who i am and what I do
Hello! I’m Rachael. I have been spinning and dyeing fibre and yarn since 2012, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My life is filled with colours and textures, and I create beautiful colour mixes and fibre blends that makers love to look at, touch and transform.
Cat & Sparrow started in Australia in 2013, where Cathy, my business partner and I met and bonded over a shared love of spinning. We built it together until I left Australia to return to the UK in 2014. Cathy still runs Cat & Sparrow in Australia, which is on a hiatus at the moment while she is working in the UK.
On the site you can find my hand-dyed fibres. I dye these in my home/studio using non-toxic acid dyes, which produce the most wonderful, rich colours. You can also find blended fibres, which I design and are made for me by a mill up in Yorkshire. I also stock beautiful imported silks which I get from India, including golden Muga silk and rich natural red-gold Eri or Peace silk.
I’m a huge fan of great tools – I think that the making experience is enhanced by beautiful equipment, so I am really pleased to stock 3D-printed Turkish spindles by Turtlemade and also Lykke birch knitting needles and hooks, which are things of beauty both in form and function.
Where to find me
I’m now based in Bristol, where my home is my studio. It’s where I do all my dyeing, spinning, knitting and weaving. You can find me online on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I’m a regular at Frome Independent market on the first Sunday of every month. You can also find me at various wool shows throughout the year.
I love to chat about all things woolly and can happily do so for hours. If you have any questions, drop me a line at email@example.com.
Sustainability and the environment
Climate change, sustainability and pollution are all important considerations in the textile business. It’s important to me that I know where my fibres are coming from and how they have been produced. I’ve signed the Campaign for Wool’s Dumfries House Declaration, and where possible, I will always use British wool. The Merino and Polwarth I use is sourced from the Falklands, and so is classified as such. It also means that my Merino fibres do not come from mulesed flocks. The alpaca and llama I use come from Peru. I occasionally use angora in my batts, which I buy straight from small-scale British bunny lovers.
I also try to make sure that I use fibres that are, in general, sustainably and ethically produced.
Natural fibres like wool and silk are naturally sustainable and have little environmental impact when it comes to processing. For man-made fibres, this is an absolute minefield. For example, bamboo is a viscose fibre. Most viscose is made from eucalyptus wood, which is a highly water intensive crop, while bamboo production has many environmental benefits. In addition, the Chinese company that makes my bamboo fibre has an international environmental certification for its production method. However, it does still have an environmental impact as China’s energy is largely derived from coal, and the production of bamboo fibre is quite chemically intensive. I do use bamboo in my fibres, because in general I think it has many benefits over nylon, polyester and non-organic cotton. However, I am slowly phasing it out in preference of other fibres such milk protein fibre, Seacell and Tencel, which are extremely sustainable, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly.
For more information on sustainable textiles and fashion, I highly recommend Tortoise and Lady Grey.
Diversity and inclusion
I am committed to fostering a culture that embraces equality and values the diversity within our communities. More than this, I will use the voice I have in support of marginalised and vulnerable groups in these communities, and to listen, learn and take practical steps to break down systemic inequalities. My aim is to ensure that the spaces Cat & Sparrow operates in, both physical and online, are open, safe and inclusive. Discussion and feedback on any of Cat & Sparrow forums are welcomed. Bullying, silencing, discrimination and disrespectful language are not.
I am also committed to using accessible venues for events and meetings, and providing support to enable people to access any courses, workshops or talks that I undertake. I will always use plain English and make all my communications accessible. Feedback on this is also welcomed.