Blackfell Fibre - Handspinning wool!

by Rachel + Sarah in Caldbeck, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 30th March 2020 we successfully raised £4,132 with 42 supporters in 28 days

We are looking for support to invest in new equipment: a large electric carding machine to help us make more handspun wool.

by Rachel + Sarah in Caldbeck, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Firstly we would put £100 toward three yarn-bombs for three groups that Rachel and Sarah attend in Cumbria and Lancashire, £300 total.

And then...

The ethos to Blackfell Fibre is that no fleece is worthless. So far we have paid (or exchanged woolly goods) for all our fleeces, extra money could mean we can offer cash to farmers for their fleeces and means we can buy more at once. With this carding machine we'll be able to process them faster too. 

Although, we have a good space in our workshop it could do with more storage, especially drying racks for the fleece.

If we reach this amazing goal - we shall embroider all our backers names (or the names they wish to go by) on to some felt and frame it for the workshop wall to remind ourselves of the awesome people in the world that believe in us.   


Introduction:

We are Blackfell Fibre, a craft startup in the English Lake District offering beautiful handspun wool and finished products. Recently established by Rachel and Sarah, two friends and spinners, we source locally from neighbouring farmers and follow traditional and modern methods to clean, card and spin our wool.  We pay for all our fleeces and take on cross-breeds and fell sheep, that can need more processing than other fleeces. We are now seeking to raise funds to invest in more equipment, primarily an electric carding machine to help speed up production. By increasing our processing we will be able to produce more products and grow the business.

The rewards we are offering for your support are fun and appealing. Check them out! ==>>

Picture: Digital art work (and logo work) by Chris Richardson (Twitter @RedGindew)  

Blackfell Fibre, Our Products:

Our product range includes:

Raw fleece (several breeds), washed fleece, carded batts, dyed batts, blended batts, handspun wool of different weights and finished products like hats and socks. Also: plant fibre spun yarns; at the moment we buy these in (nettle, mint, bamboo) and recycled yarns made from cotton salvage and sari silks. We also take commissions.

Picture: 4-ply mini skeins, Shetland wool, in lots of colours.

Our outlets are Etsy, Farmers/ Craft markets and occasionally eBay. With more stock processed we would like to supply shops with yarns and finished goods. With more fleece we can also test out more natural dyes that we have been growing/ foraging.

Picture: Our first craft fair.

Blackfell Fibre, The People:

Rachel Blackmore: There is nothing she can't turn her hand to! An extremely accomplished fibre crafter. Rachel has been trading her wares for nearly twenty years full time: online, in shops and at comic-cons. She enjoys long walks with the dog and going to gigs.  

Sarah Burrough: Is the lady with the workshop space and enough farming contacts to keep Blackfell Fibre in fleece forever. A former small business advisor at the University of Cumbria and now full-time fleece processor. When she isn't using wool she's often found planting trees and growing botanicals for dyes.

Picture: Sarah (Left) + Rachel outside Blackpool Pleasure Beach which is the obvious destination to go to the day after deciding to go into business together. 

Mischief and Penny: The most important team members are our cat and dog respectively, generally keeping everyone sane and motivated. They get a lot of coverage on our social media feeds. For information: Blackfell Fibre don't  spin pet fur but we know a specialist that does if you need their number.

Picture: Mischief (left) and Penny.

What we are fundraising for:

The Ekelund Electric Drum Carder - just take a look at it! Carding is a process where you take the washed fibres and comb them into the same direction, this means they are easier to spin.

Picture: Ekelund Electric Drum Carder. This image is direct from their website and used with permission.

This carder has a lot of advantages over the crank-handle machines we currently have: 

  • It's hands free, which saves time as you sort fleece to go into the hopper easier. 
  • It has a large capacity drum, which means we can comb more in one hit. Also having a 1m circumference means we can experiment with longer lengths for things like arm knitting and peg looming.
  • It's electric and in the future the workshop could be outfitted with solar panels, further reducing our carbon footprint.   

Waiting times are very long for this machine but it'll be worth it!

The Money:

The above Drum Carder is retailing at £2,450 + Swedish VAT @ 25% = £3,062.50 (delivery included). This campaign also needs to purchase the items and materials that we are sending out as rewards with postage and sundry. We are making a lot of the reward tiers and the only thing we aren't making are the enamel pin badges, which have been outsourced to Made By Cooper.

We are also entered into the Natwest scheme Back Her Business scheme, in partnership with Crowdfunder.co.uk, which has already boosted up £500 and we have the opportunity to win further cash incentives of up to £10,000!

Rewards:

We are more than grateful for all monies received and hope you will take the opportunity to claim some rewards too. Be quick! We have a lot of limited edition rewards for sale.

International backers: Welcome! We will be sending internationally, for pricing reasons we will be standard class and not signed for. If you could prefer the more secure signed-for option - send in a message and donate an additional £4 so we cover the extra costs. 

Picture: Sample blankets Grannie and Virus.

Picture: Mock up of the badge and a sample hat.

Our Future Goals:

As the business grows we will be wanting to hire locally to help meet with demand. We have the opportunity to run classes from the workshop - at the moment these would be very informal and a little cramped but there is an option of expanding upstairs if we thought we would get the people (considerable work needs to happen before this). 

We set up as a Limited Company and as we progress we would like to be considered for Social Enterprise Status giving a profit share to one or several local projects focused on farm diversification and community.

Pictures: Sample balls of wool, Some knitted up, Cotton 'scraps' yarn.

Our Mission: 

Blackfell Fibre offers a range of items for sale, sustainably sourced and traceable from the sheep to the shop. We pay our farmers for fleeces (sometimes this payment is in processed wool) and will continue to do so to help support the surrounding community.

Pictures: Green and Purple batt with spun outcome, Purple Spun Wool and Pink and Blue dying. 

Risks and Challenges:

We think we have been good with the time scales on this project but production on the badges is being done externally from us, there may be delays here but we have experience with Made by Cooper and they are very good with timelines.

For the people buying our wool, we hope you like it, we have 100% positive feedback on Esty and from craft markets, example below:

Updates for you to look forward to:

  • The story of Blackfell FIbre - it’s a good plot.
  • The process of wool - with Izzey the Shetland
  • The Craft Groups we belong to
  • Patterns and Dye Recipes
  • Can Sarah really knit and hula at the same time?
  • Why are there so few pictures of Rachel?
  • What has Pixel Art got to do with it?
  • And other topics - that may come up out of questions. 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME, PLEASE SHARE THIS PAGE WHERE YOU CAN.

(and thank you to all our day to day supporters - Ruth, Matt, Chris to say but a few, who keep us going on a daily basis and of course the farmers and The Northern Fells Spinning Group who we blame fully for setting us on this road)

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

3 of 20 claimed

For the Fibre Spinners and Artists

200g of mystery wool batts, ready for spinning. The batts will compliment to one another and will be dyed and blended ready to go. Plus the badge and the downloads. (Plant fibre offered also, please message for detailing)

£5 or more

A great big thank you! (And knitting patterns)

THANK YOU. Your support means a lot to us. May your craft projects always work out, speaking of which after the campaign we shall send out digital downloads of some of our tried and tested patterns for knitting and crochet for you to try out.

£8 or more

3 of 20 claimed

EARLY BIRD BADGE TIER

For getting in early we're offering you a discount on the badge tier. Wear your Pixel the Sheep with pride and know you not only got a bargain to delighted some independent business owners. Downloads come with this too.

£10 or more

7 of 100 claimed

Pixel the Sheep Badge

You might not be crafty but you might like a fun badge to wear. Meet Pixel the Sheep our logo and be the first to get your hands on this cute enamel 35mm badge.

£30 or more

6 of 10 claimed

Hat and matching Snood

Who doesn't need a hat and infinity scarf? Hand spun Cumbrian fleece and either natural tones or dyed. Badge and Downloads also included.

£40 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Herdwick Bag

As featured in Update Four. Cmes with the badge and downloads, of course. This is a Herdwick handbag - handspun, hand dyed wool, made by Rachel. Herdwick crochet striped handbag, lined with canvas type purple fabric and closes with a button. The yarn was hand processed, spun, dyed and is from local Cumbrian sheep. 9 inches wide, 10 inches tall and a 52 inch long strap.

£50 or more

4 of 5 claimed

Handknitted Socks, fancy!!!

1 Pair of hand knitted socks. Made by Rachel. These socks will be hand spun from Cumbrian fleece and knit to the size needed. Also included: a limited edition badge and the downloads.

£60 or more

2 of 5 claimed

Beginners spinning class, 1-2-1, (Caldbeck, UK)

Not only will you get 600g of fibre, which will be a mix of plain wool for learning and coloured and blended for practice. The badge and downloads but an afternoon (three hours, of date to be discussed) of spinning tuition with Sarah on either a modern or traditional wheel (you can use both on the day). Refreshments will be provided.

£100 or more

3 of 10 claimed

£100 Etsy Voucher for Blackfell Fibre

Come talk to us about your woolly projects. For backing us on Crowdfunder we'll give you 20% bonus.

£400 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Blanket

A blanket of up to 2kg/2m square of wool. Either Grannie Square or Virus design (see main page for pictures) in up to 5 colours. Please message if you have any questions or design ideas in mind. Plant fibres available also, please message for options.

£600 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Everything you need to start spinning

One reconditioned Haldane traditional spinning wheel - She's a beautiful wheel in dark wood stain, 6 fibre processing and spinning classes and 1kg of fibre - ready to go. You can wear the badge as you spin if you like. Classes will be held in Caldbeck with tea and biscuits on tap. Classes can be over a long weekend or several weeks.

£4,000 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Name the Carding Machine

That's right, you can name our new carding machine, as you've paid for it, so Cardy McCardface or Card Von Trappe - whatever, it's up to you. We shall have a plaque made to be put on the carder so everyone will know of your great generosity. We'll send you a letter of gratitude, a one-off art print designed by Rachel + Sarah, badge, pattern downloads, pair of hand knitted socks, hat, snood and arm warmers all to match.

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