Making Podcast Woolful Podcast

Episode 58: Rachel Bingham Kessler: Plants, Ireland, Natural Dyeing and Motherhood

May 19, 2016


Sponsor: Sunday Knits has quickly become one of my new favorite yarns to knit with. Started in 2008 by Carol Sunday, Sunday Knits is a collection of 4 merino and merino blend yarns and beautiful patterns designed by Carol. 100% extra-fine Australian merino to the French Angora, all their fibers are humanely sourced and then milled in Italy to Carol’s meticulous and caring specifications. Aside from this yarns obvious qualities, they’re a dream to knit with…so soft yet sturdy and the breadth of colors are beautiful and perfect for color work…I have yet to move beyond swatching, as there are so many great uses for this wholesome yarn. And if you enjoy knitting vests, make sure to take a look at Carol’s latest pattern, the Nancy Vest, a little warmth and a lot of style makes this classic best a wardrobe staple, and an enjoyable knit, in any of Sunday Knits’ 3-ply yarns. Visit Sunday Knits at or if you can make a trip to Roscoe, Illinois near the Wisconsin state line, make an appointment to visit the gorgeous Sunday Knits studio. You can follow on Instagram @carolsundayknits


Fiber folk: Just a few miles from Portland Maine and a short ferry ride away is Peaks Island. Here is where natural dyer, fiber artist and mother Rachel Bingham Kessler makes her home and business and explores the intricacies of natures relationship in dyeing and spinning. Rachel shares her journey with such love and thoughtfulness, and I hope you enjoy learning more about this Maine fiber maven as much as I have. You can find Rachel at and at her Etsy shop, 44 Clovers. And follow Rachel on Instagram @44clovers.



Sponsor: Portfiber, a wonderful shop in Portland, Maine, specializing in one of a kind, hand-dyed fiber and yarn. Casey has curated an incredible collection of spinning fiber including yak, Chiri, Alpaca, Polwarth and hand-dyed blends. Portfiber offers something very special to the Portland community, helping foster the fiber arts through various classes and events and encouraging the connection between maker and medium. Make sure to visit Portfiber’s shop where you can be a part of their Maine Fiber Club each month, where you study a particular Maine sheep breed with Portfiber each month. This is the perfect way to become familiar with a variety of wools without having to commit to a large fleece. You can find the monthly wools as washed locks or batts, great for any spinner. Visit Portfiber in person when in Portland Maine and shop online and find a list of classes at Follow along on Instagram @portfiber.


In Residence: I’m excited to share a new weekly addition to the Woolful podcast, In Residence. Each quarter we’ll be joined by a farmer, designer, entrepreneur and artist in residence…discussing topics and questions asked by you the listeners. In Residence features the best of the best in business, farming, knitwear design and fiber arts and this is your opportunity to ask and learn from these incredible folks. 

This Summer quarter we welcome Entrepreneur in residence Veronika Jobe of YOTH, Farmer in residence Tamara White of Wing and a Prayer Farm, Photographer in residence Kathy Cadigan and Designer in residence Mary Jane Mucklestone. 

So now it’s up to you, these wonderful women are ready to answer your questions and discuss your areas of interest. Do you have a question or topic regarding farming, knitwear design, fiber business or photography that you’ve always wanted to know more about? Email them to and beginning in June, tune in to hear their answers. 


Giveaway: The winner of last weeks giveaway is Sophie Bertolotti, you’ve won the Vintergronn knit kit from Spincycle and the knitter tools set from Fuzzy Goat.  Congratulations!

The giveaway this week is sponsored by Sunday Knits and they’re giving away a project kit for their newest released pattern the Nancy Vest, which includes the pattern and yarn to knit the vest. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post. 


Music by Jónsi.

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  • Reply Lauren Venegas May 19, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Ooooh id love to win the vest kit!

  • Reply Morgan May 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve downloaded the episode and can’t wait to listen tomorrow morning on the subway while I knit! 🙂

  • Reply Amber May 19, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Ooh yes please!

  • Reply Erin May 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Oo, pretty exciting developments!

  • Reply Julia May 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Ashley, this residency thing is such a fantastic idea. You go, girl!
    Blessings to you and all of your family.


  • Reply Jeannie May 19, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I really enjoy your podcasts and am looking forward to your new endeavors.

  • Reply Lori May 19, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    So much goodness! I’m so excited for the new residency idea! (Hi friends!! xxx) and OH BOY would I love to knit this vest with Carols beautiful pattern and yarn!!
    (Time for the podcast 🙂

  • Reply Isabel McKay May 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I loved this podcast. What an inspiring story!!! Thank you. And yeah!!!! The residency thing is a wonderful idea.

  • Reply Arianne May 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I would love to win!

  • Reply Lori May 19, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    It was so nice to ‘meet’ you Rachel, and so much fun listening to your wonderful journey. I am looking forward to knitting with some of your wool someday. And now I want to visit Peaks Island too! Thank you Ashley and Rachel!

  • Reply Steph Nappa May 19, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    I just have to chuckle at every fiber dyer who says they “weren’t good at science” because in actuality their work is entirely chemistry! Rachel sounds like she would be the perfect scientist. Her curiosity and desire to experiment and discover are the best traits to have! Her yarns look absolutely lovely, and it was great to hear about her process. One more yarn brand that I need to add to the long list I want to try after listening to this podcast!

    • Reply rachel bingham May 20, 2016 at 6:44 am

      Thank you so much Steph! I certainly have an interest in chemistry now:)

  • Reply Gerri Lesley May 20, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Wonderful podcast as always! So enjoyed learning about another Maine fiber artist! My daughter lives in Maine and I am so excited to think I might possibly visit Portfiber in the future!!!! Can’t wait to hear from your new contributors to the podcast!

    • Reply Casey Ryder May 20, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Oh yes! Please come visit. I’d love to meet you and your daughter 🙂 This podcast connects so many people!

  • Reply Suzi May 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I love the vest pattern!

  • Reply Nerissa May 20, 2016 at 6:37 am

    I love spincycle. It’s great to hear their voices.

  • Reply stephanie young May 20, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Great episode….I really feel as if I know Rachel! That vest is so perfect in its simplicity….and my favorite color! (isn’t everyone’s favorite color grey?!?)

  • Reply Anne May 20, 2016 at 7:55 am

    I would love to make this vest!

  • Reply Kathy H May 20, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I love this vest design and how the button bands look!

  • Reply julie sall May 20, 2016 at 8:17 am

    just found your podcast and am loving it. thanks for your hard work

  • Reply Margaret May 20, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Very interesting episode. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of so many wonderful women who just went for it!

  • Reply kezia Tenenbaum May 20, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I love how many wonderful fiber people live in Maine! And I’m loving these podcasts, thank you!

  • Reply Amber May 20, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Okay. That VEST! I can see wearing that with everything/anything. Love it!! I think I even already have the perfect buttons for it…

  • Reply Casey Ryder May 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Though I am happy to call Rachel my friend and know of her fiber journey, it was so lovely to listen to her interview. I admire the fact that she knew at such a young age that she was going to be an artist. Thanks for spreading the joy of wooly goodness!

  • Reply Rain May 20, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Beautiful vest! Thank you for another awesome giveaway and congrats on your new residency program! Can’t wait!!

  • Reply Yasmin May 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Beautiful episode! I’m not sure exactly why but this one in particular was so relaxing and inspiring to listen to (more than usual since they all are:-)

  • Reply Maria Bennett May 20, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Another great podcast and this one was especially close to my heart, having visited Portfiber last year and meeting Casey! What an interesting fiber store and Casey was so wonderfully helpful. The skeins of gray Cormo my friends and I purchased on our visit, remains one of my favorites. So happy Rachael’s journey has been so exciting and freeing for her! Thanks again!

  • Reply Stephanie Shoemaker May 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    One of my most fav podcasts yet! Thanks so very much and the photos are to die for….

  • Reply Elaine Vandiver May 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Another awesome episode!

  • Reply Marian May 20, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Absolutely love Woolful. Thank you Ashley for introducing me to all these wonderful Woolfolk that I might never meet otherwise. Also have fallen in love with the Nancy Vest. It is so my favourite style of knit. Something that can be worn while curled up in my knitting chair of with the addition of a little bling out on the town.

  • Reply Carla May 20, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Another great podcast- when I hear the music at the beginning my shoulders relax-
    Love the vest pattern and yarn as well and would be oh so willing to win!

  • Reply Brittany May 20, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    This was such an interesting episode!

  • Reply Hd May 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Lichen! Love it! Thanks for such an interesting episode!

  • Reply Kim strand May 20, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    That vest!! Love everything about it Perfect!!!

  • Reply HeiM May 20, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Love this vest!
    Thanks for the episode.

  • Reply Dee May 20, 2016 at 11:31 pm


  • Reply Doreen MacL May 21, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Another interesting guest, gteat to hear from fibre folk who are following their bliss. Love the vest too, thanks for the chance. (I have it favourited in Ravelry)

  • Reply Karen Glotzbach May 21, 2016 at 7:16 am

    That was absolutely heavenly to sit and knit while listening to this episode – what an inspirational story about a guest who followed her heart. And thank you for reminding me that I need to put Carol Sunday’s new vest pattern into my ever expanding queue!

  • Reply Lulu May 21, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I love this pattern. Thank you for always showing so many beautiful pictures of yarn. Very inspiring.

  • Reply asteride May 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Me too, I love when I’m surrounded by fabric and yarn!

  • Reply Lesley May 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I haven’t had the time 🙁 to listen to podcasts lately. But I will definitely find the time for this one. PLUS I really love Carol Sunday’s vest. I know it would suit me and I can’t say that about many things.

  • Reply Gina May 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Love that vest

  • Reply Zsuzsa May 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    This was another fabulous episode! And how I’d love to win that vest pattern and the yarn for it! 🙂

  • Reply Julia May 21, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Wonderful episode!

  • Reply Vivette Elfawal May 22, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I think you have one of the best fiber podcast out there! I love listening every week.

  • Reply Julia Azari May 22, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Great episode! Loving the colors of this beautiful yarn in those photos!

  • Reply Leslie May 22, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I love learning from these wonderful fiber artists. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  • Reply Sindy P May 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Another lovely interview, listening while I am knitting !

  • Reply Judy May 22, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I love the Nancy vest. Thanks for the opportunity and thanks for another great podcast. Looking forward to your new “in residence” program, too.

  • Reply Ellen May 22, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I really enjoyed your story Rachel….very inspiring. I think that I will go spin some fiber now!

  • Reply Julie May 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I’m so much looking forward to listening to this episode – and in the meantime I am loving the look of the vest pattern!

  • Reply Ruby May 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    What a great episode. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply Dominique May 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Maybe this will be my lucky day??!

  • Reply Ramona May 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Another wonderful episode! Thank you.

  • Reply Kristina May 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Always wonderful to hear ow fiber intersects with different moments of our lives!

  • Reply Shelley May 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Can’t wait to listen to this (and every) episode. Carol Sunday is one of my favorite designers, her yarn and patterns are on my wish list.

  • Reply Annette May 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Another great podcast, thanks! Love the vest!

  • Reply Kristina J. May 23, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Another inspiring episode! Thank you as always.

  • Reply lisa May 23, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Wonderful! And the vest is perfect!

  • Reply Johanna Giesbrecht May 23, 2016 at 8:47 am

    What a beautiful portrait of the slow, natural rhythm of a fiber from sheep to yarn.
    Even when it answers the desire in your heart it can be so easy to question a decision. Kudos to you in your bravery in taking on something when others are shaking their heads at you.

  • Reply Terri May 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Ohhh, I’m within driving distance of Sunday Knits but haven’t made the plunge to buy any of her yarn… would love to win this kit!

  • Reply Elaine May 23, 2016 at 11:12 am

    The Vest pattern is great!! I’m in the Midwest and it would be a great accessory for most of the year.

  • Reply Megan May 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    So inspiring! Loved hearing Rachel’s story.

  • Reply LauraP May 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Loved this episode. I have really enjoyed all the women who you interview and how they follow their hearts.

  • Reply Thekla May 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    What an enjoyable episode. I, too, am interested in plant dyes and found your guest very interesting. Thank you.

  • Reply Debbie May 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    This vest is so beautiful! Thank you for another lovely episode!

  • Reply Robin May 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I love every podcast! Such inspiration

  • Reply Julia May 23, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    A very adventurous life, I’d love to be so industrious. Thanks!

  • Reply Brooke Parkhurst May 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

    I really enjoyed this episode! It made me miss my spinning and dying days – just a knitter now – and also Maine. Thanks for the god vibes!

  • Reply Caileigh May 24, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I’m so excited for this episode!! Thank you!!

  • Reply Tracie M. May 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    No idea if my limited knitting skill can make a vest, but I would love to try!

  • Reply Kim May 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I am very much enjoying this podcast, I listen to it little by little more n those rare alone moments:).

  • Reply dorinalouise May 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    So great to listen to. My favorite part was hearing about the orange lichen on the rocks!

  • Reply Elizabeth May 24, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    A great story of self discovery, I really enjoyed listening to this episode. Congratulations on following your heart.

  • Reply Linda May 25, 2016 at 4:15 am

    You helped me remember how I used to love to get my mother’s friend’s scraps from her sewing when I was a kid. She had the best fabrics. I used to make Barbie clothes.

  • Reply Gigi Wansor May 25, 2016 at 6:17 am

    What an inspiring story! Another great podcast! Thank you.

  • Reply Lori May 25, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for the great podcast. It was great to be taken away to the life a spinner and dyer.

  • Reply Meagan Radford May 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Great story, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Susan May 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    This episode really resonated with me. As a museum educator and someone who has recently started teaching natural dye classes at a local maker space, I’m well aware that there are many paths to teaching others (particularly one’s passions) outside of a formal classroom setting.

  • Reply Lisa May 25, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Wonderful podcast. I loved hearing how Rachel slowly came to her fibre calling!

  • Reply Carol Perecman May 25, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    A lovely episode, as usual. Thanks for this giveaway; I love Carol’s yarn, and hope to make the vest, win or not!

    I enjoy your podcasts so much. Lovely to hear all these people who are living their dream–and you, as well.


  • Reply Cynthia May 25, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Always enjoy listening to the various podcasts while I knit. Maine is one of my favorite places. Nancy’s Vest is lovely!

  • Reply Tina L. May 26, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Another wonderfully engaging and informative episode. Thank you. And, ooooh, the Nancy vest looks like the perfect summer project.

  • Reply Susan May 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Another inspiring listen. Thank you! Love the vest!

  • Reply Cathy B May 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    The vest is so beautiful: classic good looks.

  • Reply Karen Crook May 26, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    The first frost here in Bendigo. I need that vest!

  • Reply Jane S May 26, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the stories. Beautiful vest

  • Reply Savannagal May 27, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I love the simplicity of the vest. It is lovely and would go with anything.

  • Reply Laurel Gervitz May 28, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Such a beautiful vest!

  • Reply Caitlyn May 28, 2016 at 6:27 am

    cute vest! Thanks!

  • Reply Janet May 29, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Carol Sunday makes the most beautiful yarn, and it wears beautifully. Thank you for the episode – looking forward to the new in-residence experts.

  • Reply SusanR May 30, 2016 at 7:30 am

    First time listening to this podcast- love hearing Rachel’s story . How could I not have listened until now? Looking forward to going listening to past episodes. Hoping I’m not too late for Carol Sunday vest.

  • Reply Mathurine May 30, 2016 at 7:52 am

    What a peaceful episod! Earing sea and smelling plants ! Thanks too you both .

  • Reply Sally May 30, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Loved listening to the podcast episode! Thank you.
    The vest kit giveaway looks awesome!

  • Reply Jessica May 30, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    What a great episode! I’m sure those skeins that soaked in the dye for a week must have been very special 🙂

  • Reply Heather g June 2, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Wonderful and inspiring as always!

  • Reply Erin Worrall June 2, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Just found your podcast and I am OBSESSED. It’s amazing how listening to the lives of other fiber folk inspires me to push into my own passions, even if their specialty is different than my own.

  • Reply Danja June 2, 2016 at 8:30 am

    What a wonderful episode! It was very interesting to hear Rachel’s story and I especially liked the bit about the ‘normal’ job. Thank you so much for doing this podcast!

  • Reply Katy June 13, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Gorgeous as always

  • Reply rachel bingham August 31, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Thank you all so much for listening and for your support!
    ox, rachel aka 44clovers

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