The Beginning; Making it Bloom

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The Beginning; Making it Bloom

Temecula Ca

My Mind Was A Desert
When I first learned dyeing in February, 2006, I had no preconceived notions about anything related to fiber.  My mind was like the topography of the high desert where I live; barren.  Fiber arts was something I NEEDED to learn because I started raising long wool sheep and Angora goats.  I thought the animals were beautiful; the sheep for their incredibly long lustrous fleeces, and the goats for the silky feel of their mohair.   I wasn’t at all interested in becoming a fiber artist, it was the love of animals that pushed me towards fiber.  To this day,  I still am a shepherd first and foremost, and the fiber is simply the bi-product that comes from what I love.


Natalie Redding, Namaste Farms

Take it All In
If you want to learn something quickly, learning one on one is best. I wanted to learn about fiber arts so I scoured fiber festivals reading about teachers. I tried to find someone who would come to California to teach me. I was lucky enough to stumble upon Sharon Chestnutt, Cloudspun Farm. She was the first and only person to teach me spinning, dyeing, and raising fiber animals (outside of Cal Poly State Univ). Her approach was a gift to me because she left me with concepts and and unbiased approach. I related to her instantly even though, from a fundamental level, we are such different types of people who live diametrically opposed livestyles. Sharon, while highly intelligent, chooses to live a simple communal lifestyle in Oregon. At the time, she had no running water, no heat or  indoor plumbing.  While we were so different, the way Sharon taught resonated with me.  Her information came with no runaround, minutia, just reality and simplicity. Sharon didn’t try to show me things in a complicated way to make her methods seem valuable. The concept of “puffing up information” is a powerful marketing tool and, you’ll notice, there are a lot of books about _____ (insert any hobby or?) that make simple concepts seem complex.  Concepts which could have been explained in paragraphs instead of chapters but, if the author showed “it” with the simplicity deserved,  how would they justify the revenue off of little content?  Similarly, if a person wants to show they know concepts others don’t, they have to come up with jargon, rules, wordiness, and, of course, a PROCEDURE that you must BUY, FOLLOW, ADMIRE (or?) to be as successful. Right? But you know what? If an individual is really going to be successful at whatever “X” is they would have been successful with the readers digest or free version. The practical aspects Sharon taught me took less than 2 hours, really. You know why? Because everything she told me was communicated in an efficient manner and then, backed up with logic and experience.  This information became the foundation of my Fiber Art success and the basis of how I teach my own students.

Cactus and Wool

And I thought Cactus were Prickly
One thing I liked about the fiber arts? It was so easy to take the fiber I raised and make a product, heck, the sheep and goats were doing the product making for me. Another thing I liked? I was ACTUALLY using the knowledge from my B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science to raise my flock. I felt like I’d really come full circle and couldn’t wait to meet like minded people. So where were these “like minded” people? I thought, “Fiber Festivals. If I go to fiber festivals, I can show my animals while simultaneously meeting new friends.” I actually had visualizations of me in the show ring, then, after the show, having riveting conversations on “the Angora Goat louse, scurf, or Barberpole worm etc… with other participants. Sadly, my first show at Black Sheep Gathering (Eugene, Oregon), would be one of many painful reminders that even farming and the fiber arts has “a special club” of cliques and you must be invited. What I wanted was to be part of a community, to share conversations and to have friends who loved what I loved. What I got were mean spirited women who whispered and giggled as I walked by. I was so self conscious that I thought, well, maybe they don’t realize I’m actually “one of them”… I raise sheep, and, I’m a budding fiber artist. So, with that logic, I asked the volunteers and the chairperson if I could help with anything. One person spoke up and said, “You can stand and watch the gate, it’s a very important job” and then they all proceeded to laugh. It was humiliating and I cried.

Natalie Redding

Now What?
I would, now, focus on the fiber because it was anonymous. You could sell fiber online, there was no need for “face to face,” and all you needed was a good product. This meant going to shows would be a means to an end. In my mind, I needed to go so I’d have titles and these titles would make my fiber legitimate; like ribbons were a “resume” from my flock. To make myself feel better and not chased out, I would say, “The best form of revenge? Success.” This is advice I tell my friends and followers constantly. Whenever a person complains to me about a competitor etc… I say, “Just be better. Success is the best revenge.” The funny part about that? When you’re more successful, the very person, entity et al… you were trying to extinguish, doesn’t feel threatening anymore; “Poof!” and they’re gone. This is the definition of win/win.


Garden Seeds

To be continued!  Check back Dec 12, 2015 for the second installment!

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  1. Natalie, your blog is beautiful. I really enjoyed reading it and I love how you have created such an authentic and successful life doing what you love. We have all benefitted by your perseverance and your willingness to share.

  2. I followed your show, I follow you on FB and, nowI will follow you on your blog. You are fantastic in all that you do and thank you for sharing all of you and your family.

  3. Wonderful blog post Natalie. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences. You seem so confident to me I would of never guessed your first fiber festival experience to be like that. I really love your quote. “The best revenge is success!” You are like a “Rock Star” to me!
    Your biggest fan,

  4. Love your honesty and wisdom. Thank you for sharing and opening your heart. Your are a great teacher and I love your classes.

  5. I had no idea you had a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science…very cool. The blog was amazing & I have to totally make a meme of your quote “The best form of revenge? Success.” by Natalie Redding

  6. Thank you for your transparency. It is hard for me to believe that there are such nasty people in the world. I have received so much from your teaching and personal style of “conversational” info-sharing! I’m glad you stuck with it!

  7. You are such an inspiration Natalie!!! I love your new blog and can hardly wait for the next one!!! I have been following your page / work since way back in 2012 ( ok .. not that long ago!! lol… we are young haha) when you stepped up to help us with the little blonde cocker girl named DeeDee that you fostered and tried to bring back to health. Sadly , she was too far gone, but I will never forget your kindness and willingness to help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart once again.
    I am fascinated by your talent!! WOW!!
    Not only are you talented and beautiful… you have an AMAZING heart!! <3

  8. WOW! what a surprise–I am thrilled that you have a blog! As you know, your are my major muse, and I am you #1 fan ( although many would claim that placement). Rock On, Natalie!! Love and best wishes!!❤️❤️❤️

  9. The world is full of mean girls. Every industry/hobby etc. has them. I keep to myself and just do what I enjoy- the animals make it all worth it. I have enjoyed following you for a couple years now, you make me smile. I’m the woman who trims goat’s feet with a French tip manicure

  10. Love your blog! I applaud any one who has a small fiber business who is successful! I too had similar experiences when showing my dairy goats, and found success is the best revenge!! Bred goats who made the top 10 in the nation for production. It was sweet! I decided not to show my SHEEP, but breed for the best breed standards I could and for the best fiber I love, even cross breeding to get what I want. I sell my fiber on line and it makes me happy to please my customers. Each of us can create our own niche and be successful with out negativity. My credo is (Learn something everyday and if not for failures how can we be successful!) look forward to reading your blogs and love the photos of you in the desert and how a little strand of dyed wool made it more beautiful. When I first saw the photo of the red I thought about cochineal bugs.

  11. Natalie, I recently made the decision to learn about fibers, spinning and dyeing. I’ve been a knitter for years and realized it was time to jump in deeper waters. I stumbled across your videos on day and knew right then I wanted to learn more. You are a great inspiration and I want to thank you for sharing your insight, enthusiasm and knowledge with us all. Don’t you ever change a thing! Love your energy too!

  12. I just love your fiber you create beautiful colors I must orded some I enjoy knitting scarfes and your colors of the fiber would make an Awesome scarf I will go into your website and place an order. I to just started a blog on my Bengal Cat website it’s interesting how people chime in with their comments, I would love to here from you on my new blog Thank You
    You beautiful talented Lady !

  13. Love the blog, Nat.
    As Laura said – it sounds just like you.
    Will be checking in Dec 12 for the next instalment.

  14. What a beautiful read. Just like the woman writing it. It is an amazing story and I look forward to the next installment. Thank you for allowing me into your amazing life.

  15. This flowed so comfortably, and is so the you I feel I know. I’m looking forward to the continuation. Thank you!

  16. I loved reading this, Natalie. I’ve learned just about everything “fiber related” from you and it breaks my heart that you suffered cruelty. I’ve seen it time and time again with others too and frankly it took me by surprise when I first saw it in the fiber world. “Just be better” are words to live by! I do fiber because I love it and I love making pretty things to send out into a dark world. Thank you for showing me the way. You’re a shepherd to more than you’re fiber critters. Stay well my friend.

  17. Love your blog – your comments ring so true. I’ve been weaving for a number of years and always feel like the outsider at festivals & guilds. Maybe not being part of the clique limits distractions to learning and experimenting. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  18. Very nice. This is a good idea because your life is interesting and so close to mine. I wish I had recorded all of the experiences I have had with my livestock and how the evolution of my life has been guided by these animals.

  19. I haven’t kept tag on any fiber things in the last year. I haven’t even spun a thing. I found some of my yarn from years ago and hung it up to visit it everyday, remind myself to do the things I love. Got on line and saw your blog, the reinforcement I needed to back to fiber. Thank you Nat. Nice blog.

  20. Go Natalie! Great post!
    And funny thing is (about the prickliness)…it’s not related just to fiber arts, I’ve seen what you described about the cattiness of some, in at least three other craft industries – soap, candles, art. It’s the ugly-side of human nature where apparently *some* are threatened by up-and-comers, need to puff themselves up by tearing others down, and suffer the delusion that there are only a finite number of slots to be filled on the success ladder. HA! Yet if you look around, those who truly ARE successful are some of the biggest and best sharers and not the least bit threatened–they already *get it*. YOU get it. And that’s a key piece of your success. Keep on!

  21. Nat, we’ve been friends for several years now. You are the reason I became involved in fiber arts. I have enormous respect for you as a parent, wife, friend, artist, dog rescuer, businesswoman and human being. You are one of the most gifted artists I know. Your honesty, sincerity, kindness, and understanding have made it easy to keep you in my heart. I am so sorry that anyone would make you feel sad enough to cry. People are envious of your looks, ignore them! I don’t know anyone who works harder, or who deserves success more!

  22. I love the blog along with all of your other videos. I learned to spin and dye fiber and everything that I now love to do from you Natalie. I have high degree of respect for you as the person that you are, your fantastic talent, and your ability to present your knowledge to us out here. I will continue to follow you on blog also. 🙂

  23. Thank you for writing this Natalie. I have major social anxiety and have often wondered how we will do when the time comes for us to start vending at major fiber festivals and / or showing our animals. I always had that fear that I would be judged or laughed at… it is amazing to read that you have had the exact experience that I have feared. You… who are so incredibly strong and outgoing and friendly and, well, LOVED in the fiber community.

    People can be very cruel sometimes, and I really like hearing about people finding a way to overcome that and rise above it. And what you said about the competition is so incredibly true. I remember over a year ago when I was having issues with a competitor copying us over and over, you told me to just focus on making our business better and it would become a non-issue. That stuck with me more than I can say… success really is the best form of revenge.

    Looking forward to the next blog!

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