contact us

Call: 360-647-3395

E-mail: Use the form on the right.

 

 

 

 

720 Sunset Pond Lane, #2
Bellingham, WA 98226
USA

360-647-3395

True North Textiles is a boutique weaving studio producing original rugs that experiment with contemporary color and texture while remaining reverent to time-honored traditions. We specialize in working closely with designers and homeowners to develop palettes and patterns that integrate effortlessly and beautifully into interior design schemes. Our rugs are made in America

Oaxaca3.jpg

Journal

Design blog focused on textiles, rugs and pattern.

 

Filtering by Tag: makers

Spincycle Colors Our World

Angela Boyle

Special tour of a local yarn manufacturer.

Yarn, yarn everywhere. At Spincycle Yarns.

Yarn, yarn everywhere. At Spincycle Yarns.

Rachel Price is standing next to an unopened, 800-pound bale of wool

Rachel Price is standing next to an unopened, 800-pound bale of wool

On what turned into a loud and inspiring Monday, most of the team at True North took a visit to Spincycle Yarns. A local spinnery in Bellingham, Washington, Spincycyle was founded by Rachel Price and Kate Burge in 2004. Originally, all their yarn was spun by hand!

Rachel, Kate and their staff dye and spin their own original yarn lines. Their super soft wool is a blend of Corriedale, Rambouillet, and Columbia sheep raised in Colorado and Wyoming.

They order processed wool fiber, which means it’s been scoured and carded. One bale of wool is 800 pounds and made of numerous “bumps.” These bumps are what the dyers bring down to the dyeing room. The bumps are undyed, pure white and wonderfully soft. The wool is ready to be dyed in Spincyle’s original colorways.

Two “bumps” of wool before dyeing

Two “bumps” of wool before dyeing

The dying room is in the back of the studio with a large roll up door that allows plenty of ventilation. On the day we visited, Kate was dyeing. To dye the wool, the pile lengths from the bump in large stock pots. The color is poured onto the wet wool. And the more wool is piled on and the process repeated until the pot is full.

To keep things even, Kate and Rachel each have about 20 color ways. Surprisingly, they cannot mix each other’s colors. But it becomes less surprising when you learn more about mixing each particular color and the balance of colors in each combination. It is very artistic and the dyer’s eye is a large part of what makes a color way sing. After dyeing is complete, the wool is left to drip dry in a gentle process. To complete the drying, they have a drying room with a heater and a humidifier.

Back at the front of the studio where we originally entered is the dizzyingly loud spinning room. Spincycle master machine operator Anna was carding, spinning, and plying simultaneously on the day we visited. Before sending the wool through the carding machine, the roving must be split in half. The carding machine then straightens out all the fibers so they are aligned and extends one foot of the roving into four feet of “pencil” roving! The pencil roving, which is collected into bins, is thin enough to start the yarn spinning process. The pencil roving is spun into singles and another machine plies these singles into multi ply yarn. Spincycle Yarns makes 2- and 3-ply yarns in sport, DK, aran, worsted, and bulky.

The deep blue yarn is having its twist set and the purple yarn is awaiting its bath.

The deep blue yarn is having its twist set and the purple yarn is awaiting its bath.

Finally, after the yarn has been plied, the twist needs to be set. So they soak the skeins in water, which also allows them to test the color fastness. It also allows the yarn to open up into the best texture. If the color bleeds too much in the soak, they will process it with citric acid and wash it again. It is dried in the drying room with the roving. The yarn is finished and ready to send to shops and homes!

Knitwear Designers across the country create patterns using Spincycle yarn. When these new patterns are released, Rachel and Kate see a large bump in orders of specific color ways. When we visited, a new pattern called Nightshift by Andrea Mowry had just come out on Ravelry and the yarn orders were through the roof! Nightshift is a worsted-weigh take on her previous The Shift Cowl.

Meg Lehinger and Angela Boyle are following Rachel Price into the dyeing room.

Meg Lehinger and Angela Boyle are following Rachel Price into the dyeing room.

In addition to the amazing collection of beautiful yarn at their online shop, keep an eye out for mill ends at a discount. Mill ends are leftover lengths of finished yarn that don’t add up to a full skein. They also occasionally sell kits, including adorable hat kits. Perfect amounts of complementary colorways—enough to make one hat—and a unique pompom!

Bucket of mill ends waiting for someone to knit them up.

Bucket of mill ends waiting for someone to knit them up.

Visiting Spincycle yarns was a great learning experience for the True North Team. It’s exciting to see other artisan fiber businesses taking off right in our town of Bellingham, WA. We were truly inspired not only by all the beautiful colors and textures but also by the amount of care they put into everything they do.

Interview with Production Manager Meg Lehinger

Angela Boyle

Meg threading our 10’ loom, Gladys.

Meg threading our 10’ loom, Gladys.

Formerly a weaver at Lark Textile Design, Meg Lehinger was the first employee of True North Textiles. With four years at True North Textiles under her belt, Meg has recently been promoted to Production Manager. She brings a lot of care, consideration, and kindness to her work, so she is a fantastic point person for Amy Tyson, our CEO and lead designer. In addition to all the weaving, backing, and other production tasks that everyone at True North Textiles does, she is also in charge of imparting the bigger picture from Amy to the team while Amy is out visiting suppliers and showing our rug designs.

What drew you to weaving at True North Textiles?

Interior design and home interiors. I love interior design. I thought True North Textiles would be a great opportunity to be a part of custom designing interiors. Even if it’s just the rug, I like knowing that we’re a part of a bigger picture of interior design.

Do you do any interior designing?

I’ve been passionate about interior designing since I was a little kid. I can’t say I’ve done anything professionally with interior design, except my own home. Like hobby interior design. Just a lot of ideas stored in my brain. I think it’d be fun, professionally.

Meg at the sewing machine.

Meg at the sewing machine.

How often do you change your house?

I did just last weekend. I decided to change around my whole house, switching all the rooms this weekend. I will move the couch to the opposite wall about every other month.

What does a Production Manager do?

They facilitate the system so that everyone knows what needs to get done and ensures that were all on the same page. I’m assisting Amy with making sure that things are being done properly. I double check what Amy has done and relay the message to the rest of the team so that we’re all aware of what’s going on. At least, that’s my goal. I don’t want anyone to feel that were just being told, “Do this. Weave 36 feet, and you’re done.” I think it would be great if we could all understand what the bigger picture is for that 36 feet.

Is it by chance that you are so involved in the yarns—ordering, organizing, checking—or part of the production management?

Right now, we’ve got so many different colors of yarn that it's a little hectic. I think its nice that just one person orders the yarn right now. We don’t want too many people trying to do the same task because then things might overlap or be unnecessary or one thing gets left  undone. But down the road, I think we’re all going to be ordering yarn. And we’re all going to be doing the same tasks. But for now, it seems like we're just trying to put systems in place so that it makes sense for everyone.

Meg weaving on our largest loom, Thor.

Meg weaving on our largest loom, Thor.

What is your favorite part of the rug-making process?

I like the backing and finishing. I like weaving. That’s hard  because I really like the whole thing. There isn’t one part of the process that I don’t like. I even kind of enjoy it when there’s a problem. I don’t want there to be errors or reasons to problem solve, but I really enjoy when there is. It’s a fun challenge to try to resolve. But the backing and the finishing are also fun, just to see it in its final form. The weaving is fun because it's the actual pick by pick, even though its hours. It’s hard for me to enjoy the final piece without having done the middle work. There’s so many different steps. You kind of have to enjoy it all to enjoy the final product.

When you’re weaving, do you like a small rug or a big rug more—like a 4’x6’ or a 11’ x 30’?

I like 4’x6’. It is a lot faster, so it seems like a rug instantly appears at the end of the day. But a 4’x6’ is also a size that really resonates with me. I can picture this in a home. Whereas with an 11’x30’, I like how massive it is. And it's really cool to see essentially carpet instead of a small area rug.

Meg seaming the border on the mitered-corner rug.

Meg seaming the border on the mitered-corner rug.

What has been your favorite rug?

I don’t know that this is my favorite, but it was the biggest challenge for me, and it was a success. It was a mitered-corner rug that was bigger than  our loom can weave. They wanted 15 feet wide by 33 feet long. So they wanted a border around the whole rug. We are making a similar mitered-corner rug soon for the same client. The first one was fun because I learned how to problem solve turning a square edge into a mitered corner, and then seamed these mitered corners together to create a border around this gigantic rug. It was a really big challenge, but it worked out and it was really beautiful. The new one is small, only 6x9, I think. So it’s cool to know that they liked the look of the mitered corner. Even though our loom can weave anything less than 12 feet, they just want that look.

Do you have any personal weaving projects you would like to share?

I wouldn’t say I have a whole lot of projects, more that I have plans. But I do a lot of experimentation and trying to educate myself, like learning to weave fabrics. I’ve spent the last five years teaching myself how to do that. So it's a lot of trying things at home. A lot of things I haven’t turned into anything useable, it’s just stored away as a reference for what I learned. A goal of mine is to learn to weave fabric 45 inches wide so I can cut and sew it into things. I like design, so useful objects are kind of what I’m interested in doing. I have done weaving at home that’s just visual artwork, like tapestry. But for me, I just like functional projects, so I am trying to teach myself how to do that.

Meg’s Leclerc loom. Image from Meg Lehinger

Meg’s Leclerc loom. Image from Meg Lehinger

What kind of loom do you have at home

I have a 45” wide Leclerc counterbalance.

Does it fit?

Part of the inspiration for rearranging my furniture this weekend was to move my loom to the biggest room of the house. I think that tends to hold me back when weaving at home. If I can’t walk in a straight line, inching around this tiny little room, it’s really hard to work. It’s a big loom for my house. But I love it.

What do you do when you aren’t weaving?

I like to be outside. I garden a little bit. Any change I get, because I need a partner, we go on really long hikes. Tomorrow we are going out on a grand expedition. That will be all day long. I mostly just like to be outside and go hiking.

Would you ever take a small loom on a hike?

I’ve really wanted to use a backstrap loom. It's a loom that is set up with the tension around your back. It anchors to one point, like a tree. You have the threads set up around a dowel, and you can roll this up and take it with you anywhere you want, and you just hook it around a tree or a stop sign or something. I’ve never spent  a long enough period of time in one place, unless I’m camping. I would like to make one of those and take that out.

For Meg’s turn at choosing colors for a Melange rug, she made this bronze runner.

For Meg’s turn at choosing colors for a Melange rug, she made this bronze runner.