the story behind the fiber
Each Modus Operandi Fiber yarn skein is $34. Why?
From bare fiber to finished product, each skein takes 4 to 6 days to make. On this page, I'll share the steps of hand dyeing these colorful skeins.
Each piece is a labor of love with natural dyes. I hope you enjoy learning about the science and fun behind the dyeing process with me!
All Modus Operandi Fibers yarn and goods are dyed with botanical and natural dyes. To maintain consistency and quality of signature colors, dyes are purchased from a trusted natural dye supplier and recipes are used for Signature Colors. Dye left over in the bath is reused for limited colorways and other naturally dyed goods. Yarn bases are purchased from a U.S. supplier that sources non-mulesed wool from South America and the U.S.
garden + local
Most Limited + Seasonal yarn and goods are dyed with flowers, leaves, fruits, and seeds from my garden and local restaurants.
I maintain a garden with dozens of natural dye plants. Dye pots prepared with garden botanicals usually take 2 days to make, and may include weeks or months of collecting and drying dye material. Examples of botanical ingredients collected from restaurants include avocado pits and onion skins.
Fiber is soaked in water to start the process, then placed in a mordant bath, heated, and soaked for hours to prepare for dyeing.
A mordant bath is a mixture of water and a mineral salt used to affix dye to fiber. Mordant helps to 'bite' the dye to the natural fibers, ensuring consistent, deep colors that won't fade. Different mordants can produce different colors from the same dye.
After yarn is prepared in a mordant bath, it is rinsed well and hung to dry in a cool dark place.
This is an essential step in my dye process. Mordanted yarn is purposefully dried slowly over 48 hours. This helps to finish the mordant to the fiber, and ensure deep and consistent colors when dyed. If the just-mordanted yarn goes right into the dye pot, some color can be lost.
Once the yarn is prepared and dried, it's ready for the dye bath.
Before dyeing, the yarn is once again soaked in water. A dye bath is prepared with natural or botanical dyes. Yarn is placed in the dye bath and usually heated for up to 2 hours. Some yarn is dipped in a post-mordant bath to shift colors. Cooled, dyed yarn is then rinsed thoroughly to remove excess dye particles.
Fiber is dried then twisted into skeins and labeled. MO Fibers labels are printed on 100% recycled paper tags.
Then the best and final step. I send out the yarn or other naturally dyed goods to you, and get to see all your beautiful makes and wears!
To learn more about gardening and natural dyeing, check out Dirt + Dye resources here.