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Cotton! I spin it, weave it, and dye it with natural dyes. The spinning is very meditative, weaving gets my creative juices flowing, and the dyepot and marbling tray give the same joy as of a new discovery.
I think every child should know by the time they are 9 what it is their hands like to do. My hands like fibery things and plants, and so I spin, weave, dye, and grow my dye garden. I love sharing my knowledge and strive to involve the community in my explorations.
I have been obsessed with cotton since the early 1980s when I learned to spin my home grown colored cotton on a great wheel. I graduated quickly to the charkha. While I do spin and weave with other fibers, the organic cottons are my passion. I am involved in research on organic, naturally pigmented, and recycled cottons and in the development of spinning slivers and yarns from these cottons. I am not committed to 100% cotton products; I also blend these cottons with other natural fibers to provide cotton spinners with a wide selection of cotton-rich fibers to choose from.
As an engineer, my background surfaces in my development of tools and techniques; as a weaver, I realized that the charkha spindle was small enough to fit into a shuttle, and if such a thing existed, I could eliminate several steps in the production of cloth. In 1996 I introduced the Khadi Khanoo spindle shuttle so that I could go directly to the loom with my handspun.
Additionally, because I also work with cotton sliver that is colored, I eliminated even more steps between yarn production and patterned cloth production. I began spinning in a color sequence to obtain weft stripes. From there, I added warp stripes using commercial yarns to come up with a single shuttle plaid. The shuttle and the color sequence in the weft combine to simplify the weaving of plaids or weft stripes.
Along the way, I also realized that there is little to no usage of singles in the handweaving world. I began exploring the use and manipulation of yarn energy; any singles yarn has energy, but the amount of twist is very important. I find the hand of a fabric woven with singles is much softer and responsive to the touch than a cloth made with balanced yarns.
In experiments with energy and weave structure, I developed a method to shape cloth on the loom. I call the technique "Crepe & Shape".
In 2005 I took up natural dyeing seriously, and fell in love with indigo. Every year since then I have grown indigo and other dye plants and experimented with the fresh indigo non-vat techniques, especially with their application to cellulose.
There is a dual fascination with both the color play and the weave structure. To that end, I trademarked and introduced Dye-Lishus® cotton, a cotton that has been treated to accept any dye readily without extra chemicals, using less dye, water, and energy. In addition to spinning fiber, tools, and yarn, I launched a fabric line with four styles with different patterns of treated and untreated yarns.
In 2018 I emabarked on a study to recreate the natural colors used in marbling before the use of synthetics. I learned to make paints and inks for marbling, and developed a technique to marble tannins prior to dyeing.
I teach cotton spinning, weaving, natural dyeing, and marbling with natural colors locally, nationally, and internationally.