Why am I in New Mexico working on a sheep farm?
Telling you the story of this sweater will help answer that question...
In 2017 I took a Border Leicester sheep fleece that I’d bought in Vermont, processed it from start to finish into roving at a wool mil l, spun the roving into yarn and then designed and knit this sweater.
(I actually made a video of this process which you can watch here)
I used to design and knit knitwear collections for a living.
It was part of my two-part business from 2011-2016 (the other part being @agirlnamedleneyphotography)
But I started being bothered by the fact that I had no idea where the yarn I used was coming from, how it was made, or how the sheep were treated.
This led me down the path of learning how to spin yarn in 2015, furthering my education of sustainable fibers which coincidentally went hand-in-hand with my ventures into slow living, which I was also practicing at the time.
Along with that came the conviction of selling goods and feeding into a consumerist society. Creating products that, while well made and more ethical than something you could buy at Target, weren’t necessarily things people always *needed*.
Regardless of my heart behind my knitwear, the nature of selling things, especially when you need to pay the bills, is to convince people that what you have is something they need.
Which doesn’t sit right with me.
Nevertheless I have a passion for the fiber arts and have since I was 8 years old and my Grandmother placed two knitting needles in my hand.
This avenue of creation is a part of me.
I’m on a journey to figure out what kind of part and how I can use it and couple it with my beliefs to better the communities I’m apart of and the world I live in.
Living more simply, sustainably and back-to-the-land are convictions of mine as well.
I’m not sure if I’m meant to have my own homestead or farm, but I’m out here figuring it out.
Why am I in New Mexico working on a sheep farm?
so i meant to post this the same day i announced the new website being up, but wouldn't you know it i blinked and it's already over a week later...
but then i ended up wanting to share my New Perspective post first anyway. which i'd love for you to read, if you haven't already, to grasp a better understanding of where A Girl Named Leney is heading and what my heart for it is.
but yes friends, superb news. the new website is up!
i wrote and deleted twice (or maybe three times) the following words, but i truly don't know how else to say that: i could not be more excited to finally share this new direction with you guys!
today i wanted to go over some notable changes within my business to help you better understand where it is i'm going and what all of these new changes mean!
ventures are what i am calling the different components and pursuits that make up my business.
these will undoubtedly change and evolve as i too change and evolve as an artist.
(you can read about these on the ventures page here, but i wanted to give a little bit more in depth explanation of each one!)
FOLKLING — i have been a life-long thrifter. my mother took me when i was young and i remember the excitement of finding treasures of varying kinds to give a new home to.
she's truly the one who's taught me the value and beauty in giving things new life.
it was also my first introduction to shopping and learning to spend my money wisely.
as i've found and made spaces of my own over the years, one of my favorite things has been curating their vignettes. i love photographing my home and the pieces of it i'm always rearranging. it's something i shied away from for a long time, as my space is something that's very sacred and private to me, but i found so much unexpected joy in sharing it.
in addition to vintage homewares, i have an affinity for vintage clothing.
do i risk sounding like a broken record by saying that they just don't make things like they used to? well, it's true. there was nothing that educated me on this front more than watching this film and reading this book.
again, i grew up thrifting, and so have always had a fairly unique and eclectic wardrobe because of it. however, in my early twenties, i started shying away from secondhand and got caught up in the fast fashion industry and excessively consumed and over-bought, until my closet door and dresser drawers weren't able to close.
it was sometime in 2015 that i finally recognized the problem and started getting back to my roots.
i've been exclusively buying secondhand and handmade clothing for two years now and i feel so proud and accomplished in being able to say that!
and so, because of my passion for adopting and curating unique things to give them new life, i want to help educate and pass that love onto others.
shopping small, locally, secondhand, sustainably and ethically are all elements of consumption that are incredibly important to me.
for it's not necessarily consumption that's bad, it's how we consume and why.
so i want to encourage others to examine the ways in which they're doing that and give them more options and promptings for an alternative lifestyle.
you can follow Folkling on Instagram and Facebook.
SUSTAINABLE KNITWEAR — i've been knitting for about 17 years. i didn't fully understand patterns when i first learned, so i started making up my own and have essentially been designing ever since. i started my etsy shop in 2011 and have had 6 knitwear collections released and sold on that platform, with smaller batches of "unofficial" bodies of work sold on commission and an as-i-made-them basis, before that. if you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane with me those were:
Sartorially Inclined: A Mens Knit Lookbook
Sartorially Inclined: A Ladies Knit Lookbook
On The Road
The Classics Collection
it's amazing for me to see how far i've come in my work and watching my style and aesthetics change over the years.
similar to Folkling, in 2015 i had a "come to God moment" in regards to how i was living, what i was putting value in, knowing the origins of what i bought, having more of an appreciation for the process of products and making things from scratch.
my knitwear didn't escape these revelations.
i realized that i had no idea how the yarn i used for my pieces was made or where it came from. was it made sustainably? were the animals used in making it raised ethically?
when i started looking into it, the things i found along the lines of factory pollution, harmful chemical usage and animal abuse were troubling.
as i changed other aspects of my life in regards to how i ate, dressed and shopped, it was bothering me that this aspect of my business wasn't fully aligning with my values as well.
so after two years of studying and learning the art of processing, spinning, and naturally dyeing wool, i'm going full steam ahead with this new kind of knitwear!
from now on, all of my pieces will be made from yarn that i've either:
1. fully, from start-to-finish, processed and then spun myself from fiber i've sourced from a farm that i've built a relationship with and, when possible, visited myself.
2. spun myself from roving that's been made and processed by a trusted source.
3. bought from another like-minded fiber artist locally or during my travels.
additionally, some pieces will incorporate natural dyeing (something i'm still learning the vast art of!), furthering each pieces story and one-of-a-kind-ness.
i'm really excited to fully pursue this path of creating. it feels really good to have this align fully with who i am as both an individual and an artist.
sustainable knitwear will be available through my Etsy shop as well as the Folkling instagram.
you can watch a video on how i process wool here.
p.s. i don't know how to shear sheep yet, but just know that element of sustainable knitwear is in the works. ;)
THE TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER — i've been "the traveling photographer" for some years now, but i want to refocus that aspect of my business in three ways.
but first and foremost i want to be honest with you all in saying that in over eight years of doing photography as a job, six of those full time, i have experienced some burnout.
the rush, stress, and keeping-up-with-the-joneses mentality that is in a significant part of the digital photography industry, has put me through the wringer on more than one occasion.
i want to be true to my heart and the passions i feel that i was given for a reason, and right now the below is how i feel pressed to chase after them.
1. to focus (no pun intended) on primarily, if not exclusively, doing travel related work, because that is where my heart and inspiration are most in sync.
2. i am not a smile-at-the-camera-and-point-and-shoot kind of photographer.
i need you to know this if you want to hire me to work with you. this isn't to say i will never take photos of people smiling at the camera! but the way i document is a little bit different than most.
you can read more about what that means here.
3. i have fallen in love with film over the past few years and am presently undergoing a more intensive pursuit in educating myself on this medium. i have both film and digital on my portfolio page, and you can see some other film work under the film tag on the journal, but until recently this has all been more or less for personal documentation.
i think at it's essence though, it's the "slow living" aspect of film that i've fallen in love with.
i would really love to start branching out into working with film more in my sessions and collaborations with people. so if that's something that appeals to you as well, say so in your inquiry!
TUMBLEHOME — those of you who have been long time followers are familiar at this point with my self identification as The Daughter of A Sailor.
most often conveyed by way of my hashtag on instagram.
this story became one that a lot of people really loved reading about and were intrigued by. so i decided, along with my father, to share more of our adventures through a separate platform in the way of creating Tumblehome! in addition to sharing our adventures on the water, and our somewhat alternative lifestyle pursuits in the way of living more slowly, intentionally and mindfully, we both really love making things with our hands. after realizing a lot of people loved the things we make, we decided to start offering them to a wider audience.
which also feeds back to my aforementioned desire to surround myself with well-made things and cutting down on the need for over consumption by buying quality vs. quantity.
you can follow Tumblehome on Instagram and Facebook.
all of that being said, i am also pursuing writing more, which isn't officially listed under ventures right now, but that's something i might change.
i've been honored to be a part of several publications in the way of magazines, books and online articles over the past few years and conveying my heart through words has been such an amazing experience and way for me to connect with people. the conversations and various relationships i've had a chance to engage in as a result have been truly life giving at most, and thought provoking at least.
i'm pursuing refining my writing skills and being more consistent with putting out new content that is writing based, whether here on the journal or on instagram (a place i frequently share thoughts and musings).
if you want to learn more about this you can read Writings From A Would Be Beatnik.
in conclusion: all that i am pursuing is fueled by, what i call, the art of slow living.
you can read more about that here, and on posts on the journal under the slow living category.
speaking of slow living, i'm starting a newsletter!
i technically have had the newsletter around for a while, but i think i used it... once? twice?
yea. not very much.
i have some new ideas for it including a bi-weekly email that contains a sort of roundup of various slow living, mindful, and intentional things i've come across around the web and found value in.
what do you think?
it's still an idea in the works, and i haven't sent out the first one yet, but if you think you'd want to at least check it out sign up for it here!
we made it to the end friends! i know that was a lot all at once.
all of that has been inside of me for so so long, upwards of a year now, and being able to convey it to you now, fully as a whole, feels good.
i hope it all made sense!
essentially: before now, i was primarily focusing on my knitwear and photography. now i have two new ventures i'm pursuing as well as a little bit of tweaking to my current ones with a few extra strings (or strands of yarn??) in between that tie everything together.
i appreciate you taking the time to read this.
i've been having some wonderful and thought provoking conversations with you guys lately (over email/instsgram direct messaging especially) and i just want to say how grateful i am for you.
i'm grateful for your insightful comments, your encouragement, your engagement, your positivity, your beautiful minds, all of you.
i wouldn't be anywhere close to getting all of this off of the ground if it weren't for you.
if i had the time and ability, i'd knit you all sweaters from 100% leney-processed-and-dyed wool.
over all, i want to thank you for giving me grace as i pursue these new ventures and navigate their newness and working-out and chase after that every calling dream of living a fulfilling and passionate and purpose filled life using the gifts and abilities i was given.
i want to work with similar minded people who align with the values and lifestyle that i am working on pursuing!
so if you feel like that's you, come say hey (even if it's just because, i love having conversations about all of these things).
I've been wanting to make a video of this process ever since I began learning about it.
(It's probably that whole eyes like a shutter, mind like a lens thing)
This is my first foray into using youtube and iMovie past throwing together video clips and putting a song to it.
Editing the voice memos and music together was definitely a learning curve and I apologize in advance for any difficulty in hearing what I'm saying in the first part of the video! I decided to let that whole "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" thing be my mantra and get this video done vs. not because after staying up until 4am the other night working on it I had reached my limit (and here I am typing this at 4am.... I am definitely going to need some sleep this weekend!)
Over all though I really loved making this video and as I've been wanting to get more into doing videos of travels/vlogging/how-tos, this is probably not the last you'll see of this sort of thing.
So if you feel so inclined---> Subscribe to my youtube channel!
And let me know if there's any sort of videos in particular you'd like to see on there.
P.s. My friend Emily deserves another shout out for helping me with this video (since I don't own a selfie stick and taking videos of myself would have been extremely difficult...)
Go follow her ethereal self on Instagram.
I shared over the weekend that I will be having a trunk show at Quirk Gallery on October 1st.
I wanted to share a little more about what this trunk show represents for me.
I've been working intentionally over the past year or so on my education in regards to my knitwear designing and being more involved in the process and construction of a garment.
I've been going on various visits and tours of farms (which you can read more about in Farm Days posts More coming soon!) and learning about shearing, processing, and spinning wool into the end product (yarn) that I'm used to working with.
It's been such en enlightening and gratifying experience.
To know that I'm able to take a natural and God given resource and within my own abilities and resources, turn it into something that's able to be enjoyed and used by others for (hopefully) generations to come is really satisfying.
The idea for this new venture into this kind of knitwear came from my pursuits and interest in recent years into the art of slow, mindful and intentional living.
What was I consuming? What was I allowing into my life? What was I saying, unknowingly or otherwise, with the things that I used and wore and bought on a daily basis?
I not only wanted to practice more mindfulness in these areas in my every day life, but also find a way to embody that in my art.
I’ve been knitting for about 17 years, and designing collections for a living for four of those years. However it wasn’t until I started pursuing a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle as well as educating myself on fast fashion, that I thought about how my knitwear played into that. I realized I had no idea how the yarn I used for my collections was made, where it came from, what effect it had on the environment or even whose pocket my dollar was going into when I bought it.
That, along with attending a local fiber festival and learning how to spin yarn, set into motion my pursuit of being involved in every phase possible of the construction of a piece of my knitwear.
If I don’t personally source the wool from a farm I’ve visited during my travels or built a relationship with, take it to the mill to be processed, process it in my own home or spin it into yarn myself, I take great lengths to make sure the yarn is sourced and made by a similar minded fiber artist.
While it’s my dream to one day learn how to shear sheep myself and maybe even own a few, I am content with being as much involved in the process of the “sheep to shawl” idea of my knitwear as I can be in this current season of my life as I live in the city.
I’ve also been experimenting and learning about the incredible art of natural dying and will occasionally add that as an element to a special piece. Collecting flowers, lichen, moss, plants, and other found materials to form dyes that only add to the beauty that can be created when using natural resources.
As a result of this process, each piece is one-of-a-kind and a work of art in and of itself.
Each carries with it a story that has many chapters, each of which is very much apart of me and my journey as not only a knitwear designer but a traveler, photographer, and an artist.
I'm excited to share this next phase with you guys. So many of you, my dear family and friends, have been such a huge part of this becoming and evolution in these pursuits and passions of mine.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I couldn't do it without you.
P.s. I've been working on a video to showcase the story of processing a fleece start to finish at the fiber mill so keep an eye out for that coming soon!
Being able to visit Beltayne Farm was a result of a connection I made through someone seeing this Instagram post of mine and kindly recommending me to their friend Sunshine’s shearing day that she and her family were hosting.
After exchanging some Facebook messages, and grabbing my friend Meagan to come along, I headed out on one rainy Spring day to see some sheep.
We had the best time and instantly connected and loved Sunshine and her family who could not have been more generous or welcoming (sending us home with a dozen eggs from their chickens, as well as a promise of some wool upon our next visit).
The Summer has gotten away with me and kept me quite busy but I hope to return to this little homestead sometime soon to revisit the new friends I made there.
The day involved me holding my very first little lamb (named Pip… whose sibling is named Squeak) which obviously could not have made my day any more than it did.
I'm grateful for the generosity and kindness of strangers that’s extended and shared even before common interests and passions are established.
Hope you enjoy a few iPhone snaps from the day!
Excited to announce a trunk show I will be having at Quirk Gallery along with my lovely friend Jess of Willow Knows!
It will be held a week from now on October 1st from 11am-5pm at Quirk Gallery which is located next to Quirk Hotel at 207 W Broad in Richmond.
You can find more details and RSVP at the Facebook event page here.
Hope to see you there friends!
Back in February I responded to a craigslist ad that my Father, The Sailor, had sent my way in regards to some alpaca wool for sale (I'm telling you what, he just gets me).
So after arranging a time, I grabbed my adventure buddy Meagan and we headed to Whispers of Eden farm.
I wasn't sure what to expect but upon arriving and meeting Mehleh, we pretty much never wanted to leave (never ended up translating to over two hours... but you get the idea).
Mehleh was so friendly and wonderful and gave us an extensive tour. Telling us about farm life, what raising her various animals entailed, and entertaining us with endless charming stories about each of her adorably named creatures. She primarily has goats, and were the ones most willing to be photographed, though I did of course manage to purchase some wool from her alpaca's Scamper and Firecracker.
I've yet to process it into yarn (Five months later... eep...), but now that I finally have a spinning wheel the time for that will soon be approaching.
Meagan snapped this photo of me at the end of our visit and It's a pretty good summing up of our little adventure.
Photos shot in 35mm film
It all started when I saw the boat hook that my father, The Sailor, had made for Una.
"Hey this looks like a giant crochet hook..."
Wheels started turning and shortly after he made me a set of beautifully handcrafted crochet hooks for my Birthday. After some more wheels turned, and upon request, he made a much larger one.
So of course, naturally, it's the first product brought to you by Tumblehome.
Each hook is artfully crafted from red oak and poplar, coated with shellac and waxed for an extra smooth finish.
As a final touch, each hook has a sailboat, the Tumblehome logo, burned into the end.
It's light in weight and a great hook for beginner crocheters!
They're each one-of-a-kind and measure 4" around (about 1 ¼" in diameter) and 12" long, which is larger than any hook sold in a craft store (yep, even larger than size Q), so you have so many unique creating possibilities with these beauties that no one else has.
If you'd like to be the owner of one of the few Daughter of A Sailor Crochet Hooks we have, head to the shop!
Happy to have such gorgeous photos that do these beautiful works of art justice.
Thanks to my life photographer Meagan for taking them.
So excited to announce that I will be teaching a knitting class hosted by the lovely collaborative talent that is Richmond's own Campfire & Co. as a part of their Good Vibes Only workshop series!
The workshop will take place at Campfire & Co.'s studio, The Marvin Lang Building, at 1623 W. Broad Street from 6–8 pm on March 22, 2016. Plenty of street parking is available along Broad so don't let that deter you from coming!
The class will include all of the supplies you need to make a pattern I'm working on just for you guys which includes some beautiful ethically sourced yarn (Instagram preview here!), needles, a knitting guide and a super awesome Blaze New Trails tote bag from Campfire & Co.
There of course will also be some snacks and drinks because, let's be real, we're going to make this a party.
I was also interviewed over on the Campfire & Co. blog, so be sure to check that out as well!
Okay, what are you waiting for? Sign up here!
There are a limited amount of tickets remaining so get yours before we sell out!
Hope to see you there.
Excited to announce that I made a few special knits just for Quirk Gallery over at Quirk Hotel!
Definitely a dream to have some pieces of mine grace their beautifully curated collection of goods.
Head over to check out these OOAK knits as well as some other wonderful unique pieces made by other local designers! Quirk is also an awesome spot for an afternoon drink or early morning coffee stop if you're out and about downtown. Once you hang out in the lobby and gallery you'll pretty much never want to leave.