Life with Cancer

It is difficult to write this but I feel that I must share my experiences as part of my healing process. In early July, I found a lump and went to visit my doctor. A mammogram, ultrasound and a core needle biopsy revealed that this was Stage 3 breast cancer. 6 Days later I found myself in hospital undergoing a radical mastectomy. 9 Lymph nodes were also removed during the procedure.
The lab results showed that this was not a standard type of breast cancer but an extremely rare form, called Metaplastic Breast Cancer. Which is not actually a breast cancer, but a type of Skin cancer that happened to grow within my breast. My doctor informed me that there are no known successful treatments for this type of cancer, therefore he does not recommend further chemo treatments. The chemo could possibly do more harm than good. I will also be meeting with my oncologist in a few weeks to discuss more details of this type of cancer and treatment options.
If there are no successful treatments that modern medicine can provide, my best and only alternative is to look into holistic types of healing, using natural and organic foods, exercise, meditation and faith.
Due to the surgery, I have limited use of my right arm, so am unable to do any craft or textile work until my arm strengthens and heals.
I have had to cancel and postpone any workshops that I had scheduled. If you have booked a workshop with me, I will keep you updated on my progress.
I will continue to post updates to my story from time to time on my All Fiber Arts website.


Fish Leather Bags

Fish skins have been tanned and used for clothing, purses, and even armour in many cultures and countries.Fish skin in modern days is mostly considered to be a waste product and is discarded or ground up for fertilizer or animal foods. The fish skin waste can be reclaimed, tanned and made into beautiful and functional items. Fish leather is stronger than a tanned animal hide because the connective tissues are more like a woven material. When properly tanned, fish leather does not smell fishy, but is soft and supple, much like softly tanned suede leather.

I have begun to work with this wonderful material that nature provides, and to combine it with reindeer leather and wool vadmal, to make purses, bags, bracelets and other items. Because both the fish and reindeer leathers quite delicate to work with most items are carefully hand stitched together rather than using a sewing machine. Each piece can take 8 – 20 hours to complete. Each piece is made from a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of fish leather so every item is unique. The colours and textures vary depending on the species of fish and the tanning methods used. I try to source only fish leather that has been ethically sourced and tanned with natural tanning ingredients.
Please visit my Etsy shop to see the latest hand stitched fish leather products.
I am also tanning some of my own fish leather. Please visit Sami Fish Leather for more information.

Hand Stitching Salmon Leather
Hand Stitching Salmon Leather

Salmon Leather Flex Frame Pouch
Salmon Fish Leather Flex Frame Pouch
Salmon / Reindeer Leather Flex Frame Purse
Salmon Skin and Reindeer Leather Flex Frame Purse

Saami Reindeer Leather Coffee Bags

Sami Coffee Bag
This style of reindeer leather bag was used by the Sami to carry their coffee. Coffee was an important commodity to the Sami, so they kept it close to them and carried it in a special bag tied to their waist. As the Sami are a nomadic people, when they set up camp in an area, the wood fire was lit, and the coffee pot was set to brew, ready to be shared with everyone once the tents and camp were set up.

The Sami coffee bags are hand stitched using reindeer leather and Vadmal wool fabric. The bags are decorated with traditional Saami band weaving and pewter thread embroidery.
Vadmal is a woven wool cloth that has been felted. Felting the fabric after weaving, thickens the cloth and makes it wind and water resistant as well as warm. Vadmal is generally woven in a tabby or a twill weave on warp weighted or floor looms. In order to felt the fabric, the wet fabric can be pounded in a hammer mill for several hours in order to flatten and thicken the fabric. The hammering process creates a fabric that looks more like “real cloth” and produces a stable fabric with very little nap and the wool keeps its shine.

Saami Reindeer Leather Coffee Bag
Saami Reindeer Leather Coffee Bag

Sami Coffee Bag
Sami Coffee Bag

Sami Coffee Bag
Sami Coffee Bag

Sami Coffee Bag
Sami Coffee Bag

If you would like to purchase a hand stitched Sami reindeer leather coffee bag, please visit my PaivatarYarn shop on Etsy.

Reindeer Leather Purses

I make these reindeer leather pouches and purses using small textile scraps of reindeer leather, because reindeer leather is hard to obtain. The Saami raise reindeer herds mostly for their own use. They use every part of the animal, for food, for clothing, for tools and other items. Only a small portion of reindeer leather is sold to the general public. Nothing is wasted.

Pewter or Tin thread was known as the poor man’s silver. The Saami would melt down pewter or tin plates and spin the metal into a fine thread which they used to make jewellery and decorate their clothing and other items.

The bags and purses are all hand made. The bags are decorated with pewter thread that is hand stitched onto the leather or onto wool vadmal fabric. I use traditional Saami rock are symbols for most of the designs.

Reindeer Leather Pouch - Spiral
Reindeer Leather Pouch – Spiral

Reindeer Leather Coin Pouch
Reindeer Leather Coin Pouch

Saami Reindeer Leather Coin Purse - Saami Sun
Saami Reindeer Leather Coin Purse – Saami Sun

Please visit my PaivatarYarn on Etsy shop to see the latest handmade reindeer leather bags.
Or contact me if you would like to discuss a custom order.

Reindeer Leather Keyfobs

Reindeer Leather Key Chains decorated with Pewter Thread embroidery.
I hand stitch these keyfobs using small scraps of reindeer leather because reindeer leather is a precious commodity and hard to obtain. The Saami raise the reindeer herds and use every part of the animals – for their food, clothing, tools and other items. They only sell small amounts of reindeer leather to the general community. Nothing is wasted.

The reindeer leather keyfobs are embellished with pewter thread that has been hand stitched onto wool vadmal fabric. I use symbols and designs that are based on historic Saami rock art drawings and sacred drums. The reverse of the keychain is made of reindeer leather.

Saami Reindeer Leather Keyfobs
Saami Reindeer Leather Keyfobs

Please check my PaivatarYarns shop on Etsy for the latest reindeer leather key fobs.

Tablet Weaving Card Sets

I have designed some new tablet weaving cards that are made of durable plastic, because I didn’t like to use the matt board ones. I found that they tended to wear out rather quickly.
I designed these cards to be made of plastic so that they would be able to withstand the friction that is placed on the tablets during weaving. The edges are smooth and the cards turn easily.
The plastic tablets are not mass produced. but are made locally by skilled craftsmen.

The Paivatar tablet cards come in 4 colours: Red, Yellow, Blue and Green

One face of the card has a logo, the other side is blank. The multiple colours allow you to use different colours if you are turning groups of cards in different directions. The cards are not numbered, but you can easily write numbers or letters on them with a permanent marker to help you keep track while weaving. Be sure to let the ink dry before using the tablets.

The cards are slightly smaller than the standard tablet weaving cards that are on the market (60 mm square) Because the cards are thin and slightly smaller in size than other tablet weaving cards, I find it easy to hold several in my hand – and I have fairly small hands. The thinner size is also better when working with fine yarns as it allows the warp yarns to be sett closer together, much as in weaving with a fine dent reed.

The holes in the cards are also slightly smaller than the standard cards. This helps to keep the warp threads in alignment while weaving, as there is less play in the warp.

Paivatar Tablet Weaving Cards
Paivatar Tablet Weaving Cards

Paivatar Tablet Weaving Cards
The weaving cards are sold in sets of 40 cards
10 of each colour: Red, Green, Yellow, Blue

If you would like to order a larger quantity, please contact me.

Etsy Shop -Paivatar Tablet Weaving Cards

Finn Slough

My father was a Finnish Saami. After immigrating to Canada he became a commercial fisherman, gillnet fishing on the west coast of Vancouver. In the early 1960’s my dad purchased a small fishing shack from another long time resident of Finn Slough – Mr. Hämäläinen. In the summer months he would travel in his gillnetter fishing boat up the coast to fish in the small fishing villages of Sointula and Rivers Inlet. During the winter months he would return to Vancouver and repair his nets at his fishing hut at the mouth of the Fraser River.

Sam’s Smoked Salmon at Finn Slough

Salomon 'Sam' Halonen
Salomon ‘Sam’ Halonen

Sam Halonen Fixing Nets - Photo by Eero Sorila
Sam Halonen Fixing Nets – Photo by Eero Sorila

Photo Art by Robert Lane

Sam at Finn Slough -
Sam at Finn Slough – 1000 Dyke Road – photo by Robert Lane

Finn Slough Fishing Shacks
Finn Slough Fishing Shacks
Finn Slough View
Finn Slough View – photo art by Robert Lane
Finn Slough Dock
Finn Slough Dock – photo art by Robert Lane
My Family at Dad's Fishing Shack
My Family at Dad’s Fishing Shack
Sam Halonen and Renae the Boat
Sam Halonen and Renae the Boat

More about Finn Slough
Finn Slough Heritage Society
Michael Kluckner
The Fishing Village of Finn Slough by Eero Sorila

Chi Perspective – Robert Lane

Paivatar Acid Dyes

I have been using acid dyes for many years to dye wool, silk and other protein fibres. I used to use the CIBA brand of acid dyes but I can no longer find them. So I went on a search for other acid dyes that work in a similar fashion. After much trial and error, I have located a range of dyes that I am happy with.
These dyes are an industrial strength acid dye that has low environmental impact.
The dyes come in a powder form and can be an irritant to your nose and throat as they are a very fine powder. So I find it best to mix the dye into a stock solution when you first purchase them. This is easily done by making the dye into a paste with cold water, and then adding 1 litre (or quart) of water. The dye stock must be heated to +80 degrees C to dissolve the dye. Once the dye is dissolved, pour the stock solution into a Mason or Kilner jar and it is ready to use. The dye stock will safely last for 6-12 months. I have some dye stock that has lasted me +2 years.

To use the dye, add some vinegar or citric acid to your dye pot filled with water. I always use a pH tester to check the acidity of the dyebath. These dyes work best when the pH is between 3-4. A lower pH can cause the wool to become harsh, much the same as a high pH can do to wool.

To dye a strong colour, I add a tablespoon of dye stock to the dyebath, mix the solution and heat the dyebath to +60 degrees C and add wetted wool or silk. It is best if the yarn has been thoroughly soaked in water first, in order to get an even colour. For stronger colour, add more dye. To get lighter shades add less dye.
In order to mix colours, you can add one or more of the dye stock colours to the dyepot. You will need to experiment to see what colours you can create.

I don’t like to waste dyes so I never throw out the dye solutions but reuse them until all of the dye has exhausted and the water is clear. If you can’t complete all your dye work on the same day, the dyes can be kept and reused for several days. Sometimes a bit of mould may develop on top of the dye solution. This is caused by the vinegar that has been added to the dye solution. You can safely wipe this off with a paper towel and continue using the dye solution until exhausted.

If you need to dispose of the dyes, it is best to pour them into the sewage system where the dye is removed by adsorption onto the activated sludge at the local treatment plant and so does not enter the environment.

I now have these dyes available for sale as a dye kit. The kit will include 10 grams of each dye colour. This is sufficient dye to make 1 litre of each dye in a 1% dye stock solution.
The colours included in the dye kit are the 3 prime colours (Magenta, Cyan, Yellow) and 2 Worker colours that enable you to make different shades of red and blue more easily.

Magenta – Rhodamine Acid Red 52
Cyan – Acid Green 25
Yellow – Tartrazine E102
Worker Red – Acid Red 57
Worker Blue – Acid Blue 62

Total Price per dye kit: £35.00
plus shipping

Please contact me if you would like more information.

I have MSDS sheets available on request.

Plant Dyed Rya Rug Yarns

For those who would like to make their own traditional style rya rug, I am now hand dyeing rya yarns using natural plant dyes. The world of plant dyes offers much variety and gentle colour to yarns. Each batch is uniquely dyed as the colour and shading varies depending on the soil and growing conditions of the plants, the acidity of the dye water and the length of time in the dyepot. This variety of colour gives a plant dyed rya rug a rich depth of shading.

I use high quality worsted spun wool for my hand dyed rya rug yarns. The yarns are quite soft to the touch. Rya rugs are not designed to be used as a floor rug but are meant to be hung on a wall as a tapestry and family heirloom. Please treat your hand made rya rug with care, so that you can pass it on to future generations. Plant dyes are more sensitive to gentle fading. Please hang your rya rug in a place that is not in direct sunlight, to help preserve the brightness of the colours.

Plant Dyed Rya Rug Yarn
Plant Dyed Rya Rug Yarn

If you are using my handwoven rya rug backing for making your own rug, the backing is woven at 15 knots per 10 cm.
I have worked out a rough chart of how much rya rug yarn you will need to purchase, based on a pile length of 3 cm and 4 strands of yarn per knot. If you wish to make a rug with a longer or thicker pile, then you will need to order more yarn than suggested.

Backing Width CMKnots per RowRows per MeterTotal Meters of YarnTotal GramsNo. Skeins
100 cm1508530601500 grams30 skeins
80 cm1208524501250 grams25 skeins
60 cm908518501000 grams20 skeins
50 cm75851550800 grams16 skeins
40 cm60851250600 grams12 skeins

Natural Plant Dyed Rya Wool Yarns

I am adding new plant dyed yarn colours on a continuing basis, as I dye and experiment with the dyes that are available and in season. I use both local plants and natural dyes from around the world.
Here is the current selection of plant dyed yarns.
All yarns are hand dyed at the time of your order. Please allow 3-4 weeks for completion of your order.
Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to place an order.

The Rya rug yarns are sold in 50 gram skeins.
Each skein has approx. 120 meters per skein.
Cost per skein: £20.00 GBP

Reds, Pinks and Orange shades of colour can be obtained by changing the pH of the dyebath, the amount of dye used and the length of the dye soak.

Indian Madder Root - Rubia Cordifolia
Indian Madder Wool Yarn
Indian Madder Wool Yarn
Madder Dyed Yarn
Madder Dyed Rya Yarn
Madder  Light Rya Yarn
Madder Light Rya Yarn
Brazilwood - Caesalpinia Sappan
Brazilwood Dyed Wool Yarn
Brazilwood Dyed Wool Yarn
Brazilwood Light Rya Yarn
Brazilwood Light Rya Yarn
Brazilwood Madder Blends
Brazilwood Madder Rya Wool Yarn
Brazilwood Madder Rya Wool Yarn
Madder root Pinks Plant Dyed Yarns
Madder Pinks Plant Dyed Yarns

From rich golds to soft and pale yellows. Most flower petals and leaves provide a source for yellows. Many of these colours have been obtained from local dye plants and are seasonal.

Himalayan Rhubarb - Yellow
Himalayan Rhubarb Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Tan Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Tan Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Yellow Plant Dyed Yarns
Himalayan Rhubarb Yellows
Eucalyptus Leaves - Yellow
Eucalyptus Leaves Yellow
Eucalyptus Leaves Yellow

Purples Lilac and Grey colours are made by blending different natural plant dyes together.

Brazilwood Madder Alkanet
Brazilwood Madder Rya Rug Wool
Brazilwood Madder Rya Rug Wool
Alkanet Purple Rya Rug Yarn
Alkanet Purple Rya Rug Yarn
Alkanet Light Rya Rug Yarn
Alkanet Light Rya Rug Yarn
Alkanet Grey Rya Rug Wool
Alkanet Grey Rya Rug Wool

Most green colours are made by blending Blue Indigo dyed yarn with one of the Yellow natural dye plants.

Himalayan Rhubarb - Indigo
Himalayan Rhubarb Indigo Light Green Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Indigo Light Green Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Indigo Dark Green Rya Wool
Himalayan Rhubarb Indigo Dark Green Rya Wool

Blue colours are made by dipping yarn into natural Indigo or Woad vats. The depth of colour can vary greatly depending on the strength of the Vat and the number of times the yarn is dipped into the dye Vat.

Indigo - Indigo Fera Tinctoria
Indigo Blue Light Rya Wool
Indigo Blue Light Rya Wool
Indigo Blue Rya Wool Yarn
Indigo Blue Rya Wool Yarn
Indigo Dark Blue Rya Wool
Indigo Dark Blue Rya Wool
Indigo Blues Plant Dyed Yarns
Indigo Blues Plant Dyed Yarns