Sustainable Cloth – for the Home

The Sustainable Cloth Challenge not only demonstrated what can be made to wear with local fiber, but also showed how how natural fibers, and used clothing, could be made into home goods. Each of these entries show how thinking and making local can enrich and add beauty to our homes. 

Cotton Pear by Kathy Reed

Stream: Borrowing

I wanted to take a process all the way from seed to finished project.  Knowing there were many steps, and being a novice spinner, a small project fit the bill. I was inspired to grow and spin cotton by Melvenea Hodges of  Traditions in Cloth.  Virginians need permission to grow cotton from Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, to keep from interfering in commercial crops.   I planted white, natural brown and natural green cotton.  6 white and 3 each of the colored.  Luckily, they grew fairly carefree.  We could have used another week of hot weather to fully ripen the bolls. 

I dried the bolls for several months before pulling the puffs of cotton out of the bolls.  An entire paper grocery sack full of cotton bolls yielded 2 oz of ginned cotton.  The ginning process was interesting.  After some experimentation, I ended up using a pasta maker and a sheet of leather to separate the cotton from it’s seeds. Some was hand carded into punis, but I found carding on a drum carder more efficient and the yarn just as nice.  The yarn was spun on several different supported spindles.  I found it too advanced for me to get the cotton threads to hold together while using my spinning wheel.  I did use the wheel to ply two or three singles together and that worked well. The brown cotton I grew was just too short for me to spin.  So I used a tiny bit of natural brown sliver sourced from Traditions in Cloth which is from the U.S. but not local.  At the summer Sustainable Cloth Dye day, Kerstin Zurbrigg helped me dye one of my skeins with indigo. My pattern is a also a borrow from the wizards at Modern Daily Knitting.  It’s based on the Per Orla dishcloth, but on a smaller scale.  The whole finished project weights only 5/8 oz or 17 gms.   Kathy is a retired US Navy Captain, now a fiber farmer, Solitude Wool Partner, sometime knitting teacher, knit designer, local fiber guild  communications chair.  She’s learning to slow down.

Garden Party by Ellen Letourneau

Stream: Re-envisioning

Quilt made from white cotton and linen napkins and old sheets that have been naturally dyed with my kitchen scraps and foraged walnuts, marigolds, goldenrod, a friends’ dahlias and indigo from Mary Kingsley. The only out of fibershed material is the quilting thread – Auriful 100% cotton thread from Italy – which was purchased from Hawthorne Supply. All thread for the machine piecing was from my inherited notions stash of my Mom’s. Ellen is a fiber enthusiast and newbie weaver, quilter, and sewer living in the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County on a farm.










Log Cabin for Friends by Ellen Letourneau

Stream: Reenvisioning

These rugs were made with warp of 100% cotton from Webbs I had on hand and wefts are a combination of other items in my stash – a scarf (bright green) my friend gave me that had begun to unravel (content unknown), roving given me by Bev Thoms (sheep raised in Ag Reserve), a cotton corduroy shirt of my boyfriends headed to the rag bag, multicolored yarn from now closed “Local” yarn store originally intended for knitting, and linen napkins from my Mom.

I was hoping to use stuff from my stash to make 2 rugs for my main floor bathroom.  The colors would all work well, but I had no “design” figured out up front, and, “had what I had” in my stash and little more in those colorways.  Like my other fibershed projects, my approach was often start then design, so these two pieces don’t match, and, are a bit too light weight to serve as hard wearing bathroom rugs.  I may make them into a poncho or coat at a later date, or back them for weight, but that’s still in the “envisioning” stage. The name comes from the Log Cabin warping and the contributions of friends for the weft. 


Eco-print Pillows by Marian Bruno

Stream: Embracing

I was inspired by the gorgeous colors of autumn when making these pillows.  Each started with making simple squares of felt fabric using merino wool roving from Black Sheep Farm for the fronts and and Jacob wool roving from Solitude Wool for the backing. The pillow fronts were eco-printed using a “dirty pot” method learned from Nicola Brown, an Irish artist.  Locally foraged leaves and some plant material left over from floral bouquets give the variety of subtle hues.  To print, the felt was dampened, folded over the plant materials to give a mirrored image, bundled tightly with string, and cooked in a bath of water, vinegar, onion skins and a rusty horseshoe.  Once printed, the pillows were machine stitched together and filled with an insert made from cotton fabric sourced from Cestari Ltd (cotton grown in Virginia and milled in South Carolina) and mohair stuffing from Flying Goat Farm.  Marian is a maker and fiber artist living and creating in Arlington, VA.








Alpaca Rug by Marian Bruno

Stream: Borrowing

At one of our first Sustainable Cloth online gatherings, naturally-colored core spun alpaca yarn from Ann Stevens of Eminence farm in Poolesville, Maryland was offered to anyone who might want to use it.  The thick yarn looked interesting  and I thought I’d see what I could do with it.  The owner of the yarn asked for something practical, preferably a rug, so after some online research, I decided I’d learn to weave and purchased a peg loom.  After watching a few YouTube videos and reading the instructions that came with the loom, I warped the loom with 100% cotton crochet yarn sourced from JoAnn Fabrics (made in Canada) and just started in.   There was enough yarn for two small rugs, with a little left over.   While simple, the alpaca rug is wonderfully soft and cozy underfoot.  Using this simple peg loom for this project gave me an incredible appreciation for the local weavers in our area!


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