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Naturally Dyed Mule Spinner Yarns

Published April 6, 2018.
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Even if the snow refuses to melt away, spring has arrived here at the mill; the days are longer, the greenhouse good and hot, and our world is full of beautiful spring colours - our new Naturally Dyed Mule Spinner 2-Ply and 1-Ply!

If you follow along with us on social media at all then you probably know that for the last several months we've been working away at bringing a full pallet of naturally dyed yarns to our mill. This is a first step in the realization of a dream that started many, many years ago when my folks, Fen and Bill, the founders of Custom Woolen Mills, met Michele and Andro Wipplinger from Earthues Natural Dyes in Seattle. They were inspired by Michele's earth-friendly approach to natural dyes as well as the thorough colour development that she did and they wanted to move the mill in that direction. Environmentally and socially sustainable business practices are very important to us here at the mill and we dislike both the immediate consequences to our environment, where we are responsible for all of our own waste water, and the intangible third-world consequences of having to use industry standard acid dyes in our products (if you want to know a bit more about those, you can read about them here). Unfortunately, not all dreams are easy to realize; in fact, the best ones can feel almost impossible to achieve. Shifting an entire production system and product market to a much more expensive and technically nuanced process, such as natural dyeing, didn't always seem like an economically viable way to go. Small businesses have ups and downs and sweat equity can only be extended so far, which means that often what you want to do and what you can do couldn't seem further apart. But never write off a good dream because sometimes, suddenly, everything seems to line up and fall into place.

For the Custom Woolen Mills dream of naturally dyed yarns, that's had a lot to do with us meeting the exceptionally talented and all-round wonderful person Megan Samms from Live Textiles. In 2016 she joined us here at the mill for our first Fibre Artist Millstay and we all quickly bonded over our love for natural dyes, mutual respect for the long-time work of Michele and Andro Wipplinger, and our shared philosophy about textiles in the modern world. What's more, it quickly became clear that by combining Megan's expertise and knowledge of working with natural dyes and our expertise and knowledge of larger scale production, taking the first step of widely offering a line of naturally dyed colourways should be within reach!

For the last year and half Megan has been imparting us with her natural dyeing knowledge - working as a technical consultant and valued collaborator - and we couldn't be more excited to share the results with you! Available in 4 oz skeins of Mule Spinner 2-Ply, 4 x 1 oz colour collections of Mule Spinner 2-Ply, and 1 oz skeins of Mule Spinner 1-Ply, this inaugural run of Naturally Dyed Mule Spinner Yarns was created using earth-friendly natural dyestuffs such as madder root, indigo, logwood, and osage orange. You can purchase them online, in person at our mill store, or one-night-only at Stash Needle Art Lounge in Calgary on April 13th where we'll be offering a Pop-Up Party (RSVP required).

Check out some photos of the process below!

ND1 ND2 ND3 ND4 ND6 ND7 ND8 ND9ND1plyND2plyV2

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