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CA$ 1,920 pledged of CA$ 6,500 goal
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By Lori Campbell
CA$ 1,920 pledged of CA$ 6,500 goal
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About this project

Hello. 
Thank you for taking the time to consider this project ♥

•• A dye artisan will take 8 popular silk colorways and adapt them to a collection of 8 natural wool yarn colorways developed especially for children's items (and for grownups who love colour!), creating a studio space for dyeing and teaching along the way. ••

What's the Story?

Beneath the Rowan Tree is a family business, based in Northern Ontario (Canada). Since 2007, I have been making natural and Waldorf inspired toys in our home.  The core of our business is our line of playsilks (= hand dyed silk squares that children use their brilliant imaginations to turn into anything they can dream up) and silk based toys for kids.

I make natural toys because they are warm and lively in a child's hands, connecting them to the earth.  I make heirloom quality toys because childhood matters.  Children need good tools for their work, which is play. And my hope, and the driving passion behind Beneath the Rowan Tree, is that every child may grow in a world that is wonder full. As J. M. Barrie said: "All the world is faith and trust and pixie dust".

Our toys can be found in schools, preschools, play and art therapy, children's museums and homes around the world. To date over 35 000 pieces of silk have been dyed in our kitchen.  All materials used in our toys are ethically sourced from renewable resources and bio-degradable.

Visit the BTRT blog, Gallery or shop to see more!

Why Kickstarter?

Great question!

With an established business, you may wonder why I am launching a project on Kickstarter.

I am an ordained minister and I have been serving church congregations for nearly 20 years. After the birth of my daughter in 2005, I began making natural clothing and toys for her, and then, for sale~ I sort of tumbled into business like Alice down the rabbit hole.  When I started Beneath the Rowan Tree in 2007, I had no idea that there was an artist lurking within me.  It has been a journey of self-discovery and deep joy.

It also has been crazy hard work trying to balance career, business, art, parenting and life in general.  In doing so for the last 7 years, I have realized that 'balance' is a myth... we can have it, but not all at once. Balance over time.

It is time to simplify our lives, my life, and pursue my passion for creating with colour and fiber where it meets my commitment to bringing out the creativity in children and surrounding them with beautiful, natural materials and products.

I quit my 20 year career (eek!), we bought a teeny 90 year old schoolhouse in the woods, and as of July, I will be a full time artisan.  

Life is too short not to follow your bliss.

In order to make this flying leap into the unknown, we need to expand our offerings at BTRT to include natural fiber yarns.  With yarn, I will have a product more suited to both wholesale, to art & craft shows, and to our local market in Northern Ontario.  This will create a more reliable and sturdy income while sharing the natural fiber love not only in toys, but in making warm, comfortable, sustainable items for kids and babies.

The Project Vision...

To take the eight most popular hand dyed playsilk colorways (evocative combinations of colours) from Beneath the Rowan Tree's collection, as chosen by our Facebook followers, and turning them into a collection of eight hand dyed and/or hand painted colorways on natural wool yarns.

The end result will be 8 beautiful colorways, developed for yarn (to knit, crochet and felt) in sock/fingering, worsted, superwash worsted and bulky weights.

The yarns will be particularly chosen and suited to creating handmade items for children and babies and marketed towards bringing children in touch with natural fibers. (pictured below are projects made with artisan dyed yarns ~ mine and others)

Wool is warm, keeps moisture away from the skin, breathes, and is lovely, durable and a joy to work with and wear. Unlike processed factory yarns (which itch!) or acrylic (which has a low melt point and is, well, plastic), all the yarns in this collection will be organic, soft and natural (the fingering weight yarn will contain nylon for better durability in socks). They will provide a much needed alternative for knitters in our region (I am in discussion with several local yarn stores) and worldwide, as reached through our Etsy shop.

The Project Task...

Creating a collection of 8 colorways on natural wool yarns.

To take the Top 8 silk colorways on a journey to wool yarn is not as simple as mixing up dyes and applying them to the fiber. To create consistent, appealing and professional quality wool yarns will bring particular considerations:

  • establish consistent dye formulas for 8 colorways and coordinating trim which maintain the essence of the original colorway on silk.

  • figure out the nature of various yarns as to how they take dye and the preferable method for dyeing to achieve the desired results

  • create dyeing patterns which will produce yarn that does not pool, repeat to often or too little

  • learn the nature of various yarns chosen for the project~ gauge, washing, drape, felting, comfort etc.

As an experienced knitter, felter and crochet-er I have a deep awareness of the many variables that go into a great yarn.  And as a dyer and artisan, I have the humility to know I have my work cut out for me with this project!

Yarn requires more space than silk:  for laying out, dyeing and drying,  different tools and equipment, as well as much more space for storage.  In order to accomplish this project, and to continue to dye yarn at a volume suitable for retail and wholesale, the kitchen sink just won't do.  Nor will our very small old home, as it is at the moment. 

A functional and professional studio space of sufficient size and properly equipped is required to support this project, the ongoing work of BTRT, and the goal of providing a creative space for teaching and leading others to find their inner artist.

The Project Needs...

Our little schoolhouse has a back porch which is perfect for conversion into a studio~ it has beautiful light, ample space and its own entrance.

We are gathering up and recycling furniture, fixings and building materials as much as possible, and we are able to do the labour (including plumbing and electrical) ourselves but there are some material needs and expenses which fall within the scope of the project of making the journey from silk to wool dyeing and production. 

They include:

  • yarn (enough to create colorways and choose bases, and to fulfill rewards)
  • chemicals (dyes ~ my stash of professional acid dyes is pretty complete but some new ones may be required)
  • heat sources (2 hot plates, 2 induction pots, studio microwave)
  • scale, yardage counter, drying racks, utensils
  • labels and packaging for yarn
  • a sink with its own grey water discharge (plumbed from the house, protecting the septic/ well)
  • chemical storage (cabinet above sink)
  • yarn storage (lidded containers)
  • construction materials: windows, outer door, insulation, flooring, ceiling and walls, paint, lighting (recycling as possible!)

Our funding goal includes Kickstarter fees, reward costs and a portion of the shipping from Canada with the above.  As per Kickstarter's rules ALL funds (the goal) must be raised in order for ANY funds to be disbursed to the artisan.  It may also be helpful to know that being based in Canada means that I pay an average of 25-40% MORE for all of my fiber and chemicals than US based artisans when you factor in the currency, shipping, duty and taxes.

The Project Rewards...

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward!

Your consideration of this project is deeply appreciated.  It is heartening and exciting to know that there are people like you~ with a heart for the arts and a willingness to back artisans in their work.  The rewards for this project have been carefully chosen to represent the art in which this project is rooted~ hand dyeing~ and to honour your generosity by supporting (and hopefully inspiring!) your own creative spirit ♥

All of the rewards are listed on the right of the screen.  All rewards will ship WORLDWIDE.  Here are some images and details about the specific items:

Hand Dyed & Hand Painted Yarns: All of our yarns for this project will be professionally dyed with acid dyes which produce safe, wash and lightfast colours. They will be labelled skeins. Willow, Alder, Fir and Rowan level yarns may be wound into center pull balls by request.

<Wondering what you can make with the Hazel Level & Ash Level rewards which include 2 -3 oz. of worsted yarn? Check out these great suggestions on our blog!>

{All yarn photos are samples of my dye work, and not of the project colorways which are still to be developed}

I anticipate using the following yarns. They *are* subject to change for availability or artistic reasons, but they will be natural wool fibers in the bases described, and the sock yarn will maintain a nylon component for better wear.

Fingering Weight/ Sock : 75% Merino, 25% Nylon (approx. 110 yds 1 oz., approx. 36 sts per 4" on US 1-2 or 2.25-2.75mm)

Worsted Weight : 100% Organic Merino (approx. 70 yds/ 1 oz., approx. 20 sts per 4" on US 6-8 or 4-5mm)

Worsted Weight Superwash: 100% superwash Merino (approx. 55 yds/ 1 oz., approx. 24 sts per 4" on US 7-9 or 4.5-5.5mm)

Bulky Weight: 100% Organic Merino (approx. 40 yds/ 1 oz., approx. 15 sts per 4" on US 10-11 or 6-8mm)

Sweet Somethings (Felted Wool & Silk Treasures) : a spring favourite at BTRT, available ONLY through Kickstarter for the course of this campaignEvery year we create a limited number of these little darlings~ felted wool egg (approx. 3"), hand dyed silk ribbons and 11" green playsilk, with a teeny little friend (bunny or chick) inside. You will choose your design: floral, polka dot or rainbow AND your Itty Bitty Critter (bunny or chick). We will choose the colors, but if you have a strong preference (ie no pink) you can let us know! Your Sweet Something will be shipped in time for Easter. (Mulberry Level)

The Wee Dwellings Digital (PDF) Pattern : everything you need to know to knit, felt and embellish a little home for fairies and gnomes. 

 Make a Friend, Bunny Ball Digital (PDF) Pattern : Learn to wet and needlefelt a bunny just in time for Easter! 

Happy Day Bunting Digital (PDF) Pattern: Knit a bunting banner for any and every occasion! Includes letter templates.

Hand Dyed Silk Wrap Bracelet: Hand painted silk bracelet (approx. 40" long) with 'Dream' themed silver tone charms. You choose red or pink rainbow colours.

Kickstarter Exclusive Project Bag: Hand dyed cotton jersey drawstring bag embellished with colour blocks and a rowan leaf design (stamp made from my rowan leaf ankle tattoo!)~ the rowan being a tree of connection and inspiration! Approx. 10 x 12". Each one of a kind and great for toting your latest project wherever you go. 

Silk Chiffon Hand Dyed Scarf (11 x 90"): Nearly 8 feet long, these gorgeous, airy, lightweight silk scarves are wonderful for summer wear.  With a watercolour finish, your scarf will be one of a kind, made in your choice of 2-3 colours. (Spruce Level)

All DIGITAL PDF Rewards will be emailed to you shortly after the successful close of the funded projectSweet Somethings and silk rewards will be made and delivered promptly at the end of the funding period. All YARN Rewards and Project Bags will be delivered as one shipment to you with a 'shipped by' date no later than September 30th. Worldwide shipping has been included in all reward levels, as shipping outside of Canada is rarely more expensive than shipping within Canada!

Many thanks for your consideration of this project! If you like it~ will you share it? ... and be sure to take a peek at our video!  ♥

Love natural yarns? Check out this project from Rebecca Audette!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/862052324/custom-spun-and-dyed-yarns-from-local-farms

Saundra invites you to Play with the Colors of the Great Snowy Mountains:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/614560388/play-with-the-colors-of-the-great-smoky-mountains

Risks and challenges

Having run a successful shop for 7 years (and worked in the church for 20!) I am accustomed to providing excellent customer service, hallmarked by communication and a commitment to quality products and warm, professional experience for my customers.

With working full time at both ministry and business, simultaneously, I have experience with handling a heavy workload, tight timelines and fulfilling my commitments. I am confident that by working full time towards this project I can provide a fulfilling experience for you as a backer.

You can explore the quality and diversity of my work, the record of my customer service and feedback, and the BTRT blog (lots of tutorials and topical articles) through the links provided above and in my Kickstarter Bio (top right corner of this page).

As a backer you will be kept 'in the loop' with project updates, and communication and questions in return are encouraged! Should delays or challenges arise (because, life happens!) you will be updated.

Particular challenges that are possible might include:
* changes in availability of base yarns, but I have backup suppliers and yarns sourced.
* construction delays due to the fact that my partner (the handy one in the family) works away from home. I have a backup person on deck, who could be paid to complete construction on schedule and/or assist with challenges that may crop up.
* as this project is completely handmade, the production and rewards are literally in my hands ~in the event of family illness or crisis, backers will be notified of delay ASAP

I am a self-taught dye artisan, working in cotton, bamboo, silk and wool. With over 7500 sales on Etsy alone, Beneath the Rowan Tree is the #5 toy shop on Etsy worldwide (#1 in Canada) and ranks in Etsy's top 1000 handmade shops (out of 1 million Etsy shops).

I hope that this 'track record' gives you confidence in supporting this project and excitement in being part of its unfolding!♥

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1 or more About $0.90

    Birch Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a personal email Thank You note, and a Random Act of Kindness shared with another to honor your kindness is supporting this new beginning!

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    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $9

    Poplar Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a personal email Thank You note, and two BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny).

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $22

    Willow Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting) and a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag.

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $22

    Willow PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day) **PLUS** 2 oz. Mini Skein of worsted weight wool yarn in the project colorway of *your* choice.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 35 or more About $31

    EARLY BIRD:: You will receive a hand dyed Silk Wrap Bracelet with 'Dream' themed silver tone charms (you choose pink or red rainbows) and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge CA$ 40 or more About $36

    Mulberry Level: You will receive: All project updates, a Sweet Something in your choice of design (polka dot, floral or rainbow) and your choice of critter (bunny or chick) and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $45

    Hazel Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag, and a Mini-Skein of worsted weight wool yarn (2 oz.) in the colorway of your choice from the new collection.

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $45

    Hazel PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag, *PLUS* 2 Mini-Skeins of worsted weight wool yarn (2 oz.each, total 4 oz.) in the two colorways of your choice from the new collection.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 60 or more About $54

    Spruce Level: You will receive all project updates, a gorgeous, airy pure silk chiffon scarf (11 x 90") hand dyed in your choice of 2-3 colours and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge CA$ 75 or more About $67

    Ash PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag **PLUS** 4 oz. of worsted wool yarn (as 2 x 2 oz. Mini Skeins OR one 4 oz. Skein) in the colorway(s) of your choice from the new collection PLUS 1 oz. of matching solid trim.

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $90

    Oak Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag and 4 x 1 oz. MINI SKEINS (4 oz. total) of worsted weight wool yarn in 4 colorways you choose from the project collection.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $90

    Oak PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag ** PLUS** 8 oz. of worsted wool yarn in your choice of superwash or regular, dyed as you choose from the project colorways.

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $180

    Alder Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag, and a Scrappy Set of 10 oz. of wool yarn in your choice of weight, and your choice of 4 project colorways (4 x 2oz.) + 2 oz. coordinating solid trim.

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $180

    Alder PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag, **PLUS** 16 oz. of wool yarn, divided as you choose in up to 2 weights and 4 project colorways or coordinating solids.

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    Pledge CA$ 300 or more About $270

    Fir PLUS Level :: You will receive: all Project Updates, a hand written thank you card, three (3) BTRT original digital patterns (Wee Dwellings + Make a Friend, Bunny + Happy Day Bunting), a Kickstarter-Exclusive Hand Dyed Project Bag, **PLUS** a Stash Builder 24 oz. set of wool yarn in the weight and colorway(s) of your choice (you choose up to 4 different project colorways and weights).

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Funding period

- (30 days)