The brilliant colours of the Aurinkokehrä collection are made with ethically and sustainably produced natural dye extracts, safely without toxins. The material is mainly durable, clean and soft Finnsheep wool, and the beautiful natural shades of the wool complete and give depth to the hues of the natural dyes. The wool comes from small farms, only the finest quality is selected for the worsted spun yarn, where the shortest fibers are removed by combing. This makes the Aurinkokehrä yarn exceptionally soft.
The sock yarn is a durable carded yarn, tightly spun from a mixture of two types of local wool.
The naturally dyed wool yarn is available in five different weights:
- DK weight, suitable for knitting: 110 x 4 tex, 210m / 100g (needles 3-4),
- Fingering, suitable for example to make shawls , gloves etc. and even good for machine knitting: 90 x 3 tex, 360m / 100g (needles 2 – 2,5)
- Laceweight is sold in 50 g balls: 90 x 1 tex, 540 m / 50 g (use any needles you like…!).
- Two-Ply is on small cones of 1000 meters: a good yarn for weaving, crochet, lace , machieknitting etc. ((90 x 2 tex. n. 180g / 1000m)
- 100% wool sock yarn, a durable two-ply carded yarn for nordic socks, but also other projects, like Norwegian sweaters. (n. 100m / 50g)
The natural dyes are ecological and ethically produced. These dyes have been proven safe and durable during centuries of use.
Alum, a non-toxic mordant, is used to fix the colors.
Indigo dyeing begins with the extraction of indigan from the leaves of Indigofera Tinctoria or Central American Indigofera Suffruticosa. The water soluble indigan will then be oxidized to form the actual indigo pigment. The indigo pigment is not water soluble, therefore the dyeing process requires first a reduction and then the oxidation of the pigment, when the blue color becomes visible. This process is more demanding than the other natural dyeing methods using mordants, and is done separately.
The latin name Reseda Luteola refers to Luteolin, a very potent and durable dyestuff the plant contains. This plant has been widely cultivated for dyeing purposes for centuries. Combined with indigo, weld produces bright and vibrant shades of green.
Madder comes from the roots of the Rubia Tinctoria plant. Madder dyes warm shades of red and orange.
The bright cold shades of red come from the Cochineal insect, lat. Coccus Cacti, living on the leaves of a cactus plant. The species is native to Southern America, and is commercially cultivated for dyestuff production. The biggest user of cochineal nowadays is the cosmetic industry.
The worsted wool yarn is spun in Pirtin Kehräämö, mainly from soft Finnsheep wool. If there might be some other wool blended in the yarn this comes from crossbreed sheep, but the amount does not exceed 30%. Wool from meat production sheeps is not used, since the fibers are not suitable for fine combed yarn. The many natural colors of the Finnsheep wool create the base for the Aurinkokehrä color scheme. Other qualities are spun at local small spinning mills.
Unprocessed wool yarn requires gentle washing to avoid felting. Store the yarn airily, protected from direct sunlight and protect the yarn naturally from moths and other vermin with red cedar oil or pieces or actual red cedar wood.
Washing and taking care of your yarn
Natural dyes are sensitive to changes in pH and strong alkaline detergents may alter the color of the yarn. So naturally we recommend a neutral laundry detergent, designed for wool. Dyeing with natural colors is a slow and time consuming process and it takes time for the color to set on the fiber and yarn. This may result in some color leaking from the yarn in the first few washes. However, this will not stain other textiles, since there is no mordant present in the washing.
Wool rejects dirt naturally and does not catch odors, so it seldom needs washing. You can clean your woolen textiles by airing them regularly.
Local production against throwaway culture
The leading principle of Aurinkokehrä is to offer a sustainable product, a textile material produced without toxic substances, where the production process is transparent. The materials and the production processes have been planned so that they should load the environment and people as little as possible. The use of domestic materials supports local textile production and know-how, strengthening local economics.
A major share of wool used in Finland comes from abroad, whilst a large proportion of Finnish Wool is destroyed because the sheep farmers lack the financial incentive to manage the animals for optimal wool quality, or to clean, sort and grade it, themselves or by outsourcing. Production moved to countries in which the supervision of working conditions is weak, and where the dyeing and other handling of textiles strain both the environment and the health of workers. In addition, non-sustainable use of natural resources and climate change are negative consequences of rapidly growing textile industries favoring throwaway consumerism.
A step towards a fairer and more sustainable production chain is unavoidable for us to prove together that other solutions are also possible.
There are many problems internationally relating to the environment and handling of animals in wool production, such as the painful mulesing-treatment of sheep, the erosion caused by huge herds, as well as the emissions of harmful chemicals used. On small domestic farms such problems do not exist, why Finnish non-industrial sheep wool can be considered a more sustainable choice. In addition to that the consumption of water and energy is small as compared to the production of cotton, viscose and many other synthetic fibers.
As material wool is long-lasting. It is not necessary to wash wool very often, because it gets clean by airing, which means that also the environmental impacts, such as energy and water consumption during use, remain small. Different from polyester fleece, which is often used as warm medium shift to replace wool, wool is of course not emitting harmful microplastics to waterways.
Local production and cultural heritage
The yarns of Aurinkokehrä are locally produced and cherish millennial traditions in the dyeing of textiles and other materials by natural methods. When a product is made starting from the raw materials in Finland, the whole production chain is transparent: the wool coming from small farms, spinning in Hiirola and dyeing in Karjaa. By this, textile know-how is preserved in Finland. The natural dye extracts come from a reliable producer in France.
The Finnsheep, for its part, has a major role in our living cultural heritage and it also maintains valuable traditional landscape features and ecosystems which are being endangered by changes in agricultural methods.