Dyeing Local at Biota Yarns

Kelly Knispel @Biotayarns

I am Biotayarns©, a yarn farmer living in SD, raising sheep and angora goats and spinning their locks. I will also card your wool & fibers.

One of the goals of my wool business has been to connect the wool producer with the fiber artist consumer. I have made the acquaintance of many shepherds who raise sheep and wool as a raw product and do not realize they have a market for the wool. I know many knitters, crocheters and weavers who use wool yarns and fibers and are unaware that wool is regionally available to them for their projects. I try and bring these two groups together, working to promote a regional fibershed, an economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable textile community. Working with local sheep producers of quality breeds of wool, in quantities that make it possible to have yarn produced for more people in my fiber region is one way to create a local wool product for the consumer market. The resulting yarn I work to create is a quality, mill spun yarn in natural colors of the sheep: white, cream, gray and black.

Over the years that I have worked and taught in the textile art field, color has played a dominant role in the projects I create as well as the custom work I do. Dyeing wool can take place at any step of the process from raw lock to finished garment. Like so many others, I am drawn to dyes from natural sources for the challenge, intrigue and availability of the dye. Throughout the growing season, different plants and parts of plants: leaves, flowers, bark, roots and seeds yield dyes that can be used to color fibers and material. Getting outside to explore my prairie landscape and seek out plants that will yield color is a great opportunity for me to learn more about the world I inhabit.

I established Biota yarns© in 2003 as a vision to bring local wool fibers and local plant dyes together in a sustainable fiber product. To that end, I continue to source local wool, alpaca, mohair and llama fibers, dye them with local plant dyes and process them into spinning fibers, yarn and finished wearable garments.

- Kelly Knispel (@Biotayarns)


Kelly Knispel is a shepherd and natural dye artisan who has worked for twenty-five years dyeing and spinning yarn from wool and mohair produced by her flock of sheep and angora goats. She teaches dyeing, knitting and spinning classes at fiber festivals, historical reenactments and through community arts programs. Kelly has been a dedicated organizer, participant and board member at North Country Fiber Fair and Prairie Fiber Arts Guild since 1992. Kelly and her mother, have operated the Natural Colored Wool Studio in Groton, SD since 1996 and Kelly is the owner of Dakota Carding and Wool Co., (est. 2009), a wool carding business at her farm in Northeast, South Dakota where she resides. The business sells handspun yarns, locally produced yarns, spinning wool produced from her sheep, knitting & spinning supplies, and finished fiber art apparel. She also dyes the wool or yarns using natural plant dyes made from marigold blossoms, curled dock, golden rod, black walnuts, indigo, basil plants and many more that she grows and forages on the prairie where she resides.

If you would like to purchase some of Kelly's beautiful naturally dyed yarns or fibers, please visit her online shop at or through Etsy.

You can also connect with her on Instagram or Facebook so you never miss a beautiful post of what she's making and experiencing.

In addition to their beautiful yarns & fibers, Biota Yarns / Dakota Carding also sells Spinning Wheels, Wearable Art, Fiber Arts Supplies & they offer custom carding .

Word of Warning: I may have purchased a nice-sized cloud of pink fiber recently all because Kelly posted it on Instagram and I fell instantly in love. If the same happens to you after viewing her shop, I cannot be held accountable for the resulting addiction. All of her products are amazingly gorgeous and everything I've seen in person is lovely to work with as well!

Tagetes Shawlette

Kelly's marigold-dyed Biota Yarns were the inspiration behind my Tagetes Shawlette design. As soon as I saw the sample skein that she sent me, I knew that it had to be something that was based on plant life while also being very wearable. Tagetes begins with an easier I-Cord Tab Cast On and grows through 3 ever-increasing leaf/petal patterns overlaid on a simple mesh background. The edges are stabilized through an I-Cord edging that is slightly different from the usual. This slight change creates an edge where the joins on both sides fall to the back of the work so the front remains mirrored. It’s finished with a simple picot BO and an optional button closure.

Perfect for Fall layering & only 3 kits left in stock (at the time of this writing)! Order your kit before they're gone for good.

Happy Crafting!

Shaina ^_^


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