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Help in wool and natural plant dyes project, organic veg and medicinal herb garden in Asturias, north coast of Spain

World, Europe, Spain, Vivigo



Travel dates

27°C, 03:17

About the workproject

We need 2 volunteers

I would like to share this project with people who are genuinely interested in wool, natural dyes and medicinal plants. If you have not been interested in these things in the past please do not apply. It is not necessary to have any previous knowledge as you can learn here but it is important that you have a genuine passion for these things.

This is an amazingly beautiful area in Asturias, the north coast of Spain, lush and green all year round, with mountains, beaches, rivers and paths within 10km around the house. Our house is located in Oviñana, a coastal village in the north of Spain (Asturias), just where the Cabo Vidio is (Vidio Cape), 20 min drive from the Asturias airport. Jobs vary depending on the time of the year you come but as a rule of thumb be ready to do general maintenance work as required (fences, painting, etc..), garden jobs such as sowing seeds, weeding, collecting plants for drying, preparing plant dye stuffs and dyeing, preparing herb oils and tinctures, washing fleece in the river and carding the fleece with the drum carder.
Depending on the time of the year in which you come and what we are doing in the house, you will learn about many beautiful things regarding working with wool the old way, creating a natural dyes garden, veg garden and medicinal plants garden. The garden is small and organic. You will learn to plant different plants together aiming at creating an environment in which they support and defend one another. This is called companion planting. You will learn to use infusions from certain plants to help protect and heal diseases from other plants. We also go for walks in Nature and you will learn to pick medicinal wild herbs to dry and make oils and tinctures with.
We work with wool the old way (but we are beautiful and modern wink ha ha). You will learn to wash the fleece in the river using urine because it has the exact amount of ammonia necessary to dissolve the oily lanolin and never enough to pollute the river. Then we eat our picnic, read a book or play games while it dries in the sun ready to be taken back home. You will learn to card it using the drum carder, a very simple process, that "combs" the fibres and prepares for the last step, which is spinning using a spinning wheel. Then is dyeing time.
Natural plant dyes availability depend on the time of the year; not all plant dyes are available all year round. We will dye with whatever is available when you are here but bear in mind that August, September and October are the months with more options. You will learn to use safe mordants. Mordants are minerals used to make the yarn colour-fast and to vary the shade of colour. Without mordants natural plant dyes won’t stay in your yarn for too long. Safe mordants, that is respectful with the environment, are alum, iron and copper. You will learn to prepare dye-stuffs and get the dye bath ready for the fleece and yarn.
Our work schedule is from 8 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday. This work schedule includes two half hour breaks. For the first couple of days we will work together so that you can learn the jobs that need doing but once you have learnt them you will be doing some of these activities on your own. Quiet time is at about 11 pm so please no noise after this time.
You are expected to clean just after you have used things (kitchenware, bathroom facilities...), to keep your room clean and tidy and to collaborate with the general cleaning of the household (sweeping, dusting etc...).
You have all the evenings and weekends free. This is an amazingly beautiful area in Asturias, the north coast of Spain, lush and green all year round, with mountains, beaches, rivers and paths within 10km around the house. On your time off you have plenty to enjoy and watch just by riding a bike up and down rolling hills (there's a couple of shops in the village that hire bikes). Vallina is an amazing prehistoric beach just 2km from home down a beautiful path. There are also bars and restaurants and shops where you can meet the locals and have nice Asturian home-made food and drinks. There are busses and trains that connect this area with the main 3 cities in Asturias (Oviedo, Gijón and Aviles at 45 and 30 min coach journey respectively) with lot of historic and cultural entertainment all year round.

About the host

Ana (51)

Host since



English, Spanish

Last seen online

more than 6 month ago

My name is Ana. I am a dancer, yoga teacher, acupuncturist, wool- spinner and plant-dyer and gardener. I live in Oviñana, Asturias, in the north coast of Spain. I live with my partner Javi and our 5 dogs, Mira, Uno, Dos, Tres and Cuatro and our 6 cats Petsi, Tica, Bolinche, Mapache, Gatito and Bolingue.
Every year I collect wool from the sheep of my neighbours. As nobody works with wool anymore, local farmers throw it away or burn it to get rid of it. I collect this wool and turn it into yarn. I wash it in the nearby rivers, card it (a process that “combs” the fleece, so as to speak), spin it using my spinning wheel and dye it with beautiful colours using natural dyes from my garden and also from wild plants. Then I knit it and make different garments that I sell at fairs and markets. In the organic plot I grow veg, medicinal herbs I make oils and tinctures with and dye plants to colour the yarns. You can come to our house as a volunteer to work with the organic plot and the wool for two weeks in exchange for bed and veggie food.
At the moment I am joining forces with Raquel and we are creating Be Baa, a label to sell our organic wool products and designs over the internet. The idea is to hire local people who would like to learn to spin, dye and knit our designs and bring back to life a hand-made industry which respects nature and its cycles.

Project dates

Open for offers, contact us

Work to be done

  • gardening
  • maintenance tasks
  • eco projects

Expected workhours

  • 5 hours a day
  • 5 days a week

Work exchange deal

  • private room

The house is an old “labour” house. It has two rooms, a living room, kitchen shared with the cats and the dogs, a vintage bathroom, a sound studio, a wool workshop and a yoga room where I teach and give acupuncture sessions.
Your bedroom is small but it has a very comfortable king-sized bed suitable also for a couple. Bed linen and towels are provided. There is internet connection that you can use and a computer in the living should you need to use it.

  • self catering

Food is vegetarian, with plenty of veg (many from our organic garden if they are ready and others from a nearby organic farm), free-range eggs from our neighbours, plenty of seeds, cereals, seaweeds and super-foods. This is a fishing and farming area so there are plenty of affordable restaurants with fresh fish and meat for your dietary needs. Dinner tends to be the only meal that we have together, the rest of the day we basically eat when we are hungry or need a break from work

  • no money is involved