Butternut Madder Fingering

Beautiful Butternut Madder wool/mohair heavy fingering weight yarn dyed with ground madder roots and butternuts gathered from the forest right here on the farm.

The Yarn

  • 70% Shetland/Cormo Wool
  • 30% Mohair
  • 3 ply heavy fingering
  • ~408 yards/4.4 oz (125 g)

The Natural Dye

  • Nuts of the Butternut (Juglans cinerea) collects from the forest at the farm
  • Nuts simmered for few hours, then un-mordanted yarn added to pot with nuts and simmered until desired shade
  • Yarn then mordanted in Alum and Cream of Tarar and over-dyed in Madder (Rubia tinctoria)

Washing

  • Hand wash or gentle machine cycle
  • warm/warm small load
  • inside out in sized delicates bag is good practice (not too loose, not too snug)
  • no bleach
  • dry flat

This is Beauregard, whose fleece forms the base of this Butternut Madder fingering weight natural dyed yarn. His mother, Beaulagh, is a Shetland x Cormo Ewe and his father, Chas, is a purebred Shetland Ram who hails from the home of the original North American breed rescue flock of Colonel G.D. Dailley, the first person granted permission to import the rare Shetland Sheep directly from the Shetland Isles to Canada.

Beauregard is a Wether, so his only job is to grow beautiful fleece. His fleece is processed at Wellington Fibres, a short drive from the farm. There it is blended with 30% mohair from the mill’s own her of Angora Goats. It is spun and plied with a good twist into a 3 ply sock yarn.

Butternut trees are resident here and there in the forest and fence rows of the farm. Butternut is a member of the Walnut family. The nuts are more oblong than round like a Black Walnut, and the husks are sticky.

They produce their nuts in late summer into early fall and I collect them while their husks are still green, as it is the husks that have the highest concentration of dye compounds. That means picking them directly off the tree where reachable, or racing the squirrels to collect them off the ground when the fall, and before the green hulls start to blacken.

The nuts also contain tannins which means the dye doesn’t need a mordant to fix it to the yarn. But to over-dye butternut I mordant the yarn after the dye has set.

I over-dyed these One of a Kind skeins with Dyer’s Madder which I can grow on the farm. The dye compounds are in the roots of the plant, and they are best harvested when 3 years old. After harvesting the roots are dried and ground before simmering in a dye bath.

Beauregard, a Shetland x Cormo Wether