Field Woollens is our line of natural dyed products using plants from our wild Ontario fields and gardens.
These rich plant colours compliment the natural colours of our white, brown, grey and black wool fleeces.
Our plant dyes come from plants that are grown specifically for this purpose on small Ontario farms and gardens. When foraging for wild dyestuffs, we search out those that are plentiful and generally considered weeds, for example; Goldenrod and Sumac. Care is taken to ensure responsible harvesting, we are sure to never take more than a patch can handle.
The colours from natural dyestuffs have a life of their own, rich and deep, imbuing our clothing with their energy.
Field Woollens is a collaboration of several skilled individuals, each excelling in what they do. We start with fleece from an Ontario farm, add dye stuff from an Ontario dye garden and from our own farm fields, spin it at our Ontario mill, dye it in house or at an Ontario studio, weave it on our looms, cut and sew into garments, you guessed it, here, in Ontario.
This is the story of the journey from field to fashion. The journey how each garment is made and the people involved in the making.
“I fell in love with this farm before I even knew anything about it. I was shown a very tiny sample of a swatch of handwoven wool. As I took it in my hand I was immediately besotted. There was an energy about it as well as the quality and the feel of a well-made garment that could have been worn by my grandfather and passed down along to me. Sturdy and practical, I immediately wanted to try a shirt made out of it.”
The fleece is Canadian Arcott, raised by Chris on a Huron County farm. They are free range sheep that are rotated on lush managed pastures. They are happy sheep – sheep being sheep- that gives the fleece its energy. The breed was developed in Canada from an selection of other breeds.
The wool from the farm is dyed using flowers to obtain their glowing natural colours.
As well as sourcing wild weeds from farm fields, we are using flowers from The Colour Farm in Callander.
In her garden, Becky Porlier grows flowers for natural dyestuffs. As well, she sells beautiful bouquets of cut flowers and can be found at the North Bay Farmers Market, when flowers are in season.
The Colour Farm is an ecological family farm, growing fresh cut flowers and natural dyes for local markets. Their flowers are an essential part of creating Field Woollens.
The fleece is now being processed in house. It is being washed, carded and spun into yarn.
Our yardage is now woven here at the Mill.
The flowers, once picked, are used in house or taken to Toronto where Liam Blackburn processes them and then dyes the yarn. The Canadian Arcott wool simply radiates the fine colours that have been rendered by the foraged natural dyes.
Liam has documented sources of dyestuffs throughout the city of Toronto and its environs, as well as knowing what is available throughout the year.
The science of developing natural dyes requires skill and dedication. We are thrilled to be able to work with Liam as a member of our localized supply chain.
Those of you who are familiar with my garments, are familiar with the work of Deborah Livingston-Lowe of Upper Canada Weaving. Deborah, a master weaver, knows the type of breed of fleece for different applications and the Ontario farms that produce it. She works with the mill, knowing the size, twist, blend, ply…the quality of yarn needed for finest results. She works with us to establish the width of yardage needed for a particular garment, minimizing waste. She finishes the fabric, making ready for cutting and sees to the detail of fringe as needed. The quality of the Upper Canada Weaving’s hand woven cloth is evident in the finished product.
Deborah is our Loom Manager as we develop our in house yardage.
The fabric has completed it’s journey through six stops and has now arrived here in the mill to be turned into the finished garment.
Hand woven in a broken twill, using warp and weft yarns dyed separately in the Coreopsis and Goldenrod, the fabric has been made into the cropped jacket. The Arcott fleece is giving us a sturdy fabric and the intensity of the natural dyes are producing a vibrancy that seems to glow. We have nicknamed it the Sunshine Fabric due to this warm radiance. This is our first colour accent.
It’s Soil to Soil Journey
Our pure wool is raised on regenerative farms where the soil grows the fields that feed and house the animals. Our colours are from natural, local plant material. The quality of the garment is meant to last years, not just one fashion week. It gets softer and more comfortable with use.
Once you, your child and your grandchild have truly worn it out, it can be returned to the earth to rot away.
There is no plastic. Our buttons are usually pebbles. We use cotton thread.
The garment is designed to showcase the yardage. Cut, sewn and finished in house with local area artisans.