Fibres, dyes and handcrafting is what makes us special…. as is a little transparency. For those of you who are really interested in how your clothes are made, this page is for you.
Literally everything we make starts with a piece of string. Hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of string. What all of these “pieces of string” have in common is that they are carefully chosen from either a geographical or natural or environmental perspective. Here is our fibre line up:
Wool – One of our main fibres we work with. We use Canadian produced wool, that is minimally processed, and milled in small independent Canadian mills. Real wool that feels like real wool. (And yes, on occasion a piece of knitwear might include the tiniest piece of straw, harkening back to the wool’s place of origin.). Biodegradable. A Canadian produced fibre minimizing shipping distances and shrinking the distance of the supply chain.
Organic Cotton & Regular Cotton – Our choice for year round knitwear. Great for warmer weather, and indoor and outdoor wear. We only dye our cottons in botanical dyes, in order to offer a vegan friendly product. We offer both forms of cotton, allowing our customers to choose what they prefer. All Permanent Collection pieces are available in either form of cotton, one of the great things about our “made upon ordering” business model.
Alpaca – So soft. Alberta grown. Alberta milled. Imagine knitwear produced in a distance of 100 miles from animal to completed piece. Our choice fibre to provide a piece of clothing with a minimal carbon footprint. This is where we are REALLY doing things differently. Clothing that can make a statement. Clothing that can make a difference.
Bamboo – Sustainable. Soft. Vegan friendly. On occasion bamboo is the fibre of choice in our One-Of-A-Kind pieces. If you see one of our bamboo pieces listed, snap it up, as we only make them rarely.
Tencel – We love Tencel for our detailed stranded One-Of-A-Kind pieces. A modern wood pulp derived fibre known for its sustainable qualities. I think I will let the experts explain Tencel by including this LINK .
Years ago we committed to natural dyes and slow dyeing. It only made sense if you were consciously focusing on natural fibres, and the way pieces were made, that ethical dyeing should also be part of the narrative.
Now a little about natural dyeing. Prior to 1856, and the discovery of synthetic dyes, all fibres were naturally dyed. Just imagine, all that amazing historical clothing, fabulous carpets, and intricate tapestries achieved their color through natural dyeing. Dyeing is a historical art form. Looking back on these pieces, we can learn the dyes that stand the test of time for both lightfastness and washfastness. These are the dyes we use. The rugged natural dyes. The dyes that last. Beyond looking to history for our dye information, we also tend to test our dyeing before we use them in pieces being sent out into the world. We have put them through washing machines with detergents multiple times (and the dryer….do NOT attempt this with your knitwear…it is a test!). We wear the pieces skiing, and snowshoeing, thrown in the backs of vehicles, and on the beach. But even more extreme, my five children wear naturally dyed pieces on a daily basis…..they have been “little boy tested”…one of the toughest tests out there.
Our main natural dye line up is as follows:
Indigo – The color everyone loves. Blue. Light blue, dark blue, baby blue. Plus it is used in multiple over dye combinations to create greens and other colors. Natural indigo comes from the Indigofera tinctoria plant. It is the color used in old school denim. Indigo dyeing is a lengthy process using multiple dips and waiting periods. In hand dyeing with indigo, we are able to take the vats to exhaust, then refresh them, rather than pouring half used batches of dye into the water system. One of the benefits of ethical hand dyeing.
Goldenrod – One of my favorites. Beautiful yellows. We collect our goldenrod locally, as it grows by the side of creeks and rivers. There is about a three week span each year to access this dye. We pick. We craft the dye. We dye as much wool as we can for the rest of the year. Our goldenrod dyed wool availability is literally based on the growing season and how much blooms. My closest source for goldenrod (and tansy), is about 200m from my door…..talk about shrinking the carbon footprint for accessing raw materials!
Tansy – Most people view tansy as a problematic invasive plant, I view it as an amazing dye plant. Creating great yellows, tansy is another locally accessible plant. Tansy loves creeksides, ditches and the edges of rivers. It blooms in August, we pick it in August, and we dye with it in August. A lovely Canadian dye plant.
Marigold – used historically, used worldwide, but the marigold I use for dyeing comes from my garden. As flowers bloom, they are picked and dried for future use. Beautiful yellows created from lovely flowers.
Madder – is a dye stuff that comes from the root of the madder plant. Reds, oranges , pinks and corals are all possible with madder. We especially love using madder to achieve pinks on our cotton knits.
Logwood – comes from the heartwood of the logwood tree, and was a popular dye in the 16th century as it produced beautiful purples. Logwood dye is crafted directly from wood chips. We often use logwood on our cotton pieces as it produces such a lovely lavender color.
Pomegranate – is derived from the rinds of the pomegranate. We utilize this dye often for ochre yellows, and sometimes greys on cotton and Tencel. Sometimes, if we are feeling brave, we use it in conjunction with turmeric , a historic combination for a bold yellow-gold.
Lac – is a strange dye, but gives amazing reds on wool. It is a red dye extract related to the insect Laccifer lacca. The female lac insect invade fig and acacia trees, and secrete a resin that contains a red dye. To harvest, the resin is taken off the branches. To create a usable dye, the dye must be extracted from the resin first. Due to the origin and extraction process, lac is quite a pricey dye to use.
Cutch – is a dye I return to often. It creates wonderful browns on cotton, wool and Tencel. This dye is derived from the wood of the Acacia catechu tree.
Osage – comes from the Maclura pomifera tree that grows in the United States. The trees were originally planted to help with wind erosion, but have overgrown in many areas. Osage dye is crafted directly from wood chips. We use osage in the dyeing of yellows and greens.
Brazilwood -Also known as Sappanwood is an old-world dye from the heartwood of the Sappanwood Cæsalpinia sappan tree. We use this dye only occasionally, usually on wool, for purples and reds.
Chamomile – Is part of the daisy family. This botanical dye provides us with beautiful yellows.
Arbutus – is a dye I only use rarely, but love greatly, as availability for bark is very small. This dye comes from the bark of the arbutus tree that grows on the west coast of Canada. We are lucky that our little Gulf Island is home to this tree. A dye is created by collecting the bark, that peels off each year, and then steeping it like tea. Each year the dye is slightly different, yielding tones from soft browns to coppers.
Method is about how things are made.
Most importantly, we don’t use factories, and we don’t use outsourcing to create our pieces. We are cottage industry. Designer, dyer, knitter, weaver…. we wear many hats… and that is how we are able to create ethical. transparent, low waste, sustainable clothing. The only way we could truly “walk the talk” was to control the whole process ourselves.
Method is about how we take that “piece of string” and turn it into a wearable item. Currently we use three different methods, and all our methods are hand powered (yes, you read that correctly…. and yes, it means I also don’t need to pay for a gym membership to keep my arms in shape!)
This is how we create our pieces:
Flatbed Knitting – Vintage flatbed knitting is our most used method for the creation of our pieces. It is hand powered, physical work. Flatbed knitting allows us to use finer yarns than hand knitting would feasibly allow for production work. This method also allows for creative elements such as patterning, textures, plus knitting beads into pieces, making it the perfect method for designing and creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
Hand Knitting – Hand knitting is how everything started. Truth be known, I started hand knitting when I was 6. I grew up around knitters, it was what everyone did. As life goes, several years ago an opportunity arose to turn knitting into a business. A business focused on Canadian knit gifts and wearables. The business expanded it’s scope, and eventually became W1 Hundred. Hand knitting is done on old school wooden knitting needles. It is slow meticulous work, and lovely in it’s own way, taking hours upon hours (or days, or months…) to create a piece. Hand knit pieces will appear from time to time in the shop as one-of-a-kind pieces.
Weaving – On occasion a hand woven piece will be listed in our shop as a one-of-a-kind piece. I have looms in operation in both my workshops, but do not production weave, but rather weave for love. My weaving is completed on large floor looms, and is completely a manual process. Weaving consists of warp (lengthwise) and weft (widthwise) threads. Prepping the loom with the warp threads can take up to two days, while weaving an intricate pattern can take up to an hour to complete 14 inches of weaving. I weave both cotton and wool, and primarily focus on weaving classics such as wraps and scarfs. Handwoven items are true investment pieces.
Have you ever thought about how domestically produced, un-industrial clothing is priced? It is a very different scenario from clothing produced in factories halfway across the globe, pumping out hundreds of thousands of units each day.
Our pieces are priced out based on three categories: dye cost, weight of fibre and time.
Dyeing: For each item created, the amount of dye, and amount of time it takes to prepare and dye a piece, is taken into account. Dyeing and prep can take a day or two, sometimes longer with indigo. Items with multiple colors, stripes or patterns, are even more expensive when it comes to dyeing as the yarns are prepared a different way. You will notice in the shop, generally more expensive pieces have had more time spent in the dyeing process.
Weight of Fibre: Every piece is weighed. The weight of the piece tells us exactly how much fibre is used to create the item. Pricing per item factors in the exact materials used. You will notice that scarves cost more than a hat of a similar style, that is because a scarf weighs 2-3 times that of a hat. We don’t use arbitrary numbers when we price our products, pricing always comes down to exactly what it took to create the piece.
Time: Let’s be honest, the biggest factor in the price of our products is time. Handcrafted pieces take a lot of time, and a lot of physical labor. Working with naturally dyed fibres and low-processed wool takes a lot of time. Handcrafting the dyes and dyeing the yarn takes a lot of time. Designing the pieces and prototyping takes an excessive amount of time (did you know it can take up to 20 prototypes to get a piece exactly the way you want it?) Time and craftsmanship is the most significant factor in the pricing of our pieces.
In our highly industrialized world of fast production, people are often amazed at what it really takes to create an ethical, domestically produced product. We believe that offering un-industrialized pieces is forward thinking. We believe in offering products that are “made upon ordering” and low waste is an important environmental move. We believe natural dyeing and dyeing to “exhaust” is smarter for humans and smarter for the earth. We believe in exploring possibilities to acquire Canadian produced fibres, shrinking the distance of the supply chain. We are creating clothing with a passion and a belief system, we are creating clothing in a way that can’t be replicated in the fast fashion industry.
We are creating investment pieces. Pieces where the customer invests in craftsmanship. Pieces where the customer invests in the earth.
We hope you too will invest in our concept. It is the way forward.