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goat farm

Knitting Natural Living

Exploring: Natural dyeing weekend at the goat farm

November 6, 2014

Well, it only took me two months to get these photos edited and post written. Between business plan writing, grant proposal research, knitting, parenting, working and traveling, editing photos somehow finds its way to the bottom of the list. It’s always fun though to go back through and remember how amazing of a time you had somewhere, doing something, with people you love.

Labor day weekend we set out to my friend Annie’s up in Humboldt county. If you remember, we visited her and her husband at their farm for the 4th of July holiday.  It’s a little bit of a trek, but somehow we’ve adopted the road warrior status this past year with all our traveling to Washington and Idaho, so we were set. I’m not going to complain about 6hrs straight of knitting time. 🙂

Annie and I had planned for this to be a dye weekend. This was my first time venturing into the world of natural dyeing and I was ecstatic to have an experienced and equally enthusiastic friend to lead the way. David even surprised me with a natural dye book in preparation for the pending extravaganza. The evening after we arrived Annie and I sat down with a stack of books (see bottom of the post for a link to each book in our dye library) and planned what to forage for the dye pots. The next morning we prepped the yarn, tying together skeins for each color we planned and using alum we began to mordant the lot of fiber. I hadn’t realized prior to this experience how involved dyeing actually is. There are a lot of steps and patience and timeliness is important, but it is incredible the satisfaction you get from each step along the way. We then took off to forage for our dye pots. Toyon, Blackberry, Scotch broom, Indigo, Cutch and my favorite, Marigold. Well they’re all my favorites really.

We only had a few pots and burners to make the rounds so we started with the Toyon and Marigold, then moved onto the Blackberry, Indigo, Scotch broom and then Cutch. I’m sure every dyers process is slightly different, a practice that evolves over time. Mine was closely guided by Annie, who’s been dyeing for several years and still giggles and squeals each time she sees the outcome, like it’s her first. It’s completely adorable.

After the dye pots had sufficient time to cook, we began dyeing the yarn. I should note here that I am leaving out a lot of the step by step process, primarily because any knowledge you could and should gain about natural dyeing should come from an expert in person or from books like these. Temperature is a very important thing when natural dyeing, making sure the dye pots don’t go above a certain degree.

Once each dye pot had been exhausted, we rinsed the yarn and laid them to dry, with the exception of the Toyon, which we did a post dip in iron (a bucket of rusty nails and odds and ends) as an experiment. I honestly couldn’t believe the colors that had seemingly come from just some random plants around us, and a few of them even considered weeds! Of course there was forethought put into which plants were chosen, directed by both Annie’s experience and the books we consulted…but still, how incredible is nature?! I cannot wait to plant our future dye garden at our ranch.

The remainder of our time with our friends was spent visiting an Apple orchard, bbq-ing and corn on the cob, knitting and planning for Little Woolens, and taking care of more kids than you can count. Baby goats that is. 🙂 I helped Annie on a couple shifts, feeding the many, many, MANY newborn goats, it was a humorous sight I’m sure.

I feel so blessed to have such an inspiring and incredible friend like Annie. Our times on their farm are a pleasant reprieve from the city life and their company is second to none. That might have something to do with her butterball of a daughter Louella too. 🙂

Recommended Natural Dye Books

Nature’s Colors by Ida Grae

Natural Dyes, Plants and Processes by Jack Kramer

Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess

The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing by Eva Lambert

What others do you guys recommend?

cow fields

goat farm

foraging natural dye

toyon natural dye

foraging marigolds

coltrane playing

louella on the farm


mordant yarn

dye pot

fresh yarn

mordant yarn



dye pot

dye pot

dye pot



marigold natural dye

tired mama

annie and fam

apple orchard



baby goats










marigold natural dye

toyon natural dye

natural dyeing


natural dye



Exploring: A weekend on a goat farm

August 16, 2014
goat dairy farm

For the past 4 years we’ve celebrated 4th of July in the alley and on the rooftop of our apartment in Seattle, with friends and family. Our apartment was on Lake Union, with the most epic view of the fireworks at Gas Works park. 2014 is the first year we weren’t there to celebrate with them, and as with every new beginning and place, come new traditions and friends to celebrate with.

My dear friend Annie, husband and little Louella live in Northern California on the coast in Humbolt County. There they run a goat dairy and have an adorable farm house and garden. For this year’s 4th, we decided to get out of the city and drove North to spend the weekend with Annie and their tribe of goats. A weekend full of goats, gardening, bike rides, knit talk and baby hangouts, what more could one ask for?

We had planned to leave at 5am, but lets be real, who with a child ever leaves when planned?! So we finally made it out of town by 9am. 🙂 After a couple stops along the way, we made it to their place and celebrated what remained of the holiday with tasty goat meat burgers (amazing if you haven’t tried them), homemade hummus, a tasty kale salad fresh from Annie’s garden and beers. Coltrane and Louella had their own celebration of sorts, ransacking every pile of dirt they could, climbing in and out of the wheelbarrow and soaking up the afternoon’s coastal sunshine. We quickly deemed the plump duo the “chubby cheek gang”. Later in the evening we drove to where we had scouted a camping spot. This was an impromptu camping trip and with such, let’s just say it was an experience. Between the late night fireworks, campfire safety watch with a cruising toddler and interesting neighbors, David and I promised each other that the next camping trip would be off the beaten path and far better planned.

Saturday we spent the morning at the Arcata farmer’s market. Completely charming and full of tasty gluten-free, healthy and even raw food vendors. I love the small town farmer’s markets far more then one’s in the city. They’re always so full of life with local makers and growers. The rest of the afternoon we sat in Annie’s garden and talked knitting, wool dreams, aspirations and motherhood. David spent most of the day battling an epic backcountry bike ride through old logging and undiscovered trails. Annie took us on a tour of the goat farm, introducing us to all the hoofed residents, including MANY pregnant mama goats. We ended the day with another bbq, including more goat (steaks this time) and roasted veggies. An all around perfect day.

Before we left to head back to the city, we met up with Annie and Lou for breakfast at the Beachcomber Cafe, an incredible and tasty little place in Trinidad. The morning was spent watching Trane and Lou play and planning our next get together. We said our goodbyes and then stopped by the Trinidad Head Lighthouse for some amazing views and a couple final weekend memories before heading home.

We’re heading back up to visit over Labor Day and we have some pretty exciting things planned that I’ll make sure and share later on.


coltrane redwoods

coltrane and louella


breastfeeding and camping


farmers market






the goat farm