Tag Archives: handmade

Spinning Out About The Spinning Wheel

We’ve been preparing a series of blog posts looking into the origins & production of our yarns, but first we’re getting back to the basics as we send Vicki off to learn how to spin fibre into yarn by hand.
Vicki at the Spinning Wheel

Vicki at the Spinning Wheel

A spinning wheel has always had something romantic about it for me, maybe from a childhood peppered with fairytales; Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold & Sleeping Beauty lured into pricking her finger on the wheel, so when I saw a Beginners Spinning Class advertised locally I was instantly hooked.

Two hours into the two day class and I’m not so sure. Certainly the setting has a touch of the fairytale about it, as we work in what was once the wedding room of the local Council offices, bathed in the warm glow of a real coal fire.

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Oscha Hand Dyed – With Love and Care

All of our dye work at Oscha is done in-house by Vicki (aka ‘Nana Oscha’!). With Mother’s Day in the UK just around the corner we asked her to talk us through how Oscha Dye Art began and how her career has changed dramatically since her husband & daughter started up the family business.

Vicki or 'Nana Oscha' getting ready to hand dye a batch of linen baby wraps.

Vicki or ‘Nana Oscha’ getting ready to hand dye a batch of linen baby wraps.

Once upon a little while ago I used to run my own consultancy working in large organisations as a team developer and executive coach, now I work with my hands, creating Oscha Art & graduation dyed wraps. When I meet up with ex-clients and colleagues they invariably ask if I miss my old work, the answer is not really, for I love what I do now.

Dyeing wraps is a physical job, mostly undertaken out of doors or in an unheated space, so it’s definitely a big change – before I spent much of my time sitting down, either in stuffy offices, or travelling.  Surprisingly, for me, I enjoy the constant exercise and fresh air, although perhaps less so on frosty days when my fingers get chilled!

I find the dyeing process very meditative. There’s something therapeutic about performing a series of tasks that don’t require speaking, leaving the mind clear. But most satisfying of all is the art of creating, by my own hands, and seeing, when the process is done, a row of wraps hanging on the drying rack, with the finished colours revealed in all their beauty, and knowing that a baby or small child will be lovingly wrapped in them.

Vicki selects the dye colours for Jade Spring and is beginning to mix up the dye powder.

Vicki selects the dye colours for Jade Spring and is beginning to mix up the dye powder.

Every stage of dyeing an Oscha grad and Art dyed wrap is done by hand. From sitting crouched over the dye pots to make the mix, hubble bubble, to heaving the many buckets of water solution into tanks, to rinsing, drying, checking and packing. And each step must be done with care for it can be incredibly frustrating to find spots of dye where they’re not meant to be.

Amongst the first wraps Oscha produced were our Art & graduation dyed linens (we now additionally use 50% linen/50% cotton diamond weave which has a wonderful lustre). We were at the beginning of our journey of discovery then, and learning how much care and love needs to go into everything we do.

Zoe and Mike developed the dyeing process; researching how to dye manually, and sourcing the materials, taking particular care to ensure we had dyes that were safe for babies. As the original makers of 100% linen wraps, finding high quality linens that were finely spun yet strong enough to be suitable for wrapping required much research, thinking outside the box and working closely with testers to continually improve on the range of fabric we work with.

Jade Spring wraps being created in the dye tank.

Jade Spring wraps being created in the dye tank.

Mike, with his engineering background, analysed the dyeing process and built the apparatus I now use. Zoe and Mike worked together on the recipes I follow, a lengthy process of trial and error, learning from mistakes to finally get to our range of beautiful colours, smooth graduations and crafted Art dyes. They were delighted with the extensive feedback they received, especially that these baby wraps were not only beautiful and supportive, but the most breathable around; perfect for keeping cool during hot summer days.

Now Mike & Zoe focus mostly on design work for the jacquard weaves, and I am the resident Dye Artist. I remember what it was like to be a mother of small children myself and all of the work I do acknowledges this most precious time, how the fabric I create will be used to snuggle little ones, and this infuses my craft with love and care.

An Oscha customer wearing Jade Spring with her child.

An Oscha customer wearing Jade Spring with her child.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

To see our full range of Hand Dyed wraps- visit our shop here.