Welcome to Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn, your source for irresistible naturally-dyed yarn. I'm Barb Kish, and Spencer Hill is not only my company, but my beautiful almost-in-the-woods neighborhood in Corning, NY.
I knit. I spin. I weave, embroider, and sew. I was lucky to grow up in a family that not only enjoys handwork, but has a deep respect for the time and effort that goes into it. I was taught that the end product is only as good as what you put into it-from your own effort to the materials you choose. I can still picture my grandma turning my work over to see if the "wrong" side was as tidy as the "right."
I first experienced natural dyeing in particular while observing a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina (you should check it out if you like traditional craftwork). It was an indigo vat, and it was magic. I had to know how to do it myself, so I bought a kit for beginners, and never looked back.
All that looking also took me to the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont, where I've learned pretty much anything else I know about natural dyeing from Kate Smith (well, plus a book or two). It's an amazing place; want to learn about 18th and 19th century weaving, on equipment of the time? Go there.
Also, I'm something of an iconoclast-I want to do what other people aren't. So the less-labor-intensive (no judgement, it just is) process of acid dyeing has never interested me. Natural dyes rarely produce exactly the same result twice, even when using a recipe for extracts. I'm also attracted to the connection to the past natural dyes provide. Contemporary dyeing wasn't around until the late 1800s, but colored cloth? Just a little longer. For example, weld, or dyer's broom has been found on cloth from ancient Egypt.
And because I'm a pragmatic iconoclast, I'll offer one more thought: your time is precious. Don't waste it on ugly yarn. I hope you enjoy what you find at Spencer Hill!