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Royal Bison Process

How Neatnik Yarns are dyed 

Neatnik Yarns are dyed in a cat-loving, tobacco-free home, in a basement studio in Edmonton. Although I spin some of my yarns, the majority are spun by my two suppliers - mills in Ontario and the UK. The yarn arrives at my door in the form of undyed hanks. By that point it has been shorn from the sheep, scoured, superwashed/eco-processed (or not), carded or combed (resulting in fibre or roving), and finally, spun.

I use acid dyes (citric acid is the mordant) for my protein/animal fibres, and fibre reactive dyes (soda ash is the mordant, it is a different process entirely, I need not bore you with the details) for cellulose fibres like cotton. Before the dyeing begins the yarn is soaked in water and a mild nonscented soap to maximize dye absorption. The dyeing process takes about 2 hours - one hour in the pan (two applications of dye), and one hour to cool, soak (I use Eucalan wool soak), and dry.

Weaving on a rigid heddle loom takes anywhere from 3 - 6+ hours for my type of projects. How long it takes depends on how bulky the yarn is - the finer the yarn (and the bigger the project), the more time is required.

Once the item is completed, finishing includes hemstitching or sewing the ends, wet blocking (with Eucalan soak) to allow the yarn to full, and applying a fancy shmancy tag. This takes another hour at least.

Pricing

I calculate my prices based on materials cost, overhead and labour - yes labour! My time is valuable, damnit! The reason that you see such a difference in price amongst dyers and crocheters/knitters/weavers/felters is that there is no standard calculation of price. Many makers don't include their labour in the calculation, because, well, women's work is typically undervalued. We've been expected to do things for free. Crafting is fun, right? Yes it is, but it is a skill. Worth compensation. Whew, don't get me started. That is a whole other topic, for another degree perhaps.

Slow Fashion Manifesto

One more thing. I mention price because you are likely used to fast fashion and a much lower price point, so that my prices might be a bit of a shock. However, the (shockingly) lower prices we have become accustomed to reflect an unsustainable system - mass production using cheap materials in countries that do not pay a living wage or provide labour security.

My pieces are not fast fashion. My handwoven scarves & wraps are an investment - a one-of-a-kind handmade piece, not destined to be discarded after a season. It is meant to be worn, loved, cared for, maybe shared, eventually passed down/on with many happy memories attached. This is what supporting local looks like. It requires a bit of a mental tweak, but heed this: less is more.