Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting

How to Fit Fiber Work Into a Full and Multifaceted Life, One Glimpse

5 Comments

Yesterday began early for me. It promised to be a full day with lots of seemingly unconnected tasks and engagements. I really wanted to dye wool though. I’d already steeped marigolds and coreopsis the day before and I had some clean whitish Shetland to play with. After looking through the wonderful natural dye book, Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes, by Rebecca Burgess, I decided to quickly get an alum mordant bath going to prepare the wool I had on hand. 

I’ve taken over half our garage with a dye pot section, a carding section, storage for weird, beautiful driftwood and other gifts from the world I collect on the way. I’ve got a scale out there and some paints set up for my kids. 

So, at around 7:30am, the alum/Shetland mordant bath was going, and my marigolds were on some heat. I weighed 7 ounces of wool to be dyed, and used 0.7 ounces of alum. Not much, but my dye bath operation is small, and I love little batches of specially dyed yarn for weaving or embellishments on crocheted and knitted items. 


Once that was all set, I got on with my morning. Took care of my littles. Made a work call. Took everything off the heat and ran some errands, came back and after rinsing the wool in warm water, put half in with the strained marigold bath and set that to heat, and put a quarter in one bell jar with the coreopsis flowers and bath, and a quarter in with half coreopsis and half marigold dye mix. The jars were set in the sun. 


After an hour on a simmer, I took the marigold bath off the heat and let it cool for the remainder of the day. 

By then it was almost midday and it was time to switch gears completely with my kids and fully engage in what we three were doing. 

Tending to life while tending to the practice of working with wool can be difficult sometimes. Some tasks require a chunk of uninterrupted time. Others can be worked into and throughout a life. I imagine that was how it was done over the ages, but I don’t know for sure. There are chores and responsibilities that lend themselves to certain seasonal tasks. Tending to dye baths can be done while gardening, cleaning up outside, doing laundry, caring for children, and even making that business call. Having a dye pot operation set up outside or in the garage helps as messes are far easier to clean up and create less smelly havoc than in a kitchen. 

I was able to rinse the wool after dinner. It is still drying. A late in the day rain storm put an end to the sharp, hot, drying sun. I’ll post pics of the final outcome soon. 

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Author: healinghandcrafting

I am a psychologist and a fiber enthusiast. I have a deep interest in the healing effects of handcrafting, and its place in our common histories.

5 thoughts on “How to Fit Fiber Work Into a Full and Multifaceted Life, One Glimpse

  1. Elizabeth Wayland Barber’s book, Women’s Work, makes the argument that, from prehistoric times, the fiber arts were primarily the venue of women precisely because they *could* be managed around raising children. You’re continuing a age-old tradition!

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    • How did I miss this comment from almost two months ago! I will have to read that book! Thank you for sharing it. I think this is all so incredible. Fiber art is such a strong tie to our ancient history. I find that to be so grounding and completely inspiring.

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  2. It really is the Zen in my life – I need it to balance out the kids, work, and household stuff. Love your set-up.

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  3. Thanks again for the Creative Blogger Award! I re-nominated you–no need to go through the whole thing again if you don’t want to, just showing my appreciation! My post is here: https://alexandknits.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/creative-blogger-award-nomination/

    Liked by 1 person

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