Upcoming Dye Workshop with Wildcraft Studio School

We are excited to be hosting a summer dye workshop at our farm here on Bainbridge Island!
 This time we are partnering up with Wildcraft Studio School, a creative center based in White Salmon, Washington.

When: August 15, 2015, 10am- 4pm

Where: Our dye farm on Bainbridge Island, Washington

Tuition: $140 + $20 materials fee OR save 20% when two people register together

Sign up HERE on the Wildcraft Studio School website!

Class description:

Come learn the basics of natural dyeing with Local Color Fiber Studio! We will give you an introduction to the process of using plant based dyes on protein fibers, such as wool and silk. We will begin the day harvesting a variety of dye material from our dye plant field and then we will spend the afternoon dyeing up our harvests! We will also discuss strategies for implementing your own dye garden. You will have the opportunity to dye and take home your own yarn and silk scarf.

More about Wildcraft Studio School:

Wildcraft Studio School is a creative center offering workshops in traditional skills, studio arts, plant medicine, and sustainable practices. Through this integrated curriculum, we hope to dissolve the divisions that exist between art and everyday life.

Finnsheep Angora Yarn is Here!

We are excited to announce that yarn from our whole flock is here! This yarn was custom milled at Yampa Valley Fiberworks in Craig, Colorado. The resulting yarn is a 2 ply sport weight, 85% Finnsheep wool, 15% German Angora. Each skein is 200 yards.

Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace sheep are related to the more commonly known Shetland or Icelandic sheep, with short tails, colorful fleeces, and very friendly personalities! Their wool is generally classified as a medium wool, although we breed for finer fleeces. The wool has a somewhat silky hand, a bit of a natural sheen, and is available in a range of colors, from white, black, brown, and anything in between. This is truly a great all purpose wool, soft enough for next to skin wear, but sturdy enough to hold up to everyday farm wear.

German Angora rabbits got us into fiber farming. These sweet and docile rabbits enjoy a steady diet of local hay, pellets, and kale leaves, all while producing 3-4 inches of luxuriously soft fiber every 3 months. German Angoras were bred for fiber production and receive a hair cut every 90 days to humanely and gently harvest their wool. No rabbits are ever harmed! The predominate color genetics available in the US is the REW, or Ruby Eyed White, but we also have our resident Chestnut Agouti buck Steamroller to provide a beautiful light gray.

The angora provides softness and a great halo to your finished object. The blending of white, black, gray, and fawn fleeces give a great slightly tweedy look. There is a bit of vegetable matter in the yarn, a reminder that these animals romp around in diverse species pastures and that the processor does not use harsh chemicals in making this yarn.

After some Ravelry hunting, here are some patterns that could work with one skein of this Finn/Angora yarn.


From left to right:

Stax by Carina Spencer. The lace pattern would work well in this yarn and one skein will make the beanie version.

Leaving Cowl by Maria Magnusson. This short cowl with a simple leaf lace pattern would be so cozy!

Antiquity by Alicia Plummer. The yarn will hold up well to moderate wear and show off this delicate lace stitch.

Elis by Reiko Kuwamura. Another short cowl with Indian Cross Stitch patterning that would work great with the angora halo of the yarn.

If you happen to get two skeins of this yarn, even more pattern choices open up!

Elk Tooth by Caitlin Ffrench. A simple shawlette that would be easy to upsize a bit to use more of the yarn.

Starshower by Hilary Smith Callis. A shawl-cowl hybrid is easy to style and could be worn down over the shoulders. The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, but looks to be easy to adjust the numbers to work with this light sport weight. 

Shaelyn by Leila Raab. A top down triangle shawl with lace repeats.

Natural Dye Workshop

Indigo Pot

Indigo Pot

We are excited to partner with Cedar Root Folk School on the Olympic Peninsula this spring to offer a Natural Dye Workshop. Come join us! The workshop will take place on March 7, 2015 from 9am-2pm on Marrowstone Island, Norland, Washington. Afterwards, take a hike at historic Fort Flagler or pay a visit to Bazaar Girls one of our favorite local yarn stores.

Birch leaf Dye

Birch leaf Dye

We will give you an introduction to the process of using plant based dyes on protein fibers, such as wool and silk.  Together we will also take a short walk to identify and gather dye materials readily available in our area and discuss strategies for implementing your own dye garden.  You will have the opportunity to dye and take home your own yarn and silk scarf!

About Cedar Root Folk School

Cedar Root Folk School was founded to help the transfer of rural skills from one community member to another. CedarRoot places a high value on craftsmanship in manual skills and inter-generational mentoring.  We gather together those in our community with rural wisdom and assist them in transferring that wisdom through teaching "hand to hand".


Upcoming Events April 2014


We are pleased to announce events that we will be attending this month! Beginning this Saturday April 12, we will be at the Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market outside of Town Hall in downtown Winslow from 9am-1pm! This is our regular spot and we will be a part of the market every Saturday all season until December. Come see by and see us for lots of yarn, some new shop samples, and freshly shorn Finnsheep fleeces and roving! And maybe even some 2014 lambing and kindling updates! This Farmers' Market is the home to lots of great local producers, including Laughing Crow Farm, Bainbridge Vineyards, Butler Green Farm, Persephone Farm, and food vendors like the PsycheDeli!

Also Saturday April 12, we will be at the Community Marketplace at the Strung Along Retreat at the Resort at Port Ludlow from 6.30pm-8.30pm. We were able to be a part of the Strung Along Retreat last November and are excited to be here again this spring! This marketplace is free and open to the public and expect to see yarn, locally grown fibers, locally carded roving and batts, handmade project bags, and more!

Winter Dyeing- Dying for Spring


With no Saturday market to prepare for each week, our dye activity experienced a bit of a (well deserved) lull in the months of December and January. But we made up for our relative inactivity in February and March which saw a frenzy of thrift store sweater-recycling, mordanting and dyeing of left over yarn and dye-stuff.  

Native plants offer just a sliver of the color range available in the spring and summer. But a few young shoots braved late-winter soil to flaunt their soft spiny leaves: namely, Stinging Nettles. We found swaths of them carpeting portions of our new dye garden (before we tilled it) and just couldn't let such an abundance go to waste. Emily and I harvested a few pounds worth, simmered them down into an earthy and green smelling tea and supplemented a bit of iron to dye our wool a lovely sage green.

20140308_155544 Nettle shoots are rather tender so we only simmered them 20-30 minutes (after that they seem to turn into green sludge which is hard to strain out).

20140307_142459Next we immersed wet, pre-mordanted wool in the nettle tea and let it simmer slowly for about an hour. We found that without iron, the nettles dyed an unremarkable brownish yellow with a whisper of green (generally not an attractive combination). However with a glug of iron solution, the tea developed into a rich, if slightly dulled green. Many dye-books document iron's effect on a natural dye as "saddening" a color- often yielding lovely results.

Aside from helping us use up our Nettle spoils, our stove has been busy simmering dye plants we were able to preserve from the summer and fall:



-dried Marigold and Coreopsis flowers


- frozen and dry Salal berries (the dry berries offer only a cool light-to-medium grey)


- ammonia soaked lichen: Usnea (featured above) is just one of many which were historically used as dye plants.


- onion skins courtesy of Laughing Crow Farm's bounty


- frozen Dunkelfelder grapes (left over from Bainbridge Vineyard's Rose wine)

The option of preserving our summer crop of dye plants makes this fiber and dye business a wonderful asset to Emily as a farmer and shepherd. Emily works 12 hour a days most days a week April through September. But November, December and January feel startlingly calm in comparison. With all of our dry and frozen vegetation, we could (theoretically) be busy all year round! If this summer's dye garden doesn't fail miserably, we will have a dramatically larger and more diverse crop of color to occupy us for the coming year. Not to mention all the local volunteers that send up their shoots around now... Equisetum or Horsetail is just one of the many spring shoots I'm looking forward to cooking up! More about that in the coming month.

ps. the plant drawings above are featured as little tags on each skein of yarn we dye- elucidating the source of the color with which you're working. :)


Angora Shearing: Deleted Scenes


Just came across all these Jems- Thought the bunny lovers out there might appreciate Steam Roller on his Shearing Tower. Surprisingly, given his otherwise outgoing personality, he's much more afraid of jumping than Affability. The Tower has proven immensely useful.


We decided it was time for their first-ever bath! The bunnies bravely tolerated it and the blow-drying that followed.


Sorry about the blur, but the bundled bunnies are just too cute to handle!



Let's hope this spring will bring angora bunnies from this quirky couple!

Angora Shearing

affabilityLast week, the rabbits got their seasonal haircut! Both Affability (the white doe, above) and Steamroller (a chesnut agouti buck, below) are German Angora Rabbits and need haircuts every 90 days.In general there are three types of angora rabbits: the English, French, and German. English and French angoras are generally plucked (combed) to harvest their fiber, but Germans must be sheared.shearingsteamrollerIt takes me about a morning to shear each rabbit. Angoras are very efficient wool producers! These rabbits easily produce over a pound of prime wool each year, quite a feat for a rabbit! In addition, the wool is wonderfully soft and warm; even a laceweight angora cowl will keep you toasty warm! Germans also have a friendly temperament and are easy to handle. They are generally easy to groom and care for and make wonderful fiber companions for those without room for the larger fiber creatures.

angora bagsSo far, I have had the angora blended by Taylored Fibers with our Finnsheep fleeces to create lovely rovings and batts (which will be for sale online soon!)

We also have some straight angora for sale (see above). We may also stockpile a couple of shearing worth of fiber and send it to a mill to be spun into yarn! We plan on mating Steamroller and Affability this spring and hope to have some baby rabbits soon.

Some more info on German Angoras can be found on the IAGARB (International Association of German Angora Rabbit Breeders) website here.

Dye Garden: In the Making


After a day of blackberry removal. Besides caring for our wooly friends, the Finns, this past month has been pretty quiet. The Winter Farmer's Market on Bainbridge ended just before the holidays and our evenings are no longer filled with the smells of wet yarn and simmering flowers.

But our month's respite flew by and it's now February. All those plans we laid out for the coming year are feeling more and more real as seeds begin arriving in the mail. Just the sight of all those promising little paper packets spread across the floor is enough to drive me outside with a frenzied desire to plant something, see it grow and harvest it all at once.

First things first though...


We filled at least 5 of these with brambles!

For the past few weeks, Emily and I have been channeling our pent up energy into cutting and pulling blackberry, wrenching out alder saplings and plucking up the previous season's nettle canes. Beneath all those unwelcome squatters, we've found some lovely soil, soon to be tilled and planted with this year's color. Emily turned farmer a few years ago so she's got a few seasons under her belt while much of this is fairly new to me. Hence I felt the need to document Emily's valiant tree extraction efforts via the Weed Wrench. Hope the magnitude of our clearing efforts comes across through this series of photos!


20140116_135158 20140116_135149 20140116_135156

Next steps:

tilling and installing deer fencing.

our field with a haircut

Winter Sheep


IMG_3983Our flock of Finnsheep are doing well this winter! We have a small flock of 9 Finns and one llama protector. Finnsheep, or Finnish Landrace, are a breed of sheep from the European Short Tail Sheep family. They are most notable for their high lambing numbers; we expect each ewe to have between two and five lambs this spring! Finnsheep fleeces come in white, black, piebald (white and black spotted), gray, brown, and fawn. The breed in general have a friendly disposition and great adaptability. Our sheep love Scotch broom and blackberries nearly as much as pasture! IMG_3943Finnsheep wool is a wonderful all purpose wool! It is a medium wool, ranging from 19-30 microns and 3-6 inch staple length. Finn blends well with other fibers, especially our angora, and takes dye well. Felters like working with Finn because it felts well and creates a drapey and silky fabric.

IMG_3931We expect our first lambs around the middle of April and are so excited! Updates to come!