An interview today with fibre producer, dyer and spinner Tammy Ivanco of Manjusha Farm, near Lorette Manitoba.
What is your business, and what fibre items do you sell or produce?
We go by the name Manjusha for our small hobby farm and kennel. It means box of jewels and totally describes our life. Manjusha has raw and processed fleeces, hand dyed roving and top, hand dyed yarns, and occasionally hand made soap and honey.
How did you get started in fibre arts or with your product?
I learned to knit so long ago, and I have no memories of really learning. I watched my grandmother and picked it up. My mother did crochet, and the granny square blanket was definitely in my background. I also had some spool knitting, and children’s weaving mixed in there. When I was young, I would crochet pencil holders that were sold at charity teas. More recently my husband decided he wanted sheep. I do not think he realized what would happen when the fuzzy creatures arrived. I decided I should be involved and went to watch someone spin. I thought “I can do that”, and I ordered a whieel like hers and just started spinning. I really enjoyed the natural wools and really came to appreciate them more than the acrylic style yarns I had used earlier. My mother and grandmother always claimed wool was itchy, but they never felt some of what I now work with, I am sure. I never thought of dyeing anything, but started with some hot fuschia dye on a brown heathered fleece of unknown type. It was beautiful and I was hooked. I started dyeing skeins of wool, washed fleece, and top. I now have multiple wheels, a big floor loom, a counter covered in dyeing supplies, and a basement and spare room full of fibre.
What inspires the work you do and things you create?
I love colours and mixes that are inspired by nature. Seasonal colours are wonderful for the dyepots. If I see a lovely sunset, flower, or scene, I am often heard saying, “I need wool that colour!” My ipad and phone are full of pictures that might someday be used as dye colours. On some days, I wet the yarn or top and wait for it to tell me what to do. Some of my inspiration comes from Maureen, of Tog and Thel, who I will share a booth with at this fibre festival. Maureen had introduced me to the spinning group that I love and she had been very encouraging on my first hot fuschia dyeing experience. She is always motivating me to try more and do better, and the sharing of ideas and outcomes has really been important in the overall development.
What is your favourite piece/item/colour/etc that you’ve ever created?
It’s so hard to have a favourite, but maybe I can narrow it to a couple that highlight my journey. One of my early handspun yarns was dyed with splashes of goldenrod and madder, and turned into a big, warm, winter shawl. It gets me all kinds of compliments and led me to love shawls even more. I had seen a pattern for a shawl that was so beautiful and wanted a yarn resembling a fall leaves for it. I envisioned fall leaves on a forest floor and dyed an angora-merino blend in softer fall colours of pale yellow, olive, orange, and brown. I loved how the colours turned out, but the nature of the wool, with a slight halo, just worked so well. I am not finished the shawl yet, but I am looking forward to it. I had dyed a fingering weight yarn with variegated blues, purples and burgundy that was purchased by someone in my spinning group. She really promoted the yarn in her project, which was a shawl with my yarn and a solid colour. It was stunning.
Look for Tammy and Maureen and their beautiful fibres in the booth they share at the Festival!