Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Candice English of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Candice English of The Farmer's Daughter Fibers

This is the 13th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers first caught my eye when I was at The Knot House for the 2017 Maryland Sheep & Wool indie pop-up. I was intrigued by dyer Candice’s subtle palette that was comprised of many of my favorite colors: berry pinks, steely grays and watery blues.

In the last few years, Candice, whose home state of Montana infuses her brand, has become involved in Indie Untangled and this year I’m excited for her to debut a new concept at the Rhinebeck Trunk Show — she will be taking over part of the lounge at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory with her Sisters United initiative, a massive fundraiser that benefits organizations that are dedicated to supporting Native American women.

At the show she will be collaborating with another IU veteran, Rochelle of Home Row Fiber Co., to offer her October initiative with custom Sisters United bag, a skein of a custom FDF colorway and a pattern. All proceeds from this collaboration are donated to the initiative.

How would you say your heritage has informed the story of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers?

When I first started our company, I was going through all of the first initial steps anyone does; brainstorming about branding, what story we wanted to tell, who was our target audience, etc. It first started with knowing that a lot of people I would run into in Portland and Seattle would be totally enamored with the fact I was from Montana. I thought a lot about that and realized a lot people are seeking from this slower-paced, easygoing, hard-working lifestyle. Then came a naming of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers from a song my cousin sings me by Merle Haggard. Something clicked once we named it and our heritage became the focus and center around the culture and art of FDF.

What inspired you to launch the Sisters United Initiative?

In June of 2017 a young girl named Ashley Heavyrunner Loring went missing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The way her case was handled was messed up, and I knew that if she was a white girl things would have went a lot differently. I didn’t know Ashley personally but something about her going missing touched a nerve that had been brewing for sometime. I see all of these issues every single day that effect American Indians and at a certain point it becomes too much. The anxiety was really eating at me and it felt like I would explode if I didn’t try to help. By January 2019, FDF had that ability.

Sisters United bags

Tell us about the organizations that benefit from the initiative.

This changes all the time and you can find a list on the Sister’s United page of our website. Recently we set up a $5,000 college scholarship for a Native American student and our next project we will be putting together healing bundles for trauma survivors. I am doing some of the ground work with our local human trafficking and MMIP (Murdered and Missing Indigenous People) task force, so this helps steer us to see where we are needed.

How do you decide on the artisans to work with for the project?

This year everyone has reached out to me, which has been amazing! At this point I could honestly make Sister’s United my full time job. So without the help of my fellow makers I could not pull this off. I ask them to have creative control on what they are contributing and we follow their lead, it makes it manageable for me.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I first started doing a lot of natural dying — my mom practices traditional plant medicine — and I wanted to bring my love of fiber together with her love of plants. Three years later and I was in a job where I was working 60-plus hours a week and really unhappy in general. I knew I wanted to do something within the knitting industry, but plant dying was too spiritual for me to want to sell out. So I tried using acid dyes and fell in love with the process.

Blue speckled yarn

Crow Camp

Which of your colorways are you most proud of?

Crow Camp is probably up there, one of my favorite artists Kevin Red Star sent me a Christmas card one year (btw this was one of those mailing list type cards, but that didn’t stop me from being a dorky fan girl!) and I replicated his colors on Crow Camp. I sent it to him and he thought is was pretty cool!

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Anything blush colored, pinks, purples, raspberry. Always and forever!

How did you learn to knit?

I was using one of those Kniffty Knitter looms and my husband encouraged me to ask my friend Brooke to teach me how to “really” knit. I always say those were his famous last words! Poor guy just wanted me to make him some hats and now we have family business based off the industry!

Golden speckled yarn

Ode to Autumn

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I am getting back into traditional beading! I love to do any new fun craft with my daughter too.

What advice would you have for people just getting started in the industry?

Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing. Listen to your inner creative spirit and let that be your driving force to how you want to run your business. I remember it being really difficult for me at first to decide where and how I wanted to grow Farmer’s Daughter, as there are so many different routes you can go. First, make sure it makes you happy when you are doing it, and second it will eventually make you some money because it matters more than you think in the beginning. Burnout is real, but having financial stability is a good cure.

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