Today we’d like to introduce you to Emma Doucette of Botanical Fibres. Based in Nova Scotia, Emma specializes in naturally dyed yarns. In fact, a desire to work with natural dyes is the core of her business and the reason why she began dyeing in the first place:
Emma grew up in New Brunswick and preferred learning new textile crafts from her mother and grandmother to playing outside (relatable). She went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to study sculpture…but things didn’t go quite as planned.
It wasn’t until I realized all my sculptures were “soft sculptures” that I decided I should probably take a hint from my childhood and take a textile class.
She graduated from NSCAD with a BFA majoring in Textiles, and she’s been exploring fibre arts ever since.
Emma collects dyes locally whenever she can, from goldenrod to onion skins to coreopsis (a yellow flower a bit like a daisy). She also works with Maiwa, a Canadian company that specializes in natural dyes from indigo to madder root.
Natural dyes can be tricky—some require different processes than others, depending on the extraction process and the result you’re looking for. Instead of trying to recreate specific colours or making themed colourways like many of our dyers do, Emma focuses on the dyes and the dyeing processes and lets the results happen naturally.
Rather than say “I want to make this specific shade of orange” it sounds more like “I wonder what rich shade of orange I will get if I try 2 parts madder root to one part osage, or what if I switch the osage for coreopsis” etc. It is a fun challenge every day.
Working with natural dyes is a lengthy and complex process. From washing and mordanting the yarns, to extracting the dye, to monitoring the temperature of the water and allowing it to cool sufficiently, it can take days (and careful planning) to complete a batch.
Emma loves the variety of her work as a dyer and how each day is different from the last.
I enjoy my quiet studio days labeling yarn as much as I do my hectic fibre market days talking yarn for hours and meeting new people. My job in the fibre arts is never boring and lets me do all the things I love while also being wrapped in a community of likeminded fibre nerds. It is wonderful.
Emma’s focus will be on growing Botanical Fibres in the coming year. She had to put a lot of her plans on hold in 2020 and she’s looking forward to regaining that momentum.
It finally feels like my business is back on its pre-pandemic trajectory and I am so excited to see how far it can go.