On an unseasonably mild mid-January morning, Landis Garden Club members gathered at the Farmhouse to meet with some local fiber artists to discuss the art of making dyes from plants for handspun wool.
Laurel Shaver and Maya Gaasche, from Thorn Apple Acres in Fort Plain, and Cece Tkaczyk, from CeCe’s Wool and Farm Store in Esperance, showed us multiple samples of colors created from local backyard grown plants. The women explained how wool from their own animals is spun to create high quality, backyard-grown natural fiber. These fibers can then be used to create clothing, hats, gloves, blankets, bags — or whatever the heart and mind desires.
Laurel and her daughter Maya have enjoyed experimenting with different plants over the years to produce beautiful natural colors. A bright yellow with flecks of green can be created from Queen Anne’s Lace, a common “weed.” Jewelweed can be used to produce unique blends of orange. We have samples of olive green from mullein and a gorgeous green-brown from black-eyed Susans. Other native plants that can be used to make fiber dye include black walnut, goldenrod, crabapple leaves, sumac, oak leaves and acorns.
Laurel and Maya will be at Landis during the Spring Plant Sale, May 19 – 20, with wool samples, and will be happy to answer questions about fibers and natural dyes. On Saturday, they will lead a walking tour to identify plants that can be used for dyeing. They will also return on July 14th, to lead a class on the full dyeing process. The Landis Garden Club plans to scout for plants that can be used for the class and to label them for educational purposes.
Later this year, CeCe’s store will be offering a hat kit — called “The Landis” — that utilizes some of these locally dyed colors. You can be sure that brown wool created from our oaks will be in there!
The Landis Garden Club plans another busy year for gardeners and garden fanciers. For information about Club events, consult the event calendar at the Landis website (landisarboretum.org).