Hand Dyed Yarn With Natural Colors

Read The

Farm Newsletter

Follow Our Yarn Colors

Follow CatskillMerino on Twitter

Blog Categories/Tags
1/2 & 1/2
17.4 Cochineal
3rd Party Certification
Adam Gopnik
Albert King
Ansel Adams
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antonius Cetosus. Lions
Art Criticism
Art Knowledge News
Ass's Shadow
Basic Lamb Recipes
Beethoven Op. 130
Big Food
Big Yarn
Bill of Rights
Black & Blue
Breeding Stock
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Catskill Merino Hat
Cecil Beaton
Cesare Pavese
Charles James
Chunky Yarn
Citric Dyes
Clara Parkes
Cleanth Brooks
Coco Chanel
Complementary Protein
Cooking Lamb
Coup de Grace
Cous Cous
David Foster Wallace
Discount Code
Early Lambs 2014
Eartag 36
Eating Policy
Edward Hopper
Electric Fence
End of Poverty
Ewe 159
Experimental Dyeing
Factory Farm
Famous Knitters
Farm Help
Farm Stand
Florence Fabricant
Food Deserts
Food Flock
Food Politics
Food Swamps
Forest Fire
Frances Middendorf
Francesco Mastalia
Frank O'Hara
Fred Kaplan
Garlic 2013-14
Garlic Cultivation
Garlic Scapes
Gary Lutz
Genesis Deflowered
George Eliot
Georgia O'Keeffe
Gertrude Stein
Gift Certificates
Goncourt Brothers
Gordon Lightfoot
Grazing 2009
Great Expectations
Green Mountain Spinnery
Green turn
Greener Shades
Greenmarket; Union Square
Gustave Flaubert
Hand Dyeing
Hand Dyeing Workshop
Hang Tag
Hang Tags
Hats for Haiti
Hay Feeding
Heather Yarn
Help Wanted
Henry James
High Noon
Honore Balzac
James Joyce
James Wood
James Woods
Jane Austen
Jenny Davidson
Jimi Hendrix
John Ashbery
John Ruskin
Johnny Cash
Judy Geib
Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenneth Clarke

All Categories
Blog Entries by Date

News and Blog

Posted 12/22/2010 6:01pm by Eugene Wyatt.

This morning before sunrise the local coyotes were singing beautifully, a spectacular polyphonic chant, singing one to the other and singing one to all, a wild howling chorus to the full moon in the fields near the barn.  They seemed to be where the round bales are; they were too close to the sheep.  I pointed my pistol in the direction of the mesmerizing fugue and fired  up over their heads into the cold air—3 muzzle flashes—when the gun echo died away all was quiet and darker still.

Tags: Coyotes
Posted 12/22/2010 12:49pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Instead on Christmas Eve we will be at the Union Sq. Greenmarket, from 8 AM until 4 PM.

Posted 12/20/2010 6:18pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Posted 12/19/2010 9:39am by Eugene Wyatt.

This was my morning reading before I satWe're a sangha, Stripe  and I; she is one of my house cats who sits on my right, a purring Buddha and much better than I.  When the chime ends our session I take up a pen and we play Lotto together; she purringly pushes the pen  rn-rn-rn-rnnn...to a number and I mark it.

ETHICAL INTEGRITY REQUIRES both the intelligence to understand the present situation as the fruition of former choices, and the courage to engage with it as the arena for the creation of what is to come. It empowers us to embrace the ambiguity of a present that is simultaneously tied to an irrevocable past and free for an undetermined future.

Ethical integrity is not moral certainty. A priori certainty about right and wrong is at odds with a changing and unreliable world, where the future lies open, waiting to be born from choices and acts. Such certainty may be consoling and strengthening, but it can blunt awareness of the uniqueness of each ethical moment. When we are faced with the unprecedented and unrepeatable complexities of this moment, the question is not "What is the right thing to do?" but "What is the compassionate thing to do?" This question can be approached with integrity but not with certainty. In accepting that every action is a risk, integrity embraces the fallibility that certainty disdainfully eschews.

Ethical integrity is threatened as much by attachment to the security of what is known as by fear of the insecurity of what is unknown. It is liable to be remorselessly buffeted by the winds of desire and fear, doubt and worry, fantasy and egoism. The more we give in to these things, the more our integrity is eroded and we find ourselves carried along on a wave of psychological and social habit. When responding to a moral dilemma, we just repeat the gestures and words of a parent, an authority figure, a religious text. While moral conditioning may be necessary for social stability, it is inadequate as a paradigm of integrity.

Occasionally, though, we act in a way that startles us. A friend asks our advice about a tricky moral choice. Yet instead of offering him consoling platitudes or the wisdom of someone else, we say something that we did not know we knew. Such gestures and words spring from body and tongue with shocking spontaneity. We cannot call them "mine" but neither have we copied them from others. Compassion has dissolved the stranglehold of self.  And we taste, for a few exhilarating seconds, the creative freedom of awakening.

Buddhism Without Beliefs, 1997 Stephen Batchelor

Posted 12/17/2010 8:23pm by Eugene Wyatt.

A great color for a scarf.  This is an example of the color variation that natural dyes give for reasons as numerous as the colors given.  But which color for which reason.  I suppose according to T. H. Huxley, who coined the term agnosticism in 1869, you could "follow your reason as far as it will take you," then what. Sometimes this means not actually reaching any conclusion. 

It's a color, a nice color but we may not be able to get it again.  Why? Well truthfully, I don't know.

The recipe that was followed for No Name Brown was the same as the recipe that dyed the colors shown in Iron Magic.

This color was dyed in a limited editions of 16 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/17/2010 5:45pm by Eugene Wyatt.

My father's been going through 20 years of old cooking magazines, looking for interesting things to cook and hoping to clear up some space on his bookshelf. Last night we enjoyed this delicious stew, pulled from a back issue of Saveur magazine.  Elise, Simply Recipes.


    * 3 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
    * 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
    * 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    * 1/2 cup dry white wine
    * 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    * Salt and freshly ground pepper
    * 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    * 3 canned roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
    * 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    * 4-6 sprigs parsley, chopped
    * 1 bay leaf
    * 1/2 cup dry, full-bodied red wine
    * 1/2 cup chicken stock


1. Combine the lamb, 3 of the garlic cloves, rosemary, and white wine in a medium bowl. Let marinate for 2-3 hours. Drain the meat, discard the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Mince the remaining 3 garlic cloves and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with lid, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Return all meat to the pot. Add onions, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, add roasted peppers, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until juices in pot reduce and thicken slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Add chicken stock, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Adjust seasonings.

Serves 4 to 6.

Posted 12/16/2010 1:20pm by Eugene Wyatt.


I put a Nikon 70mm-200mm f2.8 VR zoom lens on a Nikon D700 FX camera to shoot portraits.  Using a longer lens I don't frighten the sheep by getting too close to them.  This photograph was taken hand-held about 12 feet from the subject: 1/400 sec at f11 with a focal length of 105 mm and at ISO 400.



To demonstrate how good the Nikon 70-200 mm lens is, I enlarged a portion of the photo in Lightroom to show you the shadow of the ewe's eyelashes on her cornea In the original at a file size of 14 MB the shadow is even more demonstrative than in this smaller web version of 400 KB.

Note: The yarn photos are taken with my studio camera, a Nikon D80 DX with a 18mm-135mm f4.5 zoom lens, a camera with a smaller capacity.  As you can see the yarn photographs are not quite as sharp even though the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Posted 12/15/2010 9:14pm by Eugene Wyatt.


Gray Heather is different from other yarn; it is a dyed-in-the-wool black and an undyed natural white  wool that are mixed together in the card before spinning.  They are mixed to not-be-mixed-well so there is a variation of blacks and whites and grays in color visible along the fiber after it is spun.



If the wool were worked in the card longer it would be a more uniform gray. 

The spinnery has a sequence; they spin natural whites together as a group spending a month or longer on those, then they do natural colored (blacks and browns) wools taking a couple of weeks spinning those; then they spin dye-colored wools, which was when the Gray Heather was spun, before they go back to natural whites.  Between each group they must clean the card so one wool does not contaminate the color of another.


The card at Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney Vermont

About 3 weeks ago I dyed 25 pounds of wool black then shipped it to the spinnery to be carded with the natural white. Yesterday the Gray Heather arrived, today we washed the spinning oil off 4 pounds and will take that with us Saturday.  It always feels good to have something new at market.  Next week we will overdye the heather giving us tints of blue, red and green all the while maintaining the visibility of the dark and light variation underneath.  The heathered yarns are popular and we will do well with them.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep. Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Heather Department of the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/12/2010 7:32pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Surprisingly, the last time I sourced Osage Orange I could find no liquid extract; there was only sawdust available from which I would have to extract my own dye. Busy then and busy now, I had several ounces of liquid extract left and I had other yellows, a  Fustic (from the heartwood of the tree) and  a Weld (from the flowering stems of the plant), that I could work with.  I would wait.

The week before last week while ordering more natural Indigo, I was told that Osage extract was now available.  I ordered 2 lb; feeling more secure, I dyed a pure Osage last week.  It is a yellow that tends toward a green, less full than the Fustic and less bright than the Weld. 

But if the truth be told, the yellow from Osage is a difficult color to get when dyeing with the more modern acid dyes.  Subtle mixing of synthetic dyes, those of complementy colors—both secondary and tertiary, is required to get this hue; and more importantly, to get  the muted feeling that comes so easily from a  natural dye extract made from a harvest of Osage trees growing in Oklahoma.

This color was dyed in a limited edition of 16 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with earth friendly,  natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/10/2010 7:16pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Cochineal is dear. It dyes these lovely pinks after an Alum/Tartar mordant and it now sells for over $500.00 a pound.  This was the color I was trying to get last week, but getting poor coverage on the skeins I had to over dye them with indigo to get an equally lovely color, New York Twilight #10.  Having a pure cochineal pink completes a basic, but minimal, color story told by natural dyes at the stand and in the Yarn Store.

Cochineal is not a vegetable dye; it is from the Dactylopius Coccus insect that lives on the Prickly Pear cactus in the desert.  10,000 of these insects (the females only) must be harvested to make a pound of dye extract.

This color was dyed in a limited edition of 24 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.