This Kickstarter is to pre-sell the book, Homegrown Linen: transforming flaxseed into fibre.
But it's more than that. It's also a proof of concept, to discover if people are interested in growing their own yarn sustainably, at home. It's the first in a series of short books that explore permaculture techniques applied to clothing.
Stretch Goal 1: CA$16,000
About this project
When I wanted to combine my love of yarn with my love of gardening, I looked everywhere for a book that would teach me all the luscious details of growing fibre plants. But there weren't any that focused on growing yarn sustainably and integrating it into a holistic, dare I say permaculture, system. All I could find were snippets here and there, most of them contradicting each other.
I finally concluded that the best way to learn was by growing the plants. I started with flax in the hope of one day holding in my hand my very own linen yarn. But the next obstacle quickly presented itself: in growing flax, I was told with great vehemence, one must only use the correct kind of seed for growing fibre. Regular flax won't do the trick. At the time, there was no fibre flax to be had anywhere. So I waited, I kept looking for that book that would give me the answer. I scoured seed catalogues from all over the world, seeking that golden seed that would solve all my problems. Five years I waited. I got tired of waiting.
During this sojourn, I discovered permaculture. Now here's a neat thing, where I can live my life with nature rather than fighting against it - sustainability in its true meaning. Permaculture takes methods from the past, combines it with current knowledge, and allows us to grow food, clothing, and other elements of our daily life without harming the planet we depend upon. Pretty nifty stuff.
I applied these permaculture tools to flax and began experimenting with landrace plant breeding, different soils, microclimates, and eventually grew my own fibre flax without any fibre flax seed. About this time, seed companies started offering fibre flax again, so I grew that too. I learned through experimenting and observation (another permaculture technique: observe and interact), and I wrote all that I learned in a book.
This Kickstarter is to see if there is enough interest in growing flax to publish this book. The words are written, many rounds of editing complete, illustrations by artist extraordinaire, Tracy Wandling, are over half finished. I even have my very own ISBN number ready and waiting. All that remains are the finishing touches, and to pay for the printing.
If I'm writing a book about an eco-friendly topic, it only makes sense for every aspect of this book to be ecologically and economically sustainable. So I spent months talking to local printers and finally found one that is carbon-neutral. They helped me select the best paper and printing techniques that match my values. An offset printing run requires a minimum of 1,000 copies. That's a lot of books and a substantial financial investment. How many people are interested in growing flax?
Let's find out together.
What's in the book?
Homegrown Linen is approximately 100 pages, softcover, and perfect bound. There are 12 pages of full-colour images and the rest of the text is augmented with illustrations from the talented Tracy Wandling.
Discover: how to grow flax for fibre • how to adapt growing techniques to your conditions using permaculture techniques • how to create a personalized fibre flax variety • how to process fibre from flax straw • the tools • tips and tricks for working with linen • other uses for flax
$6,250- printing cost for 1,000 books
$2,000 - People fees (editors, illustrations, layout, that sort of thing)
$250 - extra reward cost
$500 - comedy, tragedy, or zombie attack buffer
$900 - 10% Kickstarter fees and other payments
The goal is to have the editing finished before this Kickstarter ends; the remaining illustrations and layout finished in October; final proof ready in November; and off to the printer in late November early December, with a pre-release date of January, and everything ready to sell in the shops by my birthday in February.
Handwoven towels: If you select this reward, I will weave you a towel from European linen yarn with hand-dyed indigo stripes (hand dyed by me in my garden). They aren't woven yet, but they will look something like this with asymmetrical stripes. Approximately 20" x 30" (50x75cm) when finished.
The Educator's Kit contains flax fibre, yarn, and fibre flax seed, grown and hand processed by me, all within 25 yards of my house. Plus a copy of the book, written by me, and printed nearby. It doesn't get much more local than that.
The Learn to Spin Kit contains a drop spindle; a bundle of processed flax that is ready to spin; instructions on how to spin, with or without a spinning wheel; and a copy of Homegrown Linen.
Botanical drawing of flax showing its different parts: leaves, blossoms, stems, and roots. This will be a printable pdf of an original drawing by Tracy Wandling.
I have a top secret private forum available by invitation only, where I can post sneak peeks into future projects and answer questions about fibre farming. Hosted at permies.com
We have three excerpts from the book available as PDF downloads
- Flaxen Calendar - a pictorial guide to growing flax
- Hand carding fast and easy
- How to dress a distaff with linen
As part of the rewards, we are offering the book, Homegrown Linen: transforming flaxseed into fibre, at a special Kickstarter price. After the Kickstarter, the book will retail for CA$24.
Novelty thanks featuring your most creative name:
A public thank you with the name of your choice posted at permies.com, where we favour perennial discussion.
About the Author
Raven Ranson lives on Crowing Hen Farm on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where she grows food, animals, and fibre for spinning, all in a natural, sustainable way. She has written about farming and textiles for magazines, and is the author of three blogs - Crowing Hen Blog, Trampled by Geese, and Whole Wheat Pastafarian.
She spends her time working on her farm, growing food, spinning and weaving, and writing about her love of fibre.
About the Illustrator
Tracy Wandling is a freelance graphic designer and watercolor artist, living on the west coast of British Columbia. Visit www.tracywandling.com to view her paintings and graphic design portfolio.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks with any endeavour. To minimise risk, I've done as much as I can before coming to the Kickstarter community for help. The book is written, we are nearing the end of our editing phase, and many of the illustrations are complete.
The most significant obstacle left to overcome is the printing. I chose eco-friendly paper and printing methods, but the price for these are not as stable as standard stock. With the economic and political climate these days, not getting the book to the printer soon enough could mean a substantial increase in costs.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)