Friday, August 20, 2010

100% Factory-Free: Handspun, Handwoven Quilt Project (Part 1)

I'm starting a new, major project today!

A friend of mine has placed an order for a custom-made, handspun, handwoven quilt.  I'm pretty excited about doing this because it will be my first of what I hope will be many more large projects creating beautiful, practical, and durable goods from my farm that are 100% factory-free.  I've done lots of other smaller projects (jewelry, purses, etc.), but nothing approaching the scale of an entire queen-sized quilt.

By factory-free, I mean that EVERY material used has been grown on my farm, and EVERY step of the processing, from raw material to finished product, has been done by me, here on the farm, by hand.  How often do you have the opportunity to own an entire quilt that has never, at any point, passed through a factory?

The quilt will be made of wool from my own flock of Icelandic sheep.  I shear the wool myself, then wash, dry, pick, card, spin, ply, weave, and stitch it.  I estimate that this quilt will contain more than 3 miles of double-ply yarn (which means that I spin 6 miles of single-ply yarn, then spin it back on itself to make it two-ply, a total of 9 miles of spinning).

The quilt squares will be individually woven by hand on my set of Quilt Weaver looms from Hazel Rose Looms.  Then the squares will be assembled into the Maple and Oak Leaf pattern I designed.  The colors will be the natural colors of the sheep, so no dyes will ever be used on this quilt.

I expect this project to take me a few months to complete.  I'll post updates here periodically, to show how it's progressing.

Today, I'm starting with the very first step:  Choosing the wool.  My customer wanted his quilt made from lamb's wool, which is a little more expensive, but it's softer than the wool of an adult sheep.

One of the fun things about getting a custom quilt direct from me is that you get to see the sheep who provided the wool.  Here are the sheep who gave their lamb fleeces for this quilt:




I don't have any of the beige colored lamb's wool in my inventory at the moment, so that will come from my fall shearing, in October.  It will probably come from this handsome lamb:


Next step:  Preparing the wool.  Stay tuned!


BaileyGirl5 said...

I love this idea! Have you ever read the Awakening Land by Conrad Richter? The main character's son needs a suit for his graduation and there is no cloth to be found in the town. She says "get the shears" and they go out and start working and she ends up making a suit practically from the sheep's back to her son's back. I have always loved that part of the book.

I'm so intrigued and I will be very interested in your updates. Good luck!!

Nancy Chase said...

I've never read it, but it sounds like I might like it!

When I was a kid, I read Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, a fantasy series based loosely in Welsh mythology. In one of the books, the main character has to do various tasks like forging his own sword and weaving his own cloak. Even as a child, I thought that would be an amazing project to do.

Now, all these years later, here I am! :-)

Ernie said...

I love the colors of the lamb's wool and seeing which lambs they come from.

You have such beautiful animals, they really are a treat.

Ulanova and Windsor are just gorgeous and Xenophon's coloring is truly spectacular!