The Year-Long Coat
Wearing our first ever yarn
By: Amanda Kievet
I made this coat it out of yarn Peggy and I made — our very first — which we spun it at Hampton Fiber Mill in December 2020 during our training session on our spinner.
Michael Hampton had prepared the roving: eight pounds of lackluster (but more importantly non-fussy) commercial combed top. We already had an agreement signed to purchase all the equipment in Michael's beloved mill but this was the first time we got our hands dirty doing what would become our new full time jobs. It was a loud, exhausting, and nerve-racking day with lots of fast-moving pieces and math we were not sure we would ever master. But by the end of the day, we had spun 32, 4oz skeins of three-ply worsted weight yarn, and we were very chuffed. It wasn’t the nicest softest yarn, but it was a treasure to me, a milestone in this adventure that Peggy and I were embarking on.
I took my share of the yarn home with thoughts swirling in my head about what to make with it. I wanted the project to be something to commemorate the experience of starting the mill.
Since the yarn was naturally a none-too-handsome yellowish white, I first had to dye it. Earlier in 2020 I took up natural dyeing, experiencing the magic that comes with bringing out color from the things that grow around me. I decided to dye the yarn a brilliant gold with marigold petals. Being that it was winter with no local marigolds to be found, I bought some dried petals from Maiwa, and online dye supply store. I prepared the skeins by mordanting them with alum first and was pleased with the sunny bright gold I got.
I wanted to use up a lot of the yarn in a single project so I chose a big one: the Belfast designed by Véronik Avery from Brooklyn Tweed. It was a pretty straightforward pattern that was easy to follow. I learned how to do a tubular cast on and off which made very cozy stretchy hems. Otherwise, there wasn’t anything particularly challenging other than the sheer amount of knitting required. The project was on my needles from December 2020 until December 2021 when I finally cast off. Then, as these things go, I took my time to do the final finishing: the weaving in of ends and one final wet block. (Usually I do my soaking in the bathroom sink. This project required the bathtub and four soaked towels to dry.)
Now a full year later I have my giant bright gold coat to bring some sunshine to my wardrobe. I have indeed mastered the spinner and the math, along with the rest of our equpment. And along with Peggy, we have built a business doing what we love: turning raw fleece into beautiful yarn. Putting this coat on reminds me that big challenges are met one day — or stitch — at a time.