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A more colorful existence as a fiber arts intern

Earlier last year, I decided to make a change in my life.

As I told some people that I was quitting my job so I could go work on an alpaca farm for three months I got a lot of confused looks and many, many questions. It’s hard not to doubt your own decisions in those moments, but since coming here to White Violet, my three-month internship has turned into five months, and I know now that coming here was absolutely the right decision for me.

Every intern here does a little bit of everything, but my focus is on fiber arts. I really wanted to come and expand my skill set with fiber. I knit and crochet, and my hope in coming to White Violet was to work on other skills, such as spinning and weaving, as well as learning the other aspects of the internship — working in the garden and helping out with alpaca care. In the fiber arts program, each intern gets to participate in a series of workshops that builds on our fiber skill set.

White Violet Center interns dyed yarn naturally with goldenrod, brazilwood and cochineal at a one-day workshop last September.

My absolute favorite workshop day was when we learned how to dye yarn using natural dyes. I remember piling into the van with the other fiber interns to drive to our workshop that late September morning and I was so excited.

We spent the day at our instructor’s studio learning a craft that seemed so magical to me — turning naturally grown and foraged plants into beautiful colors you could infuse into yarn, to be knit up and worn.

The most intriguing thing about it to me was that because of all the variables in the natural dye process, even when you try to replicate your results, you don’t always get a product that looks exactly like the one you tried before.

Embracing imperfection is the key, and experimenting is encouraged — that’s really what I loved about it. There are no rules. We dyed with goldenrod and osage orange, which created beautiful mustard yellows, and brazilwood and cochineal, which both made gorgeous reds and pinks.

On the drive back from the workshop that late afternoon, as I reflected on the day, I felt so incredibly happy about my decision to do an internship with White Violet. I was in disbelief that all these amazing things you can learn exist here at this one place. I hadn’t even seen yet all that there was to come.

Knitting, weaving, spinning, soap felting, needle felting, nuno-felting, eco-print dyeing, pattern designing, skirting, carding (and more) are all things you can learn here as a fiber intern. Not to mention all of the countless non-fiber-related things I’ve learned about gardening, alpacas and chickens, and different homesteading skills, such as vegetable fermentation. Every day here is different, and every single day you learn something new — not only from the program, but from fellow interns, as well.

As I wrap up my internship this month, I will also be focusing a lot on completing my final project — creating a plan for natural dyeing to begin at White Violet Center. From gathering all the necessary tools and materials, to preparing a space for a dye studio and creating a dye log so that we can start experimenting with the process, recording our results, and hopefully be able to use it for WVC’s fiber program in the future.

I couldn’t be more excited to help get this going, so that future fiber interns can hopefully get as excited about dyeing as I am.

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Hannah Goodno

Hannah Goodno is an intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice who grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Philadelphia. She has a bachelor's degree in international studies. Madison is her favorite alpaca.

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3 Comments

  1. Susan Wever on January 23, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    It sounds wonderful! Where can I sign up?!

  2. Dawn Tomaszewski SP on January 24, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents, especially your wonderful enthusiasm and energy with all of us!

  3. Linda on January 24, 2018 at 10:33 am

    I loved reading about your experience with natural dying of fibers – with so many variables it’s not an exact science. It reminded me of having children, same parents, but beautiful unique results. Your process isn’t as complex but just as beautiful and full of little, or big, surprises.

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