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PO Box 414
Tracy City, TN 37387
USA

A FIRST HAND INTRODUCTION INTO THE WORLD OF RAISING FIBER ANIMALS, SPINNING, WEAVING, AND NATURAL DYEING.

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Farm Tours: Hands-On Sustainable Textile Education

Kacie Hodges

One of my favorite aspects about living on a farm is the opportunity to share its magic with visitors, especially children. Over the past three years I have had the honor of hosting all sorts of folks, yet school groups remain a constant source of inspiration and motivation for designing new programs and building the infrastructure to support them.

 Normal Park Museum Magnet 3rd grade  11.17

Normal Park Museum Magnet 3rd grade  11.17

My humble farm measures a little over 3 acres; within those boundaries lies an extraordinary amount of hands-on experiences. First and foremost, everyone's favorite (and mine too) is hanging out with the resident critters. Most of the herd is standoffish unless there is food involved. Then we have Mrs. Brown.

  St. Andrew's Sewanee High School 2.18

 St. Andrew's Sewanee High School 2.18

Piece by piece, I am tackling projects around the farm in order to create a layout that is most conducive to welcoming guests by offering a safe learning environment for all ages.

[Happy to report that the patchwork chain link fence in the background of the photo below has finally been removed, hallelujah!]

 Nashville Waldorf | Home school  5.16

Nashville Waldorf | Home school  5.16

One of the best parts of the farm isn't visible from the road or the back yard. Tucked away on the back corner of the farm, a grove of Hemlocks + Pine Trees is surrounded by two creeks that wind along the edge of the property, and eventually meet to form a tiny peninsula.

A footpath has been carved along this hidden gem of woodland; all farm tour attendees are invited to enjoy a stroll.

 Into the woods, 11.17

Into the woods, 11.17

Along the path guests will find a stack of White Oak Logs that have been inoculated with Shiitake spores. Depending on the weather there could be a flush of edible mushrooms.

 Inspecting the Shiitake Logs 11.17

Inspecting the Shiitake Logs 11.17

 Shiitake Specimen 11.17

Shiitake Specimen 11.17

This small patch of wooded area offers a multitude of learning opportunities which we have just begun to explore, although Woodland Weaving has quickly become a favorite theme.

Last Autumn a group of roughly 100 3rd graders had the opportunity to take a walk in the woods and contribute to a community weaving project using scrap fabric + natural elements. This unique collaborative project has inspired the practice of woodland weaving to be included in more workshops and gatherings here at the farm.

Every spring the resident alpacas receive their annual haircuts, yielding several different qualities of fiber with a variety of end uses. In order to make the most of each year's harvest, I tend to stick to a system that utilizes all the fiber from my humble herd of 8 with minimal waste.

The first cuts / prime fiber is carded + spun into yarn, that will be woven into scarves and knit / crocheted into hats. The seconds are combined with other fiber (usually some type of wool) and are spun / dyed to be used as accents in scarves, hats, and woven tapestries.

The thirds are reserved for felting projects + farm tours.

 [image via neafp.com]

[image via neafp.com]

The idea of utilizing the thirds was gleaned from a conversation I had while visiting with my alpaca gurus, Bill + Sherry Watkins. Sherry told me to sandwich the fiber in between two layers of tarps. After spraying the fiber with soapy water I was to let the kids burn off some energy by jumping on the tarp, thus turning the fiber below their feet into felt.

Genius.

So that's exactly what we did.

After several rounds of these felting episodes, we have managed to put together a series of art pieces created from the collaborative effort of a bunch of stomping people + a few repurposed resources.

These felted panels were created using a combination of alpaca 3rds + various colors of naturally-dyed wool from my neighbor's sheep. Once the student masterpieces had dried, I needle felted them together onto cotton twill fabric, then stapled the fabric around a couple pieces of recycled plywood. These types of collaborative projects are always evolving as various materials become available. I just so happened to score the plywood from my neighbor who was tearing down an old tree house and had saved the flooring.

I am grateful for this extremely fruitful plot of land, which has allowed me to host groups of all types. If you are interested in visiting the farm, please feel free to get in touch and let's plan an experience catered to your group's interests.

 SAS creekside hike 2.18

SAS creekside hike 2.18

 [image via Chandler Sowden: Learning Lab, Tracy City Elementary 5.16]

[image via Chandler Sowden: Learning Lab, Tracy City Elementary 5.16]

 Snack Time  11.17

Snack Time  11.17

 Alpaca Picnic! 11.17

Alpaca Picnic! 11.17

[ Please contact: kacie@fiberfarm.net / 423.280.4004 to schedule a tour. ]

Tutorial: How to Warp a Metal Frame Loom

Kacie Hodges

A brief history.

These looms were created as a way to teach the basics of weaving to my first ever Farm Tour attendees, a home school group of 20+, ranging in age from 2 to 12. At that time I had access to a metal fabrication shop and a pile of scrap materials, so I managed to piece together a handful of metal rectangles that would serve as frame looms, each measuring roughly 6" x 9".

 2013 - first farm tour + home school experience, weaving with  Radiant Shade

2013 - first farm tour + home school experience, weaving with Radiant Shade

The kids took surprisingly well to both warping the loom and simple weaving techniques, using ripped up bed sheet fabric in various colors. The looms were sturdy enough to withstand being dropped and stepped on (both of which happened) but light enough to allow an independent young artist to work on their project without constant assistance from an adult.

These looms were originally created to teach the next generation about basic fundamentals of weaving, but as time passed and the popularity of this ancient art spread, I have modified them and created a series of 100% naturally dyed and locally sourced Weaving Kits to serve as an approachable way to learn a craft that holds endless creative potential.

 Jonas Art Foundation | Creative Arts Guild Weaving at Southeast High School, Dalton GA

Jonas Art Foundation | Creative Arts Guild Weaving at Southeast High School, Dalton GA

If you have arrived at this post because you purchased a kit and would like to know how to warp your recently purchased metal frame loom, thank you so much for supporting my shop! If you already have a frame loom, welcome! Some of these techniques may not work exactly the same with your setup, but are most likely pretty adaptable if you want to follow along. If you are extra thrifty and have a picture frame (without the back) or anything rectangular (scrap wood nailed together), you may also find this tutorial helpful in warping your homemade loom.

 Welded Metal Frame Looms in Slate, White, Moss

Welded Metal Frame Looms in Slate, White, Moss

Supplies. You'll need a frame (loom), some pretty sturdy yarn, and a dowel or something similar. In the Weaving Kit you may find a spool with wool thread on it. Unwind yarn from that fancy little spool and you're ready to go. In order to secure the dowel to the frame, you'll need two 8" pieces of yarn.

 Step 1 - Attaching the Dowel

Step 1 - Attaching the Dowel

1. Lay the Metal Frame Loom on a flat surface, positioned so that the vertical posts are on top. Position the dowel at the top of the frame (along vertical posts) and secure either ends with string. Wrap the dowel + horizontal post several times and triple knot for good measure. You will want the dowel to be pretty securely tied at either end, as it is going to serve as a foundation for warping in the next step.

 Step 2 - Preparing an Impromptu Warping Ball + Triple Knot Location

Step 2 - Preparing an Impromptu Warping Ball + Triple Knot Location

2. Once the dowels are tied securely to the top of the loom, measure roughly 3 wing spans of yarn (your arms spread wide open, three times) and wrap loosely around 3 fingers. You've just made a little impromptu warping ball. (see above photo for reference). Tie the end of your warping ball to the lower horizontal bar, about 1" away from the left edge. Triple knot for good measure.

 Step 3 - Warping Around the Dowel ONLY

Step 3 - Warping Around the Dowel ONLY

Listen up folks, this is important.

3. Take your impromptu warping ball and wrap it up and over the dowel but NOT over the top of the metal frame. (see above photo for reference). To repeat, you will go up and over the dowel only, which will force you to squish your impromptu yarn ball in between the wooden dowel and the top of the metal frame.

 Step 4- Warping + Tension

Step 4- Warping + Tension

4. Warping Success - [watch this video tutorial first] Once you have rounded the dowel, go back down and wrap the yarn around the bottom of the metal frame. Repeat this process roughly 6 times, or until you run out of string. You will want to have pretty tight tension once your warping is complete. (The video tutorial link above shows a good technique for doing this.)

 Step 5 - Spacing

Step 5 - Spacing

5- As you are warping your loom, be mindful that you want to have relatively even spacing between the yarn. I suggest allowing 3/4" in between each string when starting out so as not to overwhelm yourself with the first project. You can adjust this as you are going, or you can wait until the end once you have tied off the warp string.

 Step 6- Tie Off

Step 6- Tie Off

6- Once you have made roughly 6 passes from top to bottom, tie off the yarn at the bottom, triple knot for good measure (see above photo) If you don't have enough yarn to make it to the bottom of your loom, unwrap it once and don't worry about the excess yarn (You can use it in the next step). The reason you want to tie off on the bottom is for aesthetics, but it also gives you an even number of strings to work with which makes it easier if you decide to get into pattern work or making shapes in the future.

 Step 7 - The "P"

Step 7 - The "P"

7. This is the hardest thing to explain in my opinion, but once you get it, you're golden. Doing this step helps set the foundation for the weaving. It brings the warp strings onto an even plane and sets you up for a nice, even weaving experience. Having said that, this step isn't required, it's just highly suggested.

The image above shows this step a few strings in so that you can see how to make the knot. Start with an 18" piece of yarn and knot it on the furthest left (#1) warp string. Going from the furthest left string (#1) to the string immediately to its right, you will lay the yarn over the #2 string, making a "P", then wrapping it behind #2 and back through the open loop of the P, and pulling relatively tight. The image above shows the same exact process going from the #2 to #3 warp strings. You will repeat this process all the way across the top of the loom until you get to the end, where you will tie a triple knot for good measure.

Follow this low budget video tutorial (above) that will add a bit further explanation. You will want to complete these steps for each warp string all the way across, connecting each warp in a series of loops, as seen in the photo below. (triple knot at the end for good measure)

 Warped + Knotted

Warped + Knotted

Now that the warping is complete and foundation row of knots has been tied, you're ready to start weaving.

8. Weaving Magic. At this point the world is your oyster and you can get as creative as you like.

Here are a few very basic weaving videos to get you started, although you will find a large rabbit hole from simply typing "Introduction to Weaving" on YouTube tutorials, using the #weaveweird hashtag on Instagram.... heck even Pinterest has some pretty amazing ideas out there. No shame.

Intro to Tabby Weaving

Plain Weave Tutorial

Rya Knot / Fringe

Soumak Stitch

 Step 8  [inspiration]  created using limited edition Autumn Reminisce  Weaving Kit

Step 8  [inspiration]  created using limited edition Autumn Reminisce Weaving Kit

 Step 9 - Knots

Step 9 - Knots

9- Once you are finished with your woven masterpiece you will want to secure it at the bottom with some basic knots. (triple knot for good measure) Start on one side of the loom and cut the first two strings (three will come undone because one is a loop) and tie the first two together, repeating this process all the way across (see above photo for reference) Make sure to pull the knots snug against the bottom of your weaving, but be conscious not to tie too tight to keep from distorting the shape of your piece.

 Step 10 - Releasing the Weaving

Step 10 - Releasing the Weaving

10- Once you have cut and tied the warp strings on the bottom of your piece, you can now cut the top two threads holding the dowel in place. Your masterpiece is free from the loom! The above image illustrates the threads to cut in red. When removing your piece from the loom, make sure NOT to cut any of the threads looped around the dowel, as they are holding your woven piece in place.

 Step 11 - Personalize + Hang

Step 11 - Personalize + Hang

Once you have removed your piece from the loom, you can now swap out the dowel for a more personal touch - a branch, knitting needle, animal bone, etc. Tie a string to either side of whatever hanging device you chose (triple knot for good measure) and it's ready to hang.

 Holiday 2015 Weavings, hanging from found animal bones.

Holiday 2015 Weavings, hanging from found animal bones.

Disclaimer.

There are as many ways to successfully warp and weave as there are breeds of sheep roaming the Earth. (check it out, you'll be astounded!) Here is my humble offering of one of those many ways in which I've found it to work. Please feel free to add to this discussion in the comments section below; sources of inspiration and demonstration are encouraged.

As always, feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have: 

kacie@fiberfarm.net | 423.280.4004

Sustainble Textile Workshop Offerings

Kacie Hodges

This corner of the website has sat unattended for 11 months, due mainly to the fact that things have been quite busy around this little slice of rural Tennessee paradise.

 2017 has been filled with opportunities to collaborate on various textile workshops + events offered here at the farm and throughout the Southeast. Perhaps it's time for an update.

1.14: Reunion Yarn- Sweater Unraveling 101 at the Farm

Started off the year by hosting my favorite textile recycling wizards Emily + Michael Felix of Reunion Yarn Co. to teach the basics of how to choose and unravel sweaters into usable yarn. The workshop photos were somehow lost when transferring from the camera to the computer, so here's a link to last summer's Sweater Unraveling 101 session I documented in a previous blog post. Side note: Emily was a rockstar and instructed this class while she was 8 months pregnant.

In addition to raising an adorable little poop machine, Emily has been building an online version of this workshop via an online community,  the Unraveling Club ,  that is available on a subscription basis.

The step by step instructions cover everything from sourcing, de-seaming, unraveling, washing, and finishing, enabling you to turn thrift store sweaters into miles of reusable yarn for super cheap if you're willing to put in a little effort.

1. 21:  Greenroom Weavings - Weaving 101 at the Farm

Elise of Greenroom Weavings came up the following Saturday to lead participants through the basics of weaving while enjoying an open fire in the front room of the farmhouse. I love hosting Elise at the farm because she inspires me to learn new techniques and I am constantly inspired by her unique weaving style.

 

4.22: Hemp Textile Workshop - Fibershed + Mike Lewis

A fabulous weekend spent in Kentucky, immersed in hemp textile education + processing, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Fibershed and Mike Lewis.

Friday night started off with dinner + presentations at Berea College, which happens to have quite a rich history of weaving and textiles.

On Saturday, we migrated to Livingston, where we taught various processing steps required to turn hemp into usable fiber. I had the honor of teaching alongside the talented weaver, Leslie Terzian, who I have been admiring since she worked on the Grow Your Jeans project a couple years ago. We set up looms, brakes, hackles, and spinning wheels in the gymnasium of the local school and allowed attendees to float from station to station at their leisure.

 

5.26-27: Hemp in the Holler - Healing Ground Farm

Trekked back up to beautiful Kentucky to teach spinning / weaving at Mike + Melinda's farm during their annual Hemp in the Holler event. Nestled in the hills beside a field of hemp sprouts, we set up camp for the weekend surrounded by good people and great food.

My only wish was to have spent more time with Elishewa of Artisan Hemp, who was simultaneously teaching her unique process of paper-making utilizing the plant fiber. If you are interested in learning more about Elishewa's work, this video is a great place to start.

 

6.11: Dream Catcher + Prayer Flag Workshops - Bonnaroo

The lovely folks Simone and Robert over at the Southeast Tennessee RC&D have been an incredible source of awesome things the past couple years. They helped me out with a grant to cover the cost of fencing and irrigation at the farm last summer, which was a perfectly timed blessing. This year they decided to graciously pass my name along to the folks who are in charge of organizing Planet Roo and the Sustainable Workshops at Bonnaroo.

Thanks to Simone and Robert, we had the opportunity to teach two workshops at a large music festival that just happens to be less than an hour from the farm. Working alongside my textile soul sister Brenna over at Radiant Shade, we led folks in creating over 100 dream catchers and prayer flags from kits I previously assembled using recycled + naturally dyed fabric from the scrap bin. Afterwards we took advantage of the live music surrounding us for a few hours before moseying back to the farm at the end of the night.

 

7.9: Hemp Textile Workshop - 6 Boots Farm

An afternoon gathering of folks interested in learning a bit more about growing hemp for fiber in Tennessee, graciously hosted by Will + Christie Tarleton of Six Boots Farm .

Will led a well-rounded discussion covering the planting + growing techniques, harvesting, end use, and current legislation. Afterward we set up brakes and hackles for folks to experience hands-on processing of freshly harvested hemp that had been grown right down the road.

I brought spinning + weaving supplies and natural dye samples to provide idea of what this plant could look like in textile form. Paige brought hemp dogs and basically organized the troops to make this event a success, per usual.

8.12 : Weaving 101 Workshop at the Farm

A laid-back day with two amazing ladies teaching the basics of weaving and basically agreeing to form some sort of skill share in the foreseeable future. The best part of workshops is the opportunity to meet incredible people that you wouldn't normally get to meet in the day to day journey.

8.19: Weaving + Waterfall Hike - Foster Falls

A new twist on Weaving 101. I met this fabulous group at the Foster Falls pavilion where we warped our looms and began the trek to the overlook. Using the view of the waterfall as a backdrop, I set out the prepped fiber bundles and let folks choose their naturally dyed colorways. Once we reached the bottom of the canyon, we took a side trail that lead to this giant, moss covered boulder in the middle of Fiery Gizzard Creek. There I led instruction on several basic techniques, letting Mother Nature take the lead for aesthetic inspiration.

At the end of the day a few of us took a dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls, and made the 7 mile caravan back to the farm for a quick tour and introduction to the animals. The weather could not have been more accommodating nor the company of the amazing ladies who participated in this unique experience.

This event marks the beginning of a series of Weaving + Waterfall Hikes - stay tuned as the leaves start to change and more dates/locations are announced.