Chemical dyes were not used until 1856. Prior to that, natural dyes were used and played a large role in the cultural significance of colour; fabrics dyed from hard to obtain colours, such as red, were reserved for royalty, while more common yellows, tans, and greys were allowed to be worn by anyone. Black sheep were important for their unique wool, but were also unusual because a black sheep is a genetic throw-back. Baa Baa Black Sheep was something to sing about; on the other hand, being the "black sheep of the family" was a mixed blessing!


At Custom Woolen Mills we still use natural greys and blacks in our craft wools and yarns. In addition, we dye wool using chemical dyes and some natural dyes to produce over 25 different colours. We do our dyeing in an old, double-walled milk tank that has been converted to have steam run through it rather than refrigeration. We dye our wool "in the loose", prior to carding or spinning, in batches of 100lbs at a time. 


When time permits, we also do some hand-dyeing, fibre painting, and eco-printing for our online wool shop and brick and mortar retail store out here at the mill.