I finally get to share with you something that I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. If you are a regular reader here, you’ve already probably noticed that my passion for natural dyes and local fiber has sort of taken over in my life. You may also remember that I opened a small Etsy shop to sell my stash of naturally dyed wool yarns. But that’s not all. I’ve been working towards a vision that’s more true to my values: sourcing only local and regional materials for my craft, and in so doing, being a part of restoring local and regional textile networks.
The pilot yarn line that I am now launching, the Gather & Grow “Carolina” yarn, is all domestic and regional wool, milled at an eco-friendly North Carolina fiber mill and hand-dyed with locally sourced natural plant dyes at my backyard dye studio here in Columbia, South Carolina.
I’m proud to collaborate with Echo View Fiber Mill in Weaverville, North Carolina, which produces luscious, high-quality yarns out of fiber produced by local fiber farmers and farmers across the country. I’ve come to really respect their ethics and integrity. I selected two yarn bases for my naturally dyed yarns: one is a wool-mohair-alpaca mix sourced entirely from North Carolina (the mohair and alpaca come from their own farm); the other is 100% US grown, soft Merino wool yarn.
And the dyes are natural plant dyes that I myself gather and grow (how appropriate, isn’t it…). The only exception is indigo, which I haven’t yet been able to source locally, but that will change, hopefully as soon as next year as indigo growing returns to South Carolina. The first colorway I launch are soft pastels: a sunny yellow and olive green from goldenrod, shell pink from madder, smoky purple and mint green from purple basil, and earthy straw and bark colors from Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan). This winter, I’m dyeing darker and brighter winter colors with indigo, madder, black walnut and staghorn sumac. These plants grew in our local soils, and I can tell you where each came from. Some grew in the dye garden I planted in the spring; others I’ve foraged wherever I found them — by roadside, on abandoned lots, by the Congaree River and even in the yards of friendly neighbors (with permission, of course). I am conscious of the environmental footprint of every step of the dye process, use only non-toxic dyes and mordants, and have built in systems to minimize waste and conserve water.
These yarns are my craft and my passion, and I’m happy to share them with the world. If you want to support locally based, ecologically responsible fiber culture, and get some colorful wool to keep you warm this winter — or give it to the knitter/weaver/crocheter in your life — head over to the Etsy shop where they are now available.