Natural Dye Wrapup

From farm to needle..our journey begins

Becoming involved in the local fibershed has been a dream of a decade for Kat of Why Knot Fibers; from the plants grown and foraged for color to the animals raised for their fleece. She longed to know the whole story of her clothes and knits; the farmers and processors, the dyers and weavers that touch each item along its way. Claire also felt the need to understand what goes into the final product, all the variables, and how that affects the outcome. It started with Kat showing her how to hand spin, and then dyeing and then she too caught the bug about wanting/needing to know and be a part of the whole process.

While we did a small run of yarns from fiber grown locally, it turned out it was not enough and it only peaked our interest in branching out. Smitten yarn is our first big jump into realizing that dream. Why Knot Fibers has nurtured relationships of trust and friendship with farmers, shearers, mills, and local yarn shops in an effort to bring you a farm-to-needle yarn that is as close to the source as can be. Smitten yarn is a 70/30 blend of Finn fiber and Alpaca, spun at Stonehedge in East Jordan into two weights, DK and Fingering, and can be ordered in limited quantities.

The Finn fiber in Smitten was sourced from Iron Wheel Farm in Beaverton, Michigan. If you’re unfamiliar with Finn sheep, you’re in for a treat. It is considered one of the more versatile sheep, being both a good meat and hair sheep with a fleece that has an against-the-skin softness and boasts a lovely springy crimp. The sheep are friendly and sociable, not to mention cute and snuggly!

Huacaya Alpaca was the blending fiber of choice and hails from several farms around the state and was provided to Why Knot Fibers by The Alpaca Barbers, Matt and Katie. It was important to Kat and Claire that there be enough to complete a 1-skein project with, so Smitten is available in DK weight with 250 yards per skein and Fingering weight with 400 yards per skein. It is made up of 70% Finn sheep fiber and 30% Huacaya Alpaca fiber.

Working with farmer and fiber enthusiast Christina Barkel and Michelle Ferrarese (owner of Birch Point Farm), we are beginning the cultivation of our own Michigan-grown dye plants. We are currently able to harvest dyer’s coreopsis for gold and orange, goldenrod and willow for creamy and bright yellows, and pokeberry weed for mauve and purples. We have also planted Indigo and are beginning the fermentation process to extract the pigment in order to start dyeing with it. Other plants we are pursuing are madder and dyer’s alkanet, both of which need to establish for several years before the roots can be harvested. We plan to expand our indigo and coreopsis beds next year, and then, who knows.

Views from our natural dye workshop last weekend We feel so privileged to have been able to share our love of fiber and natural dyes with a group of folks as enthusiastic about locally sourced and naturally dyed products as we are!
These ladies blew us away with their curiosity and willingness to experiment with color and layering.

Our hearts are full.  We have a most loving and vibrant fiber community. 

Photos: Top L-R showing indigo, willow over-dyed with indigo, goldenrod.  Bottom L-R Madder, madder over-dyed with indigo.

If you weren't able to make it to Wool and Honey last weekend, you're in luck!  We will have a limited number of naturally dyed Michigan yarns, as well as a palette of 12 Michigan-inspired colorways on our new Smitten yarn at the Michigan Fiber Festival next weekend.

 Upcoming Events

August 18, 19, & 20, 2017
Find us in building 8B, booth #40

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