Yarn, Wool Felt, and Dye studio

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My yarn, wool felt, and dye studio is a place of meditation for me. Working with plant dyes and natural fibers (like wool, cotton, linen, silk) is slow, active, sometimes physically demanding, meditative work. In the end, there's a dress, curtains, a sweater, a hat, a wool painting. Something soft, lovely, and fun to continue enjoying the sacred space of slow fiber.

Naturally dyed wool, cotton, linen, and silk yarns, wool felt, and eco dyed fabrics wash beautifully with Ithaca Soap's Instant Liquid Soap. Every natural dye project I do, begins with a gentle hand washing and soak in a cold water bath with Instant Liquid Soap. 

Preparing natural wool 

Pre dye rinse: Patagonian Merino yarn in vinegar rinse after washing with Patchouli Liquid Soap Refill. Each hank is fingering weight 400 grams, 400 meters Needle size US2-4. The next photo is the finished yarn.
My plant dyed Patagonian Merino wool yarn in our booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY.
I grew Hopi Amaranth and made a solar dye. The yarn was in the dye for 4 weeks in the hot sun. When it was ready, I washed it again with Unscented Instant Liquid Soap, rinsed, and another vinegar soak.

When preparing natural wool to dye, I prefer to work wool that has already been cleaned and carded.  Since I prefer natural wool over super washed wool, it has not been treated for moths, I will use Patchouli Instant Liquid Soap for the first washing before dyeing or after, since it is a natural moth repellant. It's all I have ever used as a moth repellent and in 22 years, none of my plant dyed, hand knit garments have ever had moths destroy them.

Wash instructions for natural moth prevention for wool yarn or fiber plant dye  preparation below. 

Moth prevention wash instructions

If you are going to dye natural wool yarn or fabric to prepare it for plant dyes, follow the instructions below. The measurements are for about 2-3 lbs of fiber.

Take the bag of Instant Liquid Soap Patchouli and dilute it according to the instructions on the bag. Pour into a dispenser.

Fill a basin with cool water and drizzle in about an 1/8 cup (1-2 tablespoons) of the diluted soap. Gently swish the wool around. Go slow to prevent felting.

Once the fiber is saturated with the soapy water, leave for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes I leave it overnight.

Make sure there are enough suds. If the suds disappear as soon as you put the fiber in the water, that indicates that your wool is dirtier than you thought. Add a little bit more soap to have some suds. As the wool soaks, the suds will slowly disappear.

Drain and squeeze out any excess water. Do not twist, as this will cause the fiber to felt or become distorted. 

Rinse any debris out of your basin, and fill your wash basin again with cool water. Gently rinse your wool. Drain and fill the wash basin again with clean cool water. Remember to do this slowly to prevent felting and distorting the fiber. Add about 1/2 C white vinegar for every 4 oz. of wool. Soak for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze dry, roll up in a towel and step on it to get out all of the water. 

Yarn and wool felt from the dye studio

I had a selection of eco plant dyed Patagonian Merino yarn. Each hank is 400 meters, 400 grams. It knits up like cotton with beautiful spring and memory. We will no longer be going to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck along the Hudson River, as vendors. 

I'm considering doing another batch of yarn for sale in the future. Stay tuned.

When you finish knitting your sweater, I recommend washing and blocking it for the best results. Click here for hand washing instructions.

Blocking means to lay the wet sweater flat to dry, and shape it. Match your cuffs, make sure the shoulders and neck are straight, and the bottom rib is aligned. 

Dyed with Indigo, madder, and purple logwood, this boatneck sweater with jersey sleeves is super comfortable. Ask for the free pattern when you make an Instant Liquid Soap purchase.

Are you interested in knitting this sweater? You can get a free PDF download of this pattern with a 4 quart purchase of Instant Liquid Soap. Click here

Wool Felt from the dye studio

cardinals w apple blossomsThis painting is titled Cardinals with Apple Blossoms

stay tuned for felt story or go here

Eco plant prints on silk

Eco plant prints on natural fibers, such as wool, silk, rayon, and cotton is taking what nature has to offer to another level. It's like capturing the energy before it leaves at the end of the season. 

Andy's grandmother's heirloom iris on rayon
Spring scarlet maple leaf on silk. The maples only give this color within a 3 week window.
Placing onion skins on cotton


I had great success with African marigold seeds. I like this variety in particular because they are 3-4 feet tall and extremely prolific. 

I save the seeds and grade them. The best seeds are for replanting, while the weaker and imperfect ones are for my dye studio. Marigolds are an easy and very useful garden plant. They are nutritious chicken food, a terrific deer deterrent since they smell terrible, and make rich plant dyes for wool, silk, and cotton. 

The orange marigolds yield orange, green and purple dye, while the yellow marigolds yield yellow and purple. I'm going to do the yellow ones next. They are fabulous chick snacks, and garden pest deterrents. Each flower head  has about 50 ish seeds, so 10 saved flower heads is enough seeds to plant a fence.

Click here for more on seed starting and saving.

Hopi sunflower which yields purple, blue, grey and black dyes
Hopi amaranth, which yields pinks and reds
Solar plant dyes

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Closeup of the Bees and Buttercups Shawl. The wool is Falklands Island Merino
Fresh picked coreopsis flowers, ready for the dye vat. Coreopsis makes a variety of yellows, oranges, and reds.
Front view of Bees and Buttercups Shawl with matching hat

Merino Wool Felt Art

Click here to learn about the magical world of eco dyed wool felt art.

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Good, all natural bar soap is an essential as a whole body soap wash. It's economical, luxurious, and effective. When selecting a bar of soap, look for simple ingredients with pleasing essential oil aromas and lots of sudsy lather. Sudsing all the way down to a sliver, over 3-4 months of daily use, is key in good bar soap. Try Ithaca Soap   

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