The Dye Garden

I’m so excited – I have seedlings! They’re so fragile and green, I check on them every morning over a cup of coffee. Warmer days are finally here, and these 3 madder starter plants I got from Horizon Herbs are really taking off.

Madder seedlings (Large)

And I have a few that I started from seed just breaking though the ground!

Madder Seedling 2 (Large)

I’m a long way from growing enough of my own dyes to actually make an impact on my dyeing, but it’s fun and really rewarding to grow a few plants. I’m learning a lot and who knows? Maybe someday if I have access to enough land, I could have a dyeplant operation and grow enough to supply multiple dyers. It is incredibly difficult to get natural dyes, and they are very expensive. How cool would it be to having a dyefarm operating in the US where you could buy madder, weld, indigo, and a host of other plants….

Ok, back to the current reality. Check out my weld from last year! I seriously did not water this at all over the winter, ignored it for months as it was overtaken by marigold and coreopsis, and look at it now:

Weld2 (Large)

I cannot wait to harvest the stalks later this year! I also planted some indigo, which I think is coming up….but since I’ve never grown indigo before, I’m not entirely sure what’s a weed, what’s a volunteer, and what’s an indigo seedling. :)

My marigold seedlings are doing well, these are African marigolds. I have French in another planter.

Marigold Seedlings (Large)

And I have a few Hopi Sunflowers poking up! I love how some sunflowers are still wiggling out of their seed shells when they break the surface:

Hopi Sunflower Seedling (Large)

Apparently these make a purpley-black dye. The seeds are striking different from “normal” sunflower seeds – they’re solid black. The flower heads are big and yellow as usual, though. I have some seeds from last year that I need to test out soon! And since most of my big mundane chores are finally wrapping up (taxes and a massive post-Stitches update of the website), I think I’ll finally be getting back to pots!

I’m planning to vend at more fiber festivals this year, yay! Here’s a current list of events:

June 4th – Spinning at the Winery – Retzlaff Winery, Livermore, CA. I had a really cool conversation with Will Taylor a few days ago about the event. I hadn’t realized how strongly focused it is on local and American-made yarn, they specifically do not want to see any yarn made in China, Australia, or abroad. So I’m leaving the Global Yarn at home (yes, that does mean no superwash sock, though in other news, a superwash facility is finally coming online in the US), and bringing lots of fiber, Small Farm Yarn, and American Yarn! I’m hoping to get all of my natural-colored alpaca from the Central Coast swatched and labeled by then.

July 10th – Oakland Fiber Festival – Splash Pad Park, Oakland, CA. This will be a day of fun at the park with a bunch of vendors! There’s a Rav group here . It’s always fun to head to the big city, and exciting to have a fiber event that’s reasonably close to home. I’ll have my whole line-up of yarn there!

October 1st – CogKnitive Fiber Retreat – Tehachapi, CA. This was my first vending event last year, and I’m looking forward to celebrating an Alpenglow Anniversary with Dr. Gemma, Nathan, the Knitmore Girls, and the CogKnitive crew!

That’s all for now, though I have an application out to OFFF, so cross your fingers for me on that one! I’m also hoping to vend at the Southern California Handweavers Guild show in Torrance in November. And even though I won’t be there, some of my yarn will be at Sock Summit with the fabulous Didi of Little Red Bicycle!

I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get into Black Sheep as a vendor – 15th on the waiting list – but hopefully next year. And I’ll be going as a participant this year since I’ve never been! So it’ll be pretty darned fun anyway – road trip with friends, camping, partying with ColorBomber Velma at her Pie & Beer shindig, trying to not buy Any.More.Fiber(!!!)….good times for sure!

About alpenglowyarn

Engineer, maker of tools for yarn dyers and maker of other interesting things. I still do some natural dyeing, but not as a business. View all posts by alpenglowyarn

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