News

Volunteers weaving mats for homeless with plastic bags

Thursday was the weekly gathering among the ladies at Hope Foursquare Church in Snohomish, but this is no knitting circle.
Nope. This is a crocheting circle, said Sondra Hirsch.
And you won’t find anyone making tea cozies or pot holders. Nor will you find anyone spinning yarns.
They spin something else.
It’s plarn, said Hirsch, with a warm smile.
Plarn is short for plastic yarn made out of old grocery bags.
In assembly line fashion, the women cut up the bags and crochet the plarn into soft, waterproof plastic mats for the homeless to sleep on.
It is a labor of love, said Marcia LaBossiere.
A labor that lasts two days.
It takes about 50 hours and 600 bags to make one 3 x 6 foot mat, but the ladies are happy to do it.

Volunteers weaving mats for homeless with plastic bagsKING 5

In Place

Dorothy Caldwell’s talk illustrates how her textile art is an ongoing exploration of a sense of place. Her long time interest in marks humans make on the landscape creating patterns of settlement, agricultural practices and built heritage are translated onto cloth through dyeing, printing and stitching. Her current practice involves collecting earth pigments, plant matter and objects in remote landscapes and incorporating them in her work. This direction enables her to make a deeper connection between her home in Hastings, Ontario and the places where she travels. Dorothy will tell the stories of her fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic, the Australian outback and rural Japan and India. By using materials collected in the field whether far away or close to home, the pieced, layered and stitched surfaces tangibly absorb and reflect her artistic journey.

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Silkworms Fed Dyed Mulberry Leaves To Produce Coloured Silk

Fact: Snails fed coloured paper will poop coloured squiggles. Now, silkworms are getting in on the technicolor action: a recent report shows that, after eating mulberry leaves treated with fabric dye, regular larvae will produce fairy-floss-tinted fibres. They’re like biological 3D printers for producing coloured silk.
The findings, published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal, point to an effort to find a more sustainable solution to traditional dyeing methods.
Generally, these require lots and lots of water that, in the end, becomes a chemically contaminated toxic hazard, but applying the pigment before consumption requires way less H2O. Out of seven azo dyes tried, Direct Acid fast red gave the most brilliant result — strong enough to give the wiggly little thangs themselves a rosy blush.
It’s pretty crazy to think of silkworm farms turned into terrestrial rainbows, with both coloured leaves (before) and coloured cocoons (after). Perhaps, with enough training, these little living looms can simply weave coloured scarves and clothing for you.

Silkworms Fed Dyed Mulberry Leaves To Produce Coloured SilkGizmodo

Norway broadcaster NRK to show 12 hours of knitting, sheep-shearing in ‘slow TV’ broadcast

Hoping to take slow TV to a new level, Norway’s public broadcaster will air 12 hours of knitting from Friday night, complete with needle tips and a how-to on knitting a cover for a Harley Davidson motorbike.
Broadcaster NRK, a veteran in quirky programming, will also feature an attempt to break a world sheep-shearing record currently held by an Australian shearing group…

…Then from midnight, a team of eight will attempt to break the world record for shearing a sheep and making a sweater from its wool.
The current record for the back to back challenge — from the back of a sheep to the back of a person – stands at four hours and 51 minutes, held by the Merriwa Jumbucks from New South Wales.

Norway broadcaster NRK to show 12 hours of knitting, sheep-shearing in ‘slow TV’ broadcastABC News

‘Noisy’ Cramlington library knitters no longer welcome

A knitting group said it was no longer allowed to meet at a library because its needles are “dangerous” and its members are too noisy.
The Knit ‘n’ Natter group met at the library in Cramlington, Northumberland once a week to knit replica anatomical parts for training NHS midwives.
But now the library has moved and the knitters said Northumberland County Council had barred them.
The council said there was not enough room for the large group.
But a spokesman said the women were still welcome if they split into smaller groups.
Since the group began three years ago its 20 to 30 members have knitted thousands of garments for premature and sick babies.
They have also made 1,500 pairs of knitted breasts and are currently knitting wombs for midwives.

‘Noisy’ Cramlington library knitters no longer welcomeBBC News

There’s a maximum-security prison in Brazil where male inmates are expert knitters

Brazil’s Arisvaldo de Campos Pires is like any other maximum security penitentiary — inmates’ crimes range from armed robbery to murder, and armed guards patrol almost every inch of the prison. Except there’s one small quirk: many of the facility’s prisoners are becoming professional knitters.
As part of a prison-wide program called the Lotus Flower project, inmates are crocheting high-end clothing in exchange for a modest salary and — the real kicker — reduced prison sentences. The program, which began in 2009 after Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes realized she was going to need help scaling up to meet demand for her Doiselles brand, has been wildly successful; over 100 inmates have now participated. And unlikely as it may seem, it’s been a male-only affair. While Guimaraes originally approached the penitentiary with a proposal to train female prisoners to produce clothing, they decided to work the men instead.
The incentives are so good that inmates aren’t merely willing, but are eager to start knitting. For every three days spent knitting, male inmates earn a full-day reduction in their sentences. And they get paid a salary — albeit a modest one — too: the workers earn 75% of minimum wage, a quarter of which is put aside and handed over upon their release.

There’s a maximum-security prison in Brazil where male inmates are expert knittersQuartz

Dress to kill in this synthetic spider silk outfit

Spider silk is about four or five times stronger than steel, but it is remarkably lightweight. So, what would it feel like to walk around in a suit woven of the stuff?
Spiber, a startup in northern Japan, is showing off a dress made from synthetic spider silk. The firm is one of several groups looking into how to make and use artificial spider silk, a task that has proven to be very challenging for scientists.
The electric-blue dress was created from a material Spiber calls Qmonos (from kumonosu, or spider web, in Japanese). The material is extremely strong and more flexible than nylon.
The high-collared cocktail dress, on display at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo, was created to demonstrate the technology behind Qmonos.
The territorial nature of spiders makes them difficult to farm like silkworms. So instead, Spiber developed a technology that uses synthesized genes and coaxes bacteria to produce fibroin, the structural protein in spider silk. Spiber then uses technology it developed to culture the microbes efficiently and weave the fibroin into fabric.
Apart from clothing, Qmonos could potentially be be used to make film, gels, sponges, artificial blood vessels, and nanofibers.

Dress to kill in this synthetic spider silk outfitc|net

Guerilla knitters take over the world

Yarn-bombing is a global craze which is much like graffiti for people who would not ordinarily break the rules.
It has reached Adelaide and popped up most recently in the hills town of Stirling.
Hundreds of school children, scouts, craft club members and individuals spent hours creating knitted and crocheted works to display outside the Coventry Library.
“I knew it would really spark the imagination of the community up here. I just knew it’s the sort of thing our community would really enjoy,” said children’s librarian Jo Kaeding.
She helped organise the yarn-bombing display as part of the Adelaide Fringe festival.

Guerilla knitters take over the worldABC News

South Australian Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild 50th anniversary

For their 50th birthday celebrations in May 2013, the South Australian Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild wants to decorate their guild hall with bunting. Not just the usual bunting made with triangular flags, but bunting made from hand shapes cut from fabric. Therefore the more hands the better the bunting.

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How basketry preserved a people

The story of Zulu basketry is one of revival. The craft was dying because of the introduction of tin and plastic containers. A Swedish minister, Kjell Lofroth, and his wife, Bertha, witnessed the decline in local crafts. When drought struck in the late 1960s and people in the rural KwaZulu-Natal Province faced starvation, Mr. Lofroth began the Vukani (“Wake up and get going”) Arts Association to help single women support their families. Only three elderly women knew how to make baskets, but they taught others. A market, and the craft, flourished.

How basketry preserved a peopleThe Christian Science Monitor