At the end of July, I was fortunate enough to be invited
to Gilead Goats Farm. Gilead is owned by Kristen Judkins, who won a small flock of angora goats (produce mohair fiber) in a contest a few years ago. She also has Shetland ewes and a Finn ram. And Lorenzo the llama. (Not to mention Flan the dog, Fred & Ginger the cats and the calf) Kristen is an amazing woman, who has a day job, and has kept her herd of goats and fiber animals growing despite harsh Vermont winters, hurricane devastation that washed out her road, infestations of parasites her former vet (good reason he is the former vet) refused to acknowledge lived in Vermont, etc. She has done it pretty much alone and with the support, friendship, love and encouragement of an amazing following of fiber friends and anonymous benefactors. It was some of these amazing fiber friends who were in this test run batch of students dabbling in dyeing at Gilead last month.
Kristen got us going with acid dyes, plant dyes and an Indigo bath. In the acid dyes, we did kettle dyeing, crockpot dyeing and handpainted Saran wrap steamed package dyeing. We even did some Indigo dyeing over plant dyes. Amongst the plant dyes, we used jewel weed, Goldenrod, Black eyed Susan, and even mushrooms (thank you, Lisa St. Hilaire of knitnzu).
I went into this excited to have this rare chance to get acquainted with yet another fiber black hole. At the same time, I had no confidence in my ability to put colors together. And I have to confess I went in with a few preconceived notions (which hopefully I've ditched now). I didn't think I was going to like plant dyes. I liked the idea of natural dyes, but not too crazy about yellows, oranges and browns, so I didn't think it was going to be for me. And then Kristen said the magic sentence : "you could overdye with Indigo." And overdye with Indigo I did. Several different greens were the result.
The attendees were: Kristen (hostess extraordinaire), her mother & one of my best fiber buddies Laila, Lisa of Knitnzu, Julie of Stoneview, Krysta, Toby MacNutt of Gizmometer, Jim & Debbie. We had representation from Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont I believe.
As a consequence of this dyeing weekend, not only do I have almost three pounds of lovely handdyed fiber and yarn, but I see dye plants each time I drive down the road, and am seeing colorways start to appear out of no where. And a dyer's garden is taking form in my brain, with research on the Internet and saved pages, to actually take physical form this coming spring at my place. And there are plans for a PVC pipe hoop greenhouse to get an early start on the dye plants that like a longer growing season than I normally get up here in Maine (my daughter keeps reminding me I drive DOWN to Vermont when I go to Gilead Farm).