Notebook

natural dye stories
  • Texranch LACE at fibre space

    Here are all of the colors I sent to fibre space in Alexandria, VA a couple weeks back. If you're interested in getting some Texranch LACE of your own for a sweet summery shawl, just give 'em a call to see what's left and place a mail order! 703.664.0344

    Lavender is a favorite scent, color and plant of mine. (It's one of the few plants in my garden that survives all.) This skein's name may or may not be something I repeat to myself throughout some days. Sooooothing...

    Turquoise Trail is New Mexico State Rd 14, through northern NM. It's a national scenic byway through an area of the country that has always drawn me in. We eloped there!

    I love cactus blossoms and desert wildflowers. The speckles in this color way make me think of those pops of color amidst the sand. Google "Atacama desert in bloom" and you'll see one from my bucket list.

    This color brought me right back to enjoying my favorite treats in New Orleans:

    Golden, glowing... all from kitchen scraps. Natural dyeing is magical!

    Yellow blossoms on the roadside, in the pasture:

    Red dirt-ed Palo Duro canyon in the Texas panhandle is a little known gem (known to Texans, maybe). But totally worth a trip! My husband and I camped there on our way to New Mexico when we ran off to get married.

    This was a one-of-a-kind that I know a friend of mine snagged at the shop, but I will try my hand at it again. It made me think of the ancient (c. 1830's) farmhouse where we used to live in Vermont:

    New growth is good, and is always possible:

    Scattered showers (over new growth):

    "Enchanted", after the dome of pink granite in the Texas hill country known as Enchanted Rock. We camped there last year for my middle child's 8th birthday, on the night of a blue moon and a spectacular dry lightning storm. Native legends surround this landmark. It's even known to speak at night!

    Ever take the long way home just to see the sun set from the road? Or pull over to gaze at these colors in the sky? They were meant to be together:

    "Old Town" is a set of 3 mini reds that brought to mind brick sidewalks, bright red doors and the King Street Trolley from our old home in Northern Virginia:

    A darker shade of Palo Duro:

  • New yarns on the horizon

    New yarns on the horizon

    From the time I started dyeing, Blue Highway has been committed to US production, grown and milled. I do my best to make sure I can trace all wool back to the source. Backroads Worsted and Arcadian Single are both Rambouillet breed wool, grown and milled in Wyoming; Interstate Worsted is a blend of US grown fiber, milled in Michigan. These bases are all fantastic, but as I move my business forward, I will look to source even closer to home. 

    Now, I am excited to begin dyeing these two yarns you see above, which I hope can remain staples. They're grown just a few hours from me in the Texas hill country: heavy laceweight and worsted, both a blend of 48% superfine merino and 52% kid mohair. I have been invited out to visit the ranches, and plan to do so as soon as schedules allow! It's then milled up in PA, at a mill that's been in operation for over 100 years.

    I'm not sure what these bases will be called yet, but I've begun dyeing them with seasonal color ways, and I'm in love.

    Onion skins and fall marigold:

    Golden rod from my parent's place out in East Texas:

    And that brings me to introduce a bit of my color plan, going forward. Seasonal color ways like those pictured above are grown and/or harvested by me or my family -- they will be labeled as "seasonal" and I would encourage orders of them to include all that is needed for a project. Repeatable color ways will be formulated using natural dye extracts -- I order those from Botanical Colors, and Earthues, sourced sustainably from the world at large. Once the reapeatable colors are listed, if you do not see enough for a project you have in mind, please get in touch so that I can see about dying up a batch just for you. 

    Keep an eye on the Etsy store. I hope to have these yarns out for sale within the month, then to set up a regular Etsy update day each month.

    Happy Fall!

    :) Sarah

  • Coming soon!

    Coming soon!

    Castilleja will be a free pattern, available soon here and on Ravelry as a PDF. It's an adjustable-size, worsted weight cowl. Pictured above is the small one (now finished) I knit up for my youngest, Bea. She's a pistol. And she quickly claimed this color for her own because orange is her FAVORITE.

    This is the first color I'm ready to show off, and the first I'm determined to repeat and keep in the final line-up. I wouldn't exactly call it orange, but I wouldn't exactly argue with a four-and-a-half year old if I didn't have to, either. It's the result of two dips in the dyepot; the first containing osage orange...

    The osage orange tree is related to the American mulberry and is named after the Osage indians of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. It was often planted to stem wheat field erosion in these states and others, but it's now somewhat overgrown and considered a nuissance by many landowners. I get my osage in liquid form from Earthues, whose supplier creates this colorant using downed trees and solor-powered technology. However, wood chips and/or sawdust will also create a potent yellow dyebath.

    Back to the cowl: Castilleja is the genus name for one of my favorite wildflowers, Indian paintbrush, a.k.a. prairie fire. To me, the elongated running-dash stitch pattern resembles the long, tall yellow & red wildflowers or tongues of flame. Maybe both.