Soil to Skein : my yarn process

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Hi, I’m Rachel Bingham Kessler, the creator of 44Clovers. I’ve been knitting, spinning, dyeing since 1996. I have a deep passion for sheep and their wool and working with color. I studied painting and have turned my passion for color over to fiber arts.

Foraging for color is often a sacred act that I find great peace in. Working with wool and being around sheep brings out a primitive love in me. Putting it all together grounds me.

Providing beautiful, soft, and durable Maine made yarns for my customers is such a joy of mine. Including providing natural dye education for those who want to expand on their knowledge or who are just beginning. Natural dyeing is truly a beautiful and rewarding experience.

I only use alum as my mordant which is a mineral salt to help set the color. I recycle as much water as I can. I use safe and beneficial foraging practices that allow for pruning when needed and not depletion. For example, when I collect my lichens, I take what I find already detached from their substrate (fallen limbs, etc). I focus on wool breeds that are unique to the area, such as the Maine Island sheep in the Penobscot Bay and local primitive breeds such as Jacob, Shetland, Icelandic, Finn, Scottish Black Face, and other watched breeds that I may discover.

My next two yarn lines, the current one that is about to be released and the 2022 line both come from Maine Island wool which I get from Straw Farm in Newcastle, Maine. I send all the raw wool up to Aroostook Fiberworks in Ashland, Maine to be gently and simply processed into yarn.

Once I receive all my yarn, I move forward with cold mordanting, onto dyeing, drying, rinsing, drying, re-skeining, labeling, and then finally listing here. Roughly 3 people will handle your yarn before it reaches you. The farmer, the mill spinner, and then me, the dyer.

I cannot wait to see what you make with your 44Clovers yarn. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram to tag me or simply send me an email with your makes.

Following this ancient thread of providing a truly beautifully built and well cared for yarn for other fiber creators is my utmost pleasure and privilege.