The Simply Pidge Process using Sustainable Practices. Green, Eco and Permie.
Here at Simply Pidge it is important that there is sustainability throughout the creative process. So first, Michelle sources British organic fleece that is butter soft and suitable for wearables.
The fleece is dyed using acid dyes. The 'acid' in acid dyes refers to the way the dye is 'fixed' to the fleece and in its most basic form, is vinegar. Michelle uses food grade citric acid to ensure the results are predictable and colour fast. But in doing so, all dye is exhausted during the process (that is, taken up on the fleece) so that none is thrown away. There is also no plastic used in the dyeing process. The heating to set the dyes, is done quickly in a microwave to use the least energy possible. The fleece is placed in a reusable container that can be microwaved, thus ensuring there is no waste plastic when the dyeing process is complete.
Quite a lot of water is used in wetting the fleece before dyeing can take place, but this same water is held in boxes and used to rinse the fleece when the dyeing is done. As the dyes are all exhausted, the resultant water is then used to water the veg bed at Simply Pidge HQ (a grand title for the little vegetable growing area at the back of the studio). If dyeing is taking place within a week for a second or third time, the water is kept as long as the process continues. The aim is to create a closed loop within the studio and garden.
Once the fleece is dry, it is spun by Michelle on her Majacraft Aura into art yarns, or on her Ashford electric wheel for a simple 2 ply. These yarns are then finished (wet set) ready to be used in her weaving.
Finally, the loom is dressed (warped) ready to start weaving. Michelle chooses yarns from her stash of handspun, and then creates a warp that sings to her.
Sometimes a commercial soft, sustainable yarn is used to warp the looms.
Once the woven piece is completed, it is again wet finished to set all the threads in place. Usually the wet finishing is done in one batch of newly spun yarn and woven pieces to attain maximum usage of the water before the water is used on the garden, thus ensuring no waste and a closed loop system for materials used.