In addition to growing our own natural dye herbs we have a small herd of beautiful alpacas. Alpaca fibre is prized for its softness and warmth and it is well known for its fineness, lightweight and lustre.
Alpacas fleeces come in 22 natural shades ranging from black to silver, rose grey to white. From mahogany brown to light fawn.
Alpaca fibre contains no lanolin making it hypoallergenic and will not irritate the skin as wool does for some people.
As our herd was called Bright Alpacas, I decided several years ago – after their first shearing, to dye some of their lovely fleeces – using only natural dyes…….the results were amazing!
Several years on and with much research and experimentation I now grow what I believe to be the most reliable, lightfast and wash fast dyes which are woad, indigo, weld, madder, coreopsis and walnut and buy in logwood and cochineal.
Many herbs, berries, barks, flowers and vegetables can be used to make natural dyes. However, sadly many of these will give disappointing results and will prove to have poor light and wash fast qualities. It is really important to select a dye which has a long reputation for being reliable. It is most disheartening to spend your time and enthusiasm on a dye which fades or discolours after a few washes.
I love working with natural dyes and I feel they are much more conductive to the creative process, I love the wide range of fabulous colours, I love growing my own dye plants – every aspect of the craft is so exciting ……………..and I love the thought that I am not using any harmful chemicals in the process.
Natural dyes are the most ecologically sound and by using them in preference to synthetic dyes we can help reduce our carbon footprint. Natural dyes are renewable resources and are kinder to our environment than synthetic dyes which are petroleum based, steeped in toxicity and cause pollution and water contamination when disposed of.
I would like to encourage you to think about becoming more creative – maybe making your own clothes from natural fibres, learning the crafts of spinning, felting, natural dyeing, weaving or needlecraft. I would like to encourage you to manage your resources with extreme care and work towards a greener and more self sufficient lifestyle – which brings great peace, joy and a sense of satisfaction to our lives.