Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ashford Dealer's Day with Richard Ashford

On Thursday Robin and I were in Vancouver for an Ashford Dealers' meeting with Richard Ashford and Kate from New Zealand.  It was a day to learn of the new products that Ashford has developed over the last couple of years, see their benefits and learn how to take full advantage of them in our craft work. 

Richard Ashford, Chris and Robin Dalziel of Joybilee Farm and Marc of Harmonique
One of the exciting new developments is the Ashford Wild Carder.  It is narrower than their regular drum carder, holds about 1 1/2 oz. of fiber,  and has longer teeth to hold exciting things like feathers, fabric scraps, glitter, besides the usual wool, mohair and um, quiviut.  (Yes, they carded quiviut in this blend).  The fiber comes off already in a roving and ready to spin into a wild yarn.
Kate from Ashford New Zealand with Cara of Birkland Bros Wool and Robin Dalziel of Joybilee Farm

The Wild Carder is the perfect accessory for the new "Freedom Flyer" that is a jumbo flyer with hoops instead of hooks to spin wild novelty yarns.  Its now available for the Joy wheel (that would be my favorite Ashford wheel).  I'll have my own soon.

Kate demonstrating how to thread the double heddle kit for the Ashford Knitter's Loom
The Ashford Knitters Loom now has a double heddle kit that allows for double weave, or just finer yarns threaded at a higher density.  Kate showed us an easy way to thread up the double heddle, to get us weaving faster.  The loom was warped in less than 20 minutes. 

Richard gave us a demonstration of wheel fixing and maintenance so that we can keep our customers tuned up and spinning on their wheels (whether they have Ashford wheels or another variety of spinning wheel). 

I find the Ashfords are generous and positive even about their competition in the fiber arts world.  They are a joy to work with.  Plus they stand behind their products.  While we were in the middle of our dealer's seminar Richard took a few phone calls from people who were having some problems with their older Ashford wheels.  He coached them over the phone to fix the problem.  What an amazing company!  And they make amazing spinning wheels, looms, and craft supplies.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Traditional Soap Makers in Lebannon

Our family subscribes to Saudi Aramco World.  It is a magazine devoted to culture, history, art and science as it pertains to Arab and Muslim cultures around the world.  The articles are informative, well written and the photographs are exceptional.  There are often articles about different fiber arts -- the Doubag project was featured in one issue, for instance.  But the best thing about the magazine is that its free.  You can subscribe by email and then fill out the subscription card in the first issue that you receive. 

We receive the current issue yesterday and there was an article about Natural Soap makers in Syria and Lebanon and their struggles to keep their traditional craft viable in the modern global economy.  Page 16 is where the article starts.

As a traditional soap maker I was very interested in how soap is made and sold in Syria and Lebannon.  The soap is made from 100% olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and laurel oil.  Traditionally it was graded according to how long it was aged (up to 8 years for the highest grade) and by the percentage of laurel oil in the bar.  There are amazing pictures of soap drying in 4 foot high soap towers in the workshop, soap packaged and waiting sales, and even workers skating across finished soap in special boots to cut the soap for drying.

The sad note in the article is that these traditional soap makers are struggling to survive in a global economy where cheaper, detergent soap is flooding the market and natural soap is on display beside clorox bleach, Dawn dish soap, and fleecy fabric softner.  Where natural soap was once used for laundry, cleaning, bathing and shampoo -- harsh chemical cleaners, full of toxic chemicals are being used by modern Arabs, while the traditional soap is marketed to tourists.  How stupid is that? 

Here's a gift from their ancestors -- traditional olive oil and laurel oil soap, rich in antioxidants, moisturizers and natural, healthy cleaning power and they are throwing it all away for glitz, economy, and social pressure.  What they save in money they will pay for in future ill health and environmental damage.  I'm saddened by this.

Joybilee Farm Goat's Milk Soap is made the traditional way with olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, goat's milk and silk (we are a fiber farm afterall!) It too is aged from a month to a year.  It too is filled with antioxidants, moisturizers, natural healthy cleaning power and is chemical free.  We use ours for bathing and shampoo, as well as laundry and household cleaning, too. 

Live chemical free -- use natural soap -- Joybilee Farm soap and shampoo bars or from Lebanon and Syria.  For the sake of your health and for the health of the environment.  And please stop using chemical shampoos and detergents -- they can seriously harm you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Joybilee Farm Indigo/Woad Day - another successful day

The Indigo/Woad Day last Saturday at Joybilee Farm was a success.  33 people came to play in the dye vats.  Some brought their own fabric or wool fiber or tee-shirts from the thrift store to dye in the vats.  These purchased pre-prepared dye vats to use, which were recharged as necessary during the day to give them dark blues.  Others purchased dye blanks -- silk scarves, cotton fat quarters or yardage to dye and used the communal vats, which were also kept charged throughout the day.

Those who were too shy to jump right in and dye some fabric, wished they had.  It was more fun to play in the vats than just watch others playing.  So we now have a private indigo party booked in a week or two.

Joybilee Farm is open to private workshops and Indigo parties but they must be booked in advance.  See our website for details.

Extracting Indigo from Fresh Woad Leaves
All ages were present from 4 to 70.  The magic of indigo dissolves barriers and even those with little or no crafting experience had joy and success when playing with the vats.

Sarah and Laura with their indigo art

Tiffany with her T shirt

Lynnette with her silk charmeuse scarf

Friday, July 23, 2010

Indigo at Joybilee Farm in the news

Tomorrow is the annual Joybilee Farm Indigo/Woad Dye Day.  It's our third year for this special event and we're making some improvements. 

  • We'll have a second resist table set up to accommodate more people and more creativity. 
  • We'll be selling prepared indigo vats for people to bring their own items to dye -- each $20 vat will dye 1 kg. of fabric or yarn to a dark blue, plus another lb. to a paler shade for gradations of blue.  
  • We get a lot of questions about woad, the only natural indigo plant that can be grown in our zone 3, mountain climate.  Sarah will be demonstrating an indigo extraction from Woad leaves and dyeing with the result, beginning at 11am.  Her demonstration will take about 4 hours.
If you are coming out to the farm for the day, be sure to bring a bag lunch.  You can get pretty hungry watching the vats and there's no food service at the farm.

Okanagan Art Works, an e-zine about artists in the Thompson Okanagan region of B.C., published a feature article about Joybilee Farm, woad and our indigo dye day in their July issue. Sarah's woad indigo science experiments are featured in the article. Find it on page 21 to 25 of the online publication.



Sarah with her woad dyed yarn and her 2 silver medals from the Canada Wide Science Fair 2009, for her science project on Sustainably Grown Woad Indigo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joybilee Farm on Facebook

You can now find Joybilee Farm on Facebook.  "Like" Joybilee Farm on Facebook and receive notification of our upcoming on farm events, special Facebook only offers, and invitations.

The next four weeks are special event days every Saturday.  Be sure to plan a visit to the farm into your itinerary this summer and take advantage of the fun, educational and creative days in the works.

This Saturday, July 24 is our annual Indigo/Woad Dye Day.  Dye vats at the ready.  A resist table with clamps, bands, string and buttons to create your own shibori or tie dyed work of art in natural indigo.  This is always a great opportunity to create special gifts, birthday presents, christmas gifts or even wall art -- without having to deal with the messy clean up afterward.  Allow at least 30 minutes per silk scarf or up to 2 hours for a really deep blue.  But you can do 10 scarves in the same time that it takes to dye 2.  So come and experience the magic of the indigo vat -- the transformation of fabric from white, to yellow-green to deep blue right before your eyes.

For more upcoming events, invitations and special offers sign up on our Facebook page.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Linen fields are flowering

The two 20 x 20 plots of linen that we sowed in May are now flowering and about 28 inches (60 cm) high.  One, the Hermes variety, was thoroughly weeded with help from our Irish wwoofer, Fiona, our friend, Karen and the rest of us at Joybilee Farm.  The Ilona variety, sown on the same day as the Hermes, is only 2/3rds weeded, as it grew so fast that it is now past the 12inch (30 cm) height where it would recover easily if stepped on.  We did get the thistle weeds out, but now it will have to grow with lambs quarters amongst it, until harvest.

So far I haven't seen any difference in height or vigour between Hermes and Ilona, even with one being mostly weed free and the other growing amongst the weeds.  Both 20 x 20 plots were seeded with 1 kg. of fiber flax seed, broadcast and then stomped in.  Our linen should be ready for harvest by August 7 to 15th.

I had an email this morning from Mieke in Belgium who reported that she visited a linen flax field in Northern France a few days ago to see the linen harvest.  In Belgium and Northern France they are already harvesting the linen.

Mieke writes, "All the flax they grow in that region is for textile. It are all quiet small fields[sic]. We saw a machine in labor. After the retting on the field, the flax goes to a local factory (Van Robaeys in Hondschoote) where they scutch the flax, than 80% is exported to china, the rest to the eastern european countries [sic]."

The machines they use to harvest the flax take the seed heads off and combine them, while laying down the straw in neat piles to rett in the field.  This field retted flax is then taken to a nearby scutching mill to break the stalks and release the linen fiber.  This is the stage where it is sent away for processing.

Steps that still need to be done on the scutched flax -- hackling/combing, spinning and weaving into cloth.  The hackling/combing can be done with low tech equipment --

a wool flicker brush or a dog brush with teeth similiar to a wool card can be used to comb out the flax.  This is good for a small amount of flax but the teeth of the flicker become loose over time.

Or someone can use a stationary wool comb.  I have a Doukhobor tartar comb that has a double row of tines that works for an initial hackling.  The shorter flax that stays in the teeth of the comb is the tow fibers and the smooth long line flax is spun wet for linen.

One can create a linen hackle by hammering very long, spikey nails (about 4 inch (10cm) ) into a board.  By making a series of nailed boards with the nails progressively closer together, a hackle can be improvised.  Usually 3 hackles were used from coarse to finer.


I found an interesting article on the world history of linen .  It focuses on Irish linen and is quite informative.
Its a large file but very interesting reading if you like history, as I do.

Remember to visit the 3rd Annual Joybilee Farm Linen Festival on August 7th -- all day. Come play in the linen and learn.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Herbal First Aid Balm, in a smaller size

People have been asking for our Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy in a smaller package.  Our glass packaging supplier was able to source a smaller 2.5 oz. jar for us, so today I will be making up a batch of Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy for the smaller packaging.  Price for this smaller size will be $19 (the 4oz. size is $28)

Hemp Rescue Remedy contains skin healing herbs, organically grown at Joybilee Farm, Calendula, St. John's Wort, and Wild Rose, plus anti inflammatory Balm of Gilead, and healing Comfrey.  With the anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti viral herbs Lavender and St. Johns Wort.  And preserved with natural vitamin E.  We use it for minor cuts and bruises, burns, psoriasis, eczema, muscle aches and strains, as well as arthritis and inflamation of joints and tissues.  Its especially helpful for sunburn and insect bites at this time of year.

What is doesn't contain:  There are no petroleum bi-products, no sodium laurel sulfate, artificial preservatives, colours or fillers.  No GM ingredients.

Since each of these herbs is harvested and infused in oil at a specific season, this will be the last batch of Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy that I can craft this season.  The Balm of Gilead is harvested in March.  Wild Rose and Comfrey in June, St. Johns Wort in July and Calendula in September. Each of these has a synergistic effect to increase the healing value within the ointment.

Our customers report that the Hemp Rescue Remedy helps for conditions where alleopathic medicine has failed them.  One diabetic customer had an injury in his knee that wasn't healing after a year and severely limited his ability to exercise.  His doctor had given up hope of it healing.  3 days after using Hemp Rescue Remedy the swelling had decreased 90% and he was able to once again swim and bicycle which decreased his blood sugar, improving his overall health.  My daughter used it to alleviate a severe sunburn, applying it relieved the pain immediately and began the healing of her skin so that she didn't peel. Others have used it for arthritis relief and for eczema.  Its even safe for baby's diaper rash.

Herbs heal by enhancing the natural healing processes of your body.  Its important that the whole herb be used and not an extraction of some supposed "active" ingredient.  Herbs don't just treat symptoms but work to increase the natural healing capacity of your body. 

Some of our customers say we should patent our recipe but we feel that these healing herbs are God's free gift to mankind out of his loving kindness and tender mercy.  So I encourage you to craft your own healing balms from God's Good Gifts.  But if you don't have access to the herbs or can't take the time to do it yourself, try the Joybilee Farm Hemp Rescue Remedy.

Flax and Linen

Its been wet on the prairies this year.  So wet in fact that the planting of flax (and other grains) is substantially lower than previous years.  The harvest will be lower since less acreage is planted to flax. Prices for Canadian Flax will be up due to the expected lower harvest.

With last year's GM flax crisis is Canadian Flax safe?  Definitely!  The contamination was low and protocols for testing Canadian Flax seed were immediately put into place.  Growers had their harvests tested for Triffid.  For seeding this year, all seed must be tested and only seed that is 100% free of GM contamination may be planted.  (GM flax is not certified for planting in Canada) Any seed that was found contaminated was destroyed.  For more information about the GM contamination and what the Flax Council of Canada is doing to ensure the safety of Canadian Flax see this link:

The planning for the 3rd Annual Joybilee Farm Linen Festival -- August 7th is  well underway.  We will again have Randy Cowan from Biolin Research in Saskatchewan and Crop Fibers Canada.  He will be talking about the efforts being made to reclaim the fiber from oil seed flax in Saskatchewan and giving grower information for planting linen flax.  Randy demonstrates flax breaking on an antique Doukhobor flax break that is worth seeing in action.  Talk about fast!


Connie Carlson (Ft. MacLeod, AB) and Jane Marshall (Midway, B.C.) watch Randy Cowan (Sask) break flax on his antique Doukhobor flax break, at Joybilee Farm's 2009 Linen Festival


Last seasons flax is almost all retted and dried and ready for the linen festival, so there will be lots of flax/linen to play with both at the flax break and in the spinning circle.  So come play with us, celebrate the lowly flax seed, and learn about linen and flax history, culture and fun.  Take home some seeds to grow your own linen.  Eat up our flax crackers and flax chapatis -- we might even have some cooking on the grill, for you to sample.  Flax cook books, flax information, linen culture.  It will be a blast... or should I say bast.

We've been waiting for the release of the revised version of Linen from flax seed to woven cloth by Kelowna's own Linda Heinrich.  Unfortunately its release has now been postponed until September (Schiffer publishing) so we won't have any copies available for the Linen Festival.  Maybe next year.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Summer is festival time at Joybilee Farm

Wow, do we have an amazing line up for the summer at Joybilee Farm.  Beginning July 24th with the Indigo/Woad Dye Day which I mentioned in a previous post, we move into the 3rd Annual Linen Festival on August 7th.  This year there will be places to set up your RV -- rustic but available -- if you want to spend the weekend.  If campfires are permitted we'll have a communal camp fire on Friday night, with the festival happening all day Saturday with a spinning circle, demonstrations related to linen and flax, and lots of hands on fiber fun.  Winding down around 5pm.  Then spend the night camping and clear out on Sunday morning.

If you are an artisan and want to set up a market stall for the artisan market during the Saturday Linen Festival, contact me right away, so that I can reserve your space.  

Lots of things have happened in the Canadian flax industry this year and we hope to find out more during the linen festival.  Some provocative research is happening at the University of Saskatchewan, in the Dept. of Agriculture and Bioresource Engineering, where researcher Satya Panagrahi is investigating the feasibility of blending alpaca fibre with linen or hemp fiber to make a stronger, less costly alternative to 100% alpaca.   I wonder if they are addressing the problem of alpaca fiber migrating out of spun yarn, or its lack of resilience and memory. Oil seed flax fiber would seem to be more appropriate than linen flax fiber, because its short and would be easier to blend -- although chopping the linen would also make it easier -- loosing the wonderful strength of long line linen, but perhaps making it easier to process by machine.  These are my conjectures while I wait to hear the outcome of this research.

Then the following Saturday and Sunday join us for the Boundary Artisan Studio Tour/Columbia Basin Culture Tour.  I'm still working on the brochure for the studio tour but it will be at the tourist centre soon.  Once its done I'll post a link so you can download your own copy.

Update:  Here's the link to download a copy of the Boundary Artisan Studio Tour map/brochure.  Grab the map and go -- experience the inspiration and creativity abounding in the boundary.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Picture Perfect Day

On Saturday 8 members of the Langley Camera Club visited Joybilee Farm as part of their annual camping excursion.  They began with a farm tour explaining how we live in harmony with the environment and the things we do on the farm to steward the land.  They learned about raising sheep and goats holistically, as well as natural dyes and linen culture.  And the cameras began to click...


Viewing our farm through the eyes of 8 photographers was an exceptional opportunity.  We noticed that its very difficult to get a picture of the front side of a sheep or goat, especially to catch them looking up at the camera, and not squatting to pee.  The club members were very encouraging and found exciting things to photograph in everything that we do, seeing linen in the flax break -- through the reflection in a pair of sunglasses, letting the goats and sheep out for their daily forage time. 

Pictures are promised and we all had a great day.  I heard a rumour that they were still talking about their visit to Joybilee Farm 2 days later.

And while they were here, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association sent two photographers to take video and pictures of the farm -- the silk coming out of an indigo vat -- magically changing from pale green to dark blue before the lens, the mass exodus from the paddock to go forage, and of course, llama kisses.  It was a very good day.


I'll post pictures later in the week so check back.  Today we are harvesting St. Johns Wort and Yarrow for herbal tinctures.