more depth to hand dyed and handspun yarn, isn’t there, even if the knitted result is a uniform colour there is subtle heathering which brings it to life. Plus the extra bonus of getting to be creative with the same chunk of wool at least 3 times! 😀

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      2. Absolutely! I usually dye wool in separate colors and then blend them, rather than mixing the dyes together first, for that exact reason. I also find that handspun has much greater elasticity than millspun yarn. The commercial stuff just isn’t stretchy enough for me anymore, now that I’ve gotten used to something better! I recently knitted a baby sweater out of acrylic for a friend, and I hated every minute of it 😦

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