In this episode I talk to Amy DuFault. She is the organizer of the Southeastern New England Fibershed as well as the Director of Sustainability for Botanical Colors. We had a fascinating conversation about all kinds of things. It started out as a talk about how to naturally dye while traveling. We also veered into all kinds of other topics. We had a great time. I hope you enjoy it too. You can listen to it wherever you listen to podcasts and even as a video podcast on Spotify. Find it here.
The new season of the Flying Goat Podcast is all about Natural Dyeing. Each episode highlights one dye material and one of our great farm yarns. Here’s what you’ve missed so far:
Episode 1: Natural Dyeing 101 Episode 2: Foraging, Cultivating or Free Trade Episode 3: Raw materials, extracts and liquid dyes Episode 4: Kitchen and Food Waste Dyes and Episode 5: Planting a Dye Garden just dropped today.
I’ve taught about Cochineal, Madder, Osage, Black Walnut, and Avocado skins and pits.
We’ve looked at our Livily yarn, Fingal II, Yearling Mohair, Polypay Wild and Livily Bounce
You don’t like to just listen? I get that…. I’m a visual person as well. I lose focus on just recorded podcasts or audiobooks. You can also watch the podcast on our You Tube channel.
I hope you tune in and find out about this low impact way to color our textiles. Colors that are climate beneficial and yarns that have a really low carbon footprint.
This season is all about Natural Dyes. How to grow them, How to forage for them, How to use them and How to take care of your naturally dyed fabrics. Each episode also includes a Dye highlight and a farm yarn highlight. You can subscribe on iTunes or Spotify. And listen on whatever podcast that you enjoy! Three episodes have already dropped. You can find them here!
In this episode of the Flying Goat Farm podcast, I talk about the benefits and pitfalls of natural dyes. I also help you with questions about how to use these yarns effectively in a pattern. And once you’ve invested in naturally dyed yarn, fabric or clothing, how should you take care of them so they are part of your wardrobe for the longest time.
Today, I thought I would highlight some of my naturally dyed yarn. This yarn is our PolyPay worsted weight yarn. It was grown in Virginia on a partner farm. I had it clean, carded and spun into this wonderful 2 ply.
Each set has four 50 yard mini skeins. Some are gradients and others are just colors that look great together.
I new yellow and green set is in the works. You can find them here.
If you follow my social media and these blog posts, you know that I am currently working very hard to bring a naturally dyed yarn line to you. I also want part of the yarn line to be Fibershed certified, when it is possible to do in our Chesapeake Fibershed. So I’ve been foraging around our 25 acres and in places within 10 miles here to find dye plants that I can use. Yesterday, I was able to get some of these dye plants collected and prepared for dyeing into the fall.
Black Walnuts grow wild here on the property. They are just beginning to ripen and fall off the tree. I collected several pounds of them. Walnuts are dual purpose. The outer husk is where the dye lives. And the inner nut is oh, so yummy. Yes, they are hard to pick out from the shell, but they are worth the trouble in my opinion. So yesterday I broke open the husks and put those into a dye bag and laid out the nuts to dry in the sun.
We grew Hopi Black Sunflowers this year. Bill harvested the seed head several weeks ago, and I’ve been slowly picking the seeds out of the sunflower head. I’ll save these until later to dye, they will keep just fine. I saved the seed heads with some seeds in them to plant for next year. The plants are lovely and grew probably 8 feet in height. There’s nothing prettier in summer than a row of sunflowers.
And then there were the pokeberries. I cut off the sprays of berries and put them straight away into the freezer. I have to read up on how to dye with these. Unfortunately this dye tends to fade but still it will be lovely to try to use plants that our ancestors used.
We also harvested acorns, although we don’t have nearly enough to do anything with at this time. I will just keep adding to the stash until I have enough. And we picked up hickory nuts too. Those are just to pick and eat. They are also hard to crack and to get the nut meat out of, but they are really really nice. It feels great to live in a place where we can go out and forage for dyes and for food.
I’ve been talking about Fibershed. And in that light, I know that I need to relearn all about natural dyeing again. I’ve done it a lot. I’ve taken a lot of classes. But I’ve never done it in a production with reproducibility in mind. I will have to really pay attention to water and temperature and weight. And still I know there will be variability….that’s just the nature of natural dyeing.
As many of you know I do have a few naturally colored yarns in my line up already. They are more rustic yarns. They are not as soft as my Livily or Trasna yarns. They are just a little more hardy. And still, there are many items to make with these yarns. They are great for outwear. They are long wearing and will last a long time.
So in that vein, I’m now knitting a truly local sweater. I’m making a Shifty sweater. And I’ve had to do a lot of math and fanageling because I am using my own yarn that is bigger than the pattern calls for. And I don’t want a pullover style. So I added a steek area and so I’ll have a cardigan at the end. The back ground yarn is my Puck which is charcoal wool, mohair and alpaca. And the contrast yarns are mohair yarn that is naturally dyed. In fact this yarn has been hanging around for a long time since I dyed it. And now I have a project for it.
So if you would like to hear about fibershed and color. Tune into Episode 12 here. Or you can subscribe to it on itunes.
We’ve had a really mild winter. We had a week or two with temperatures in the teens. But it was a dry cold. We had maybe 2 or 3 days of snow and then it didn’t stay for a long time. It has made my winter feeding pretty easy.
So now I’m dreaming about restarting my natural dye garden. I tried this several years ago. And the only successful planting was the Madder. Oh Boy! It has taken over. I’m hoping to dig all the roots up in a few weeks. A great resource for dye plants is Rita Buchanan’s A Weaver’s Garden.
As part of my thoughts about a local wardrobe and a local fibershed, I decided to go all in with dye plants this year. I got plants that make blue, yellows, reds and a black.
I’m going to plant more and in a place where there is more sun as well. I’ll be updating here as the season progresses.