Natural Fibres


Natural dyes will marry only to natural fibres. This, paired with my desire to make long lasting textiles with a method concious of the long term health of the  land, air and water, means that I employ fibre that is natural and organic, when available. I purchase yarns from Canadian suppliers - Custom Woolen MillsLana Knits and Maurice Brassard et Fils as well as a few others.

Read on below about the characteristics of natural fibres.

- Linen -

Linen is a luxurious workhorse in my textile world. Because of it’s inherent strength it lends itself well to a variety of useful cloth. Namely, kitchen and washroom cloth - towels and washcloths. Of course, it’s a pleasure to wear with it’s cool, smooth hand and heavy drape and makes a beautiful fabric when combined with wool. Bedsheets and pillowcases made of linen, wash well and last for decades or even generations.

Linen is a cellulosic fibre, the bast fibre of the plant is what we weave cloth with. To arrive to cloth form, linen starts in the soil as a flax seed. After a season growing in the field the plant is then harvested, retted and scutched and finally, processed into usable yarn. Yarn to fabric that will only get better with age and use. 

Linen is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, hypoallergenic, biodegradable when it does finally wear out (as all natural fibres eventually do), it is cool to the touch (great for summer wearing), smooth and free of lint, it is breathable and strong. Linen improves and becomes softer with use, it is absorptive, taking up 20% its weight in water and yet, dries very quickly, linen is stronger wet than dry and resists dirt and stains. Linen is conductive and can withstand very high temperatures and is unaffected by agitation. A common characteristic of linen is to wrinkle. Wrinkling, inelasticity and breakage are due to it’s highly crystalline structure. Breakage can come to pass when linen fabric is folded repeatedly in the same place. 

Due to the thirsty nature of linen, the fibre accepts natural dyes readily for long lasting colour.

You can read more about the qualities of linen here.

To care for your linen cloth

  • As a general rule, wash your textile only when necessary.

  • Wash by hand or in washer on high heat with or without pH neutral soap. Linen can handle much agitation.

  • Iron with high heat when very damp. This practice will dry the cloth.

- Organic Cotton -

Organic cotton can be used for a vast variety of textiles - household and wearables. Its soft and washable nature make a great base for washcloths, baby blankets and multi purpose cloths, not to mention that cotton is easy and fun to dye, absorbing up colours from plants just like the thirsty plant that it is. Unbleached, organic cotton gives a clear view of the colour content of a dye plant. Like all natural fibres, cotton is biodegradable; it is also non-allergenic, absorbent and breathable, it cannot hold an electric charge so, lucky for cotton wearers, it won’t cling in dry atmospheres. Like linen and hemp, cotton is stronger when it is wet. Cotton is resistant to moths but, since it's a natural material, can develop mildew if left in a warm, moist place for a long time.

Why organic cotton? The growth of cotton is responsible for no less than 15% of the worlds pesticide use and 77% of crops are irrigated. Given this, I go for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton. The standards state organic growing, processing and manufacturing criteria are met as well as important social standards. Organic crops, however, are not treated with pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides and genetically modified seed is not permited. Conventionally grown cotton receives more insecticide than any other crop worldwide. So, if I can source my materials from an industry that increases biodiversity, improves soil fertility and decreases the use of water while maintaining the cleanliness and purity of waterways (another serious issue of the textile industry), I'll do it.  

Cotton, of the mallow family and gossypium genus, is the most popular natural fibre on the planet, between 20 and 30 million tonnes of it are produced every year worldwide (remember here that 15% of the worlds pesticide use is applied to cotton). And yet, in 2015/2016 only 0.5% of the worlds cotton is certified to be organic.  Most of the worlds organic cotton is grown in India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, the USA, Uganda, Peru, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Kyrgyzstan. Although cotton is most often grown uncoloured, the boll matured into recognizable white fluff, it can be grown in assorted colours - green, brick red and various shades of brown. Check out Fox Fibre to learn more and see those beautiful hues! 

You can read more about the qualities of organic cotton here.

To care for your organic cotton cloth

  • As a general rule, wash your textile only when necessary.

  • Wash in hot water with pH neautral soap (so as not to affect the natural dye applied to the fibre), by hand or in the washer. Cotton can take lots of agitation.

  • Hang to dry. Cotton can though, handle the dryer. You may dry on medium or even high heat.

  • Iron on high heat with steam.

  • Perspiration and anti-perspirants can damage cotton, especially with high temperatures. Do not iron soiled cotton.

- Hemp -

Hemp, another natural and hardworking cellulosic fibre. Hemp can be used for a tremendous variety of goods, industrial and fine- rope, sails, paper, yarns and textiles, canvas, as well as modern building materials such as fibreboard and ‘hempcrete’. All products made from hemp are incredibly strong, yarns and fabric were the original fibre used to make some of the most durable fabric around - canvas, the words genesis from ‘cannabis’. 

Hemp can absorb up to 20% of its weight in water, it is stronger wet than dry and possesses a soft yet durable hand. Hemp, when used often, softens and improves with age and can really be a luxurious cloth.  The fibre takes dye incredibly well, the fabric lasts for so long, is UV resistant (window coverings?!) and is applicable to to a large variety to functions. It’s smooth, cool, quick to dye and easy to clean characteristics are great for wearables and home wares alike. A classic hemp top will live in ones wardrobe for years and bathroom or kitchen towels wick water away so very quickly while becoming dry in short order. Hemp is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

As a crop, hemp, like linen, does not require irrigation or chemicals assistants to hardy growth. In fact, it has been said and studied that hemp can be used in soil remediation practices - stabilizing pH as well as removal of heavy metals and radioactive elements. Since hemp grows so quickly it may also be a boon to the planets old growth forests since the products manufactured from hemp can be used in many of the same applications as wood products. The plant can grow from anywhere from a few feet (usually the food or medicinal varieties) up to 12 feet (fibre and industrial varieties) in a single growing season. When hemp is chosen for fibre in place of crops grown with less sustainable farming or timber harvesting practices, old growth forests health, soil and water health could improve thereby increasing local bio diversity and global health.

You can read more about the qualities of hemp here.

To care for your hemp cloth

  • As a general rule, wash your textile only when necessary.

  • Wash by hand or in washer on high heat with or without pH neutral soap. Hemp can handle much agitation.

  • As with linen, iron with high heat when very damp. This practice will dry the cloth.

- Silk - 

Coming soon.

- Wool - 

Coming soon.

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