British Wool, Diary Working with Wool, process, What's new?

Ancient Tools, Wool and Time at Archie Browns, Truro

Jamie Mills, who works at Archie Browns, a Health Food Shop, Vegetarian Cafe and Deli,  asked me a while ago to show some of my recent work in the cafe.

With gratitude I accepted the kind offer and since July a  show of photos and and a small installation (hand spun, plant dyed and hand knitted).

The photos are documentation of wool processes, from a visit at the Natural Fibre Company, Launceston, Bosigran Farm in Penwith, and my own processes of spinning and dying.

The exhibition is s glimpse into my art practise, where I am exploring wool as a sustainable material, natural and local resources and slow processes as a reflection and invitation to wellbeing.

The fibre, I used, came from the Natural Fibre Mills  and is their carding waste.

Occasionally  during in the carding processes something goes wrong, or there is a overlap between two carding lots, say Shetland and Wensleydale, (one could say its a mongrel) and the fibre can not be used for further processes.The shawl also does demonstrate my first adventure into dying with natural plant dyes, in this case onion skins, weld (yellow) and woad (blue).

Artist Statement

Wool is a living material, its connotations of clothing and keeping human mankind warm goes back to the beginning of humanity.

Wool provides the link, between our history and our presence, which I feel in my hands while engaging with a raw fleece, while quietly sitting watching how my hand spindle turns a cloud of something unformed into a form, a yarn.

The yarn becomes a symbol, it is the umbilical cord to the land, which feeds and clothes us.

The pieces, I created from this yarn become the witnesses of the time spend and an embodied holder the memory of this time: they invite reflection about our choices how we pass our time.

Wool becomes my companion in my daily enjoyment and engagement, the slow movement of a spindle, of a wooden needle grounds me, slows down time and lets my breath become slow and deep, guides me back into the presence. Wool speaks to people, brings back memories, asks to be touched, to be held and invites to use their hands and cherish the fruits of their hands, again.

Wool asks for tools and company, in such it becomes the vehicle to initiate collaborations with other artist, craftspeople and sometimes musicians.

Wool is my tool and aide to heal my own connection to the land and through my work and my invitations to others to share my vision and hope: fostering reflections towards a healed relationships with our environment, the one and only world we are living in.

British Wool, Christiane Berghoff, Craft and Making, Diary Working with Wool, Local, wellbeing, Wool and People

What creates long term and positive Change for the planet we are living on?

What creates change?
Fear can create change on the short-term, it can modify behaviour to avoid negative consequences .
On the long-term it is the positive experience, like sincere praise and appreciation which will lead to wanting to change for the positive. It is a challenging realisation that in the end only compassion and kindness will initiate healing, starting with ourselves and then reaching out to others people, to all beings on this planet .

Kindness

In our family we do buy our groceries predominantly at our local farmers market, country market and local shops. Only what we can’t buy there, we buy in a supermarket, even then we rather use the local Coop , as it is a franchise run by local people!

There is more than the rational reasoning behind it, to buy local as a means to support local economy, avoiding food miles etc. There is a very important human and emotional factor in this; over time we got to know the people behind the stalls, become more in tune with the natural seasons of our part of the world and feel more strongly part of our local community! Going shopping becomes something to look forward to rather than a chore, it’s meeting friends and sharing there joys and challenges in grow the food we cherish! Then your relationship to our food also changes, we value  and enjoy it so much more, as we know we can enjoy it with a good conscious .
Sometimes I find myself in a supermarket in front say some avocados, I do like them very much, but then I realise they come from Peru or Uganda, and I leave them as there are far too much air or freight miles attached to them. I will wait for the Turkish or Spanish avocados when they are in season at the end of the summer!
A few days later I went to the Trevalyn Farm Shop on the Helston Road, and there were, my Spanish avocados, small and ripe!
It also reminds me, that we’d live in an age of instant gratification. Waiting for a seasonal crop to come around , learning to enjoy what is locally available, requires a shift in thinking and feeling!

Whats that got to do with Wool and Making?

The same principle applies, using local or at least British Wool, reduces the environmental cost on extensive product travel and supports the local economy . The moment we start to make something ourselves, we learn patience and perseverance again. If we combine  local material and hand making we create a stronger bond not only to what we make, but also to our community and the place where we live.

Excerpt from the Campaign for Wool Website

The Campaign for Wool was initiated by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and launched in 2010 in the UK. It is supported by sheep farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and wool lovers across the globe. Its simple agenda is to encourage greater understanding and use of real wool and its many natural and sustainable assets. In five years it has spread from the UK to fifteen countries internationally, has attracted millions of social media followers and in 2014 achieved media coverage valued at nearly $ 50 million. Funded by the leading wool grower organisations of the world, the Campaign for Wool has a long-term agenda to maintain a high-profile for wool as the superior natural fibre and works in partnership with wool industry partners globally. – See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.com/news-item/surfaces-2015/#sthash.

Working with local and British wool has changed my perception of clothing in a very deep and profound way. My awareness about the environmental impact of production of actually everything we consume has become a constant companion in my thinking. I am aware of my choices and where I can make decision with a lesser impact, I can choose to support producers by buying local and fair trade and organic as much as I can. It sometimes means waiting, for the right time, for the right item to be available to me.

image

I spin and knit, daily, meditating, learning to be with the process , learning to be with the time it takes.

British Wool, Craft and Making, Diary Working with Wool, process

Spinning Blue

Sitting at the Old Coastguard and I had set myself the task to finish the mittens off and the cushion cover. No big deal! (She said…….)
 
Also, I took with me a bit of the wool dyed with Woad from last weeks dying experience!
Fatal! It is so much fun to play with the bits, creating variegated yarn, looking at the bright blue sea! Bliss!
Why? Why is spinning such a fascinating thing to do? Spinning in my world is a very intuitive activity, it is all about hand and eye coordination, concentration to “draw” the right amount of fleece out , in order to create a reasonable even yarn. It seems to occupy a special part in the brain, it is predominantly about the feel of the hand and the wool and the spindle. Spinning does quite my mind, so much more than knitting and crochet! This might be because it is still new to me, I am not sure…………?
And I am slowly discovering ways of exploring different ways of creating yarn, from just plain coloured fleece, or carding different tones together to achieve tweedy yarn, by having two coloured wool in a way parallel in my hand. 
I am still so in awe about the woad dyeing, the blue colour is so alive, even in the pale blue of the exhausted dye vat. 
Diary Working with Wool, Wool and People

A Yellow Day – Dying with Onion skins

On Wednesday, 4. February I run a wool dying workshop with onion skins with Bettina Holland, a 2.year student. Myself, I am new to natural dying and find a fascinating process as the is always a “surprise” element in there! I love dying with onion skins as it is so simple, no mordants maybe a bit of pre-soaking with vinegar and the dye bath can be tipped out to water plants and in an ideal world the exhausted skins could go on the compost! We used a rather large pot and there for ended up with a fairly pale color. When I was dying wool skeins and flees last summer at home, I used a smaller domestic sauce-pan and archived a strong burnt orange colour.

Dying with Onionskins

We dyed skeins of wool and unspun fleece. I also put in a small skein of pale indigo dyed wool and it came out in a gentle mottled and variegated tone.

As fascinating as the dying processes are I intent to keep to a very selective range. I am interested in Woad and Weld, blue and yellow and there for green as almost human input to the natural sheep fleece colours.

This year I intend to plant in gardens of some of my supportive friends around Penzance some Woad and Weld, in order to experience the effect of working with fresh plants rather then with powder.

The dying process opens of new avenues for exploring textures and carding dyed fleece with undyed fleece.

In the carding waste was for example, some reddish brown Alpaca and I carded it with white and greys, mixing the silky soft alpaca with more wire wool! it gives a very unique yarn and it is interesting to spin.

Wool and People

#wellmaking FlowerGarden at LoveMia in Porthleven

We we were a small group and enjoyed the benefit of getting to know each other better and sharing our crafting stories! It was enjoyed by everyone!

Diary Working with Wool

Making skeins

Making Skeins

i spend the morning spinning with this almost white fleece, I don’t know what breed it is as it comes from the carding waste. It has a beautiful lustre when it comes of the cob ( the cob is the wool which comes of the spindle). It was very still and quiete in the studio, the 1. Years are going through their induction phase.

Later on I wound the yarn from the cob into skeins with the help do a niddy noddy. When I mentioned to my partner first that I needed to use a niddy noddy, he thought I was joking and making it up.

Mine came from Carol Grace, retired Textile lecturer and it is a very useful tool to wind yarn into skeins when no helping “arms” are around.

The skeins are the next step of preparation for dying the yarn.

The Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Cornwall is holding coming Friday an Indigo Dying day and I will attend.

It is quite humbling for me to see the fruits of my labor, by Friday , I will have 5 skein of whitish yarn. I didn’t clock the time, because being with the spinning, the process, the hand movements, which slowly but surely becoming more familiar is what holds my fascination. The feel and the texture of the fleece and  the still lingering smell of sheep bring the origin of my material back to me. The memory of an  afternoon spend on Bosigran farm, even though we had missed the sheering, the sheep and billy goats were still about.

Working with very little processed wool feels like going back to a source material, something basic and still so  essential ……

How does one give a reflective commentary about a meditative and grounding experience? It has to be experience, to be embodied , become part of life………………

The studio is deserted, students gone home, it is still, I can hear the traffic, the late afternoon light begins to fade, I long to be outside with my spindle……..

Diary Working with Wool

Spinning in the Grease

Raw Shetland wool spun in the grease
Raw Shetland wool spun in the grease

Friday , 10. Oct. 2014

it is quite here on a Friday afternoon, people go home early.

I get lost in the process of spinning.

The rhythmic movements, repeating, spin, draw, wind unto the spindle, spin……. The fleece feels sticky, after a while there is on my finger brown grease residue. The yarn feels rough, I am pleased about a reasonable consistency in the thickness . I realise, I hardly notice the smell anymore.

Another small bucket full of fleece is washed and will dry over the week-end.

alongside I am listening to some Scandinavian or far more correct Sami music, Joiks, songs often with out words.

Spinning and listing to ancient music evokes a strong sense of appreciation in me. We are linked with our ancestors and in rediscovering these old links we can strengthening our sense of belonging to this earth.

Diary Working with Wool

Working with Raw Wool

Today is my 2. Day on my residency at Camborne College. I will keep a diary throughout my time here.
I appreciate so much to be given the chance to share my passion about wool,particular local and British with the students on the BA Conteporay Creative Pracises.

Friday, 10. Oct 2914
I am officially here now, with tag, email and internet log in!
Monday was my first day and I arrived with 6 sacks of wool!
The wool ranges from a Shetland fleece, I was given earlier this year for my birthday ( in conjunction with a lovely old spinning wheel), fleece from Bosigrian Farm on the North Coast of Penwith and carding discharge from the Natural Fibre Company in Launcton. Along side a big bag with spindles, carders and a niddy noddy ( skein winding tool, no joke! ).
Today, like Monday, I am washing the Shetland fleece, bit by bit, soaking with laundry detergent, rinsing, putting into a washing machine to spin and let it try.
In between I have picked out some fleece and I am carding it “in the grease” meaning unwashed. This is a very new experience for me, my hands love it, all the lanolin!
Today I will try to spin some of the raw wool.
The whole process give a strong in depths feeling to the material.
My thoughts wander to times when this was nessity for clothing people…….. Every piece of clothing we wear, starts with a spun thread….

Wool and People

Nalebinding – My daily Practise

Nalebinding – My Daily Practise


The hand spun yarn, Wensleydale locks and White Shetland slows down the process even more. The ends don’t felt and I knot them, which creates a resistance in the movement, and yet I persist .
Sitting in a very busy cafe in Totnes ,deeply absorbed in my movements , thought fleeting in and out……. Last night my mind needed a quite movement and soft chanting sounds to be able to settle into relaxation before going to sleep. My mind was troubled.
I had come to Totnes to attend a evening about GMO, the most prominent speaker was Vandana Shiva among a very diverse range of talks. It end with a video address by Deepark Shopra, a passioned call to action. The fact about the damage directly on humans and animals through consumption of GMO food was shocking as was the absurdity of of manipulation of science, politics and power.
Small scale farming based on traditional and organic methods feed 70% of the world population, while the remaking 30% of industrial farming is destroying wide stretches of land which becomes dead and useless.
People like Vandana Shiva advocate for the farming communities and pressure governments to take action against giants like Monsanto .
It is so easy to forget all about it, it is easier to slip back into everyday life….. And yet, everyday we make choices, where we put our money, whom we support , how we life, what we consume , how much we or how little we consume.
It is our choice to remain either part of the problem and live as if these threads as the life we know doesn’t exist and as we have no responsibility for what we leave behind for future generations. Or if we change, reassess, what are our priorities in life and what really matters; we can choose to support local and organic food producers to strengthen local and independent economy.
We can make the choice to reevaluate our real needs in everyday life. Living a simpler life…..simpler food, simpler clothing………….
I pick up my small wooden needle and thread my hand spun wool, my daily engagement with a ancient technique and and a sustainable material becomes a daily meditation, becomes the thread I can hang onto .

Wool and People

MA Interim Show HALFWAY HOUSE

Tomorrow the show for the MA courses in Falmouth ( Woodlane campus, 6-9pm) opens.

The part-time student  taken part with a group show in the Garden Studio.

Here is a glimpse of my  contribution and a few thoughts……

Wool is my medium and my companion.
Wool is renewable and sustainable.
Wool is warmth, comfort and calm.
Wool teaches me respect for the sheep.
Wool teaches me patience and perseverance.
Wool connects me to the origin of our cloth.
Wool connects me to the land and to life.