Handmade Inspiration

The Story

As long as I can remember I have been making. As a young child I learned to knit, embroider and sew by hand. In high school I was designing and sewing my own clothes, this of course gave me a wonderful skill to break every school dress code there was. As new home owners my sewing turned to creating unique quilts and home furnishings, followed by years of continuous knitting as our children were born. A few years ago I started to create fibre art pieces and this renewed my long lost interest of stitching and embroidery. All the skills I had learned as a very small child I was now utilizing all the time as a way to create. What I didn’t know was the interesting turn this interest was about to take.

Old Ways Become New (and eco-friendly) Again

One day, while working on a fibre art piece I decided to research dyeing. Stumbling through mountains of information on the internet I came across a small article on “natural dyeing”. I discovered the ancient history surrounding this dyeing process, and discovered through blogs people all over the world that are still working with the old methods of extracting natural dyes from plants. Intrigued I read more and more on the subject and then jumped in with both feet with my first natural dyeing projects. I was hooked. I started to dye threads and fabrics for fibre art pieces, plus a few silk scarves. I learned about plants in my garden that would work as dye plants, as well as plants that grew wild in the ditches and fields. One day a  neighbour  noticed one of my weird collections going on (I was collecting fallen bark, as you do!) and it resulted in a conversation where I explained my natural dyeing. By the end of the conversation my neighbour said he would keep a few of his past-prime plants for me so that I could make dyes from them.

About a month later our neighbour knocks on our door with a huge box of marigolds he had dead-headed. My initial thought was “jackpot”, after all who doesn’t love a box of dead flowers! Within a few days a bright yellow dye pot of marigold was bubbling away, and in the back of my mind I wanted to come up with a way to thank my neighbour. I wanted to make him something dyed with his marigolds. But what do you make a retired gentleman? A marigold dyed silk scarf wasn’t his style. After some serious thinking, and some wool yarn popped into the dye pot, the Coffee Sweater was born.

From that first Coffee Sweater my enthusiasm grew. I expanded my dyeing range. I also discovered eco-printing, a beautiful way to dye silk scarves and other fabrics. I sourced Canadian produced wool that is milled less than 100 km from home. I focused on local. I focused on handmade. The Coffee Sweaters started selling in shops, and I knit a lot.

My focus is now strongly focused on using as many locally sourced materials as possible. All my yarns are dyed in micro batches of hand-crafted natural dyes. All my items are completely knit by hand by “me”. I love creating products that are more natural and eco-friendly, and are made by hand. Products with a soul.

My product line continues to expand, each piece is unique. The range now includes Coffee Sweaters, Coffee Mug Sweaters, Coffee Press Sweaters, Wine Wraps, plus sachets and ornaments. There are always a few new items being worked on, all with a focus on natural dyeing. Keep checking back on this site and you will be bound to find something cool and handmade.

(By the way, certain items are available in minimum quantities at attractive wholesale pricing for shops and boutiques focused on eco-friendly, handmade, or Canadian made. Please contact Debra by email at hunterphotographics@shaw.ca for more information.)

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