Diary of an Eco Dyer

Diary of an Eco Dyer

We catch up with our columnist Jennifer Lienhard of Apple Oak Fibre Works

The last couple of months have flown and things are as busy as ever, but there is still some time to let you know what’s going on at the moment.

Starting with a Date for Your Diary!

The Knitting & Stitching Show is on at the RDS in Dublin from the 8-11th of November  – and we’ll be there!

Facing North

In collaboration with Albina McLochlainn of LB Handknits, I am delighted to introduce Facing North – a place-specific collection of simple patterns for chunky yarns.

Designed with our Stockholm yarn and compatible with a variety of chunky-weight (100m/ 100g) yarns, Facing North features four unique garment patterns to keep you cosy in the starkest of winter climates. Also included are four charming accessory projects, each calling for only a single skein of yarn. All designs are seamless, quick to knit, suitable for advanced beginners, and engaging enough to appeal to experienced knitters. Presented in a beautifully illustrated book, the collection includes schematics, charts, and detailed written instructions for each pattern, as well as narratives about the places and events that inspired the designs.

The paper publication date is scheduled for the 6th of November (to be physically unveiled at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Dublin), with the e-book to be available shortly beforehand.

In the meantime, Albina will be releasing each of the garment patterns individually on Ravelry in the weeks leading up to this date – with those who have pre-ordered the collection receiving download codes for the individual patterns as they go live.

The first pattern to be released is Fisherman’s Muse and it has just gone up.

What will we bring to Dublin?

At present we are ruthlessly deciding what will go and what will be kept. We’re letting go of all the commercially dyed yarns and only keeping our naturally dyed ranges and further developing them. We’re currently developing a full new colour range for the Softwool 25 colours ( I must be mad!) and filling gaps in our Stockholm range of 21 colours and Lincot with 17 new colours.

We’ll continue to offer 3 weights of Alpaca Yarn in natural undyed Colours Fino, Puno and Quito and are presently working on several more colour schemes for our Turin, Alpaca Light, Doolin, Yalana and Yeti Range to be added in Spring.

Nonetheless, they’ll all be present at the K&S Show including two more ranges – Jacob Aran and BFL DK. These aren’t available online yet and will only present a small introductory collection at the K&S with more coming in Spring!


We’ll also bring Wool and Plant fibre needle felting kits.

Woad Project

So much is happening at the moment! You might have heard about our Woad project – well – it is truly up and running now and I have a small jar containing a small amount of Woad Pigment gracing my bookshelf. You can join our Facebook Group if you are interested in growing and dyeing with Woad or pop over to our blog to find out more!

We harvested a total of 3.3kg of Woad leaves and after processing, were rewarded with a stunning 5g. I haven’t used it for dyeing yet, but will do so soon. I’m curious to know if the pigment will produce a stronger dye than with fresh leaves.

Because we shared the progress online in the Facebook group, it was rewarding to see how other dyers got on and what they created – one lady even dyed a pink! But it’s her secret to tell how.

The colours so far varied from pale blues, blues, pinks and greens. I’m not much of a chemist – in fact, it was one of my worst subjects in school – but to play with plant dyes and experiment is simply fascinating.

Sustainable Commitments

We’re more and more asked about sustainable practices when it comes to dyeing yarn. Water being a major issue – seeing that the amount used for soaking, dyeing and rinsing can be major. We’re presently looking at buying some land to develop our business further. Including Water Harvesting Systems and Plant bed systems to filter the Water. With this, we’ll be creating a complete circle by harvesting rainwater, using it for dyeing and then giving it back to Mother Earth by filtering it through stone and plants.

All our packaging is compostable, apart from our plant dye bags ( I haven’t found any strong enough yet, to hold the dyes, but we are working on it! ) Yes, even our plastic bags! And to boot, most of it’s from Irish waste. www.ecoland.ie

Solar Panels for energy and Growing of Woad and Japanese Indigo are also part of our plan.

So all and all a busy next year ahead! 🙂

Shop updates

  • We’ll have a massive Sale at the K&S because we’re letting go of so many yarns! Commercially dyed yarns, acid dyed yarns by us and discontinued lines, also dyed by us! And I mean crates of yarn!
  • We’re getting a website!! We’re currently working on getting our own website – a big job, but we’re hoping to have yarns and dyes online by the time we are going to Dublin.
  • Obviously developing lots of new colour ranges.
  • We’ll start stocking a new Felt Supply in the near future because our Supplier is sadly letting go of the beautiful Certifelt. On the plus side, the new felt has over 70 colours, so we certainly will have a great choice – and as usual 100% wool.
  • Our 19mic Merino is 50% reduced Clearance Sale – if you like to grab a bargain do so now before it’s gone!




Jenny works from her home in County Clare with her husband Tristan and three children.  She was formerly trained as a kindergarten teacher and then as a garden designer; before returning to her first love; colour and yarn. Her shop,  Apple Oak Fibre Works can be found here on Etsy.