Yarn maker blends art, science in new business

By Erin Mairose, for SiouxFalls.Business

A trip to Scotland earlier this spring inspired Elk Point resident Anastasia Williams to try dyeing her own yarn. The experience marked the start to her business, South Dakota Yarn Co., which uses natural plants and extracts to dye yarn into shades of pink, green, yellow, brown and more. 

“I thought there’s really nothing like that around here that’s doing anything similar,” Williams said.

After a summer of doing what she compares to home science experiments, Williams discovered that depending on the length of time, temperature and blending of different plants and extracts, she could create a spectrum of colors.

Using indigo plant creates shades of blue, while other materials such as tomato plants, onions skins and black walnuts create earthly, subtle hues.

There are only two stores in the Sioux Falls area that sell yarn, making naturally dyed wool hard to find, she said. That led her to see an opportunity.

Under the name of South Dakota Yarn Co., Williams decided to start her business as a hobby, hoping other knitters and crocheters would take interest in using her naturally dyed yarn.

She’s bringing 16 colors of yarn in varying weights to the 605 Made Holiday Market on Dec. 2 in the lower-level parking garage of Cherapa Place in downtown Sioux Falls. The pop-up market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features 50 area makers. Williams said her yarns are perfect for creating socks, sweaters, hats and mittens or for knitting and crochet designs.

Williams started knitting three years ago and said people would be surprised by the number of knitting and crochet groups in the area. When she started sharing how she hand-dyed her yarn, many crafters “thought it was really interesting and cool that you get the kinds of colors just using natural things,” she said.

What Williams doesn’t end up selling, she uses herself, which makes yarn dyeing worth it for the “sheer joy of doing it,” she said.

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Yarn maker blends art, science in new business

A trip to Scotland followed by some at-home experimentation led to South Dakota Yarn Co., one of the only businesses selling naturally dyed yarn in the state.

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