Our dear friend John Crane is always up to something interesting. His fiber interests range from traditional Gansey knitting, to natural dyeing techniques. His visits to our Mill are always a treat, because he often brings projects with him so that we can see (and feel) what he’s been working on.
You may recognize his name, because last year he shared with us a treasure trove of unique fleeces that he had collected from all over the world, allowing us to make 5 unusual limited edition yarns. These precious skeins gave many of us our first chance to work with unusual heritage wool blends. You can read more about that project here.
This week, he brought in a beautiful basket of skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery Lana, that he’s recently dyed with plants from his garden. These subtle hues were achieved with flora common to many New England flower beds: goldenrod, marigold, Joe Pye weed, sumac, rhubarb and blood root. In the center of the basket you can see the single skein of creamy white undyed Blanco for comparison.
We love the range of colors that he’s created, and know that this spectrum will complement the soft tweedy shades of the Lana line for a larger “paintbox” to play with for stranded color work that will reflect nature’s diverse palette. He’s assured us that he’ll share future projects that feature these skeins.
In the meantime, we thought we’d share a valuable resource with you, in case you feel inspired to do a bit of natural dyeing yourself while your garden is replete with options. Kristine Vejar’s book: The Modern Natural Dyer is as beautiful as it is chock full of helpful instruction.
She is one of the creative forces behind A Verb for Keeping Warm, a unique creative space in Oakland, CA.
“Located at 6328 San Pablo Ave, their Oakland brick-and-mortar houses a store, an indoor and outdoor classroom, an indoor and outdoor natural dyeing studio, where they produce their own line of naturally dyed yarn and fabric, and a natural dyeing garden. The garden is used to educate local school children, customers, and aspiring dye gardeners about which types of plants make dye. At Verb, you can find batches of yarn dyed with these plants.”
We are connected with the folks at Verb through our love of fiber and because we have the honor of spinning many of their lovely yarns. You can learn more about that collaboration by tuning into the second episode of their Reverberate podcast which features an interview with one of our founding Co-op members, David Ritchie.
Many of our un-dyed yarns work well for natural dyeing. You can find a fun selection of various weights and fiber blends on our website, here. We hope that you’ll consider giving natural dyeing a whirl this summer. It can be fun to try something new and you can give yourself a mini craft camp experience in your own back yard!