The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Northwoods Hat

The Northwoods Hat by Kristine Vejar

When setting out to write The Modern Natural Dyer, I wanted to create a project requiring only one skein of bulky weight yarn, weighing 100 grams. Quince & Co Puffin yarn instantly came to mind. Milled in the US, from 100% US-grown wool, its a very puffy and round, and seems like the epitome of a wool yarn. 

I wanted the yarn to weigh 100g because I planned this to be the first of three projects dedicated to teaching you how to dye with natural dyeing extracts. This is a friendly number, easy to use as a foundation upon which I would build the shade card which forms the basis of and is a key tool in learning how to create a wide spectrum of naturally dyed color. (Stay tuned for a math and natural dyeing blog post.) This means, that by using the 100g skein of yarn, you can confer with the shade card, and make any color in any shade on it, by using the named increment on the card.

I desired to design a project that uses only one skein, so it would only require a small pot in the dyeing process, making it economically efficient, knowing that for some of you, this may be your first dyeing project. I wanted to use bulky weight yarn, knowing once you dyed your yarn, and are at the knitting stage, it would work up quickly, so that you can start wearing your new, naturally-dyed project. I think it so satisfying to be able to use what you have made. One of the keys to success for people new to a craft, is to be able to finish that first project quickly.

The next question was what should I use this yarn to make. Every Winter, even though I live in the Bay Area, and it is fairly temperate, right around this time of year, as the fog lingers longer each day, and the breeze comes off the Bay, I desire a cozy, thick hat. Then, there is my Mom. She lives in the Northern Minnesota, an area lovingly referred to as the Northwoods. She sends text messages with photos of her pine-tree filled backyard covered in snow. So I thought we could both use a hat to keep warm, and decided to name it the Northwoods Hat. As I can finish knitting a Northwoods Hat in 3-4 hours, I imagined making a bunch of hats in fun, bright colors, transversing through the Winter woods, keeping the heads of my friends and family cozy warm.

So let's get onto this week's project: The Northwoods Hat.

Using a skein of Quince & Co. Puffin, this project guides you through scouring, mordanting, and dyeing with natural dyeing extracts. Then, there are knitting instructions so you can complete the hat.

A few reminders before beginning:
+ have a set of pots and tools used only for dyeing.
+ record your process, including the weight of the yarn, the weight of the scour, mordant, and dye, and develop an in-depth understanding of how to use natural dyes, and how you achieved your results.
+ you are working with wool. It can felt during the dyeing process. Read pre-cautions to take when working with wool on p.55.

If you have purchased The Northwoods Hat Kit - the scour, mordant, and dye are pre-measured for you. During the scouring portion of the process, you add all of the scour, during the mordanting part of the process, you add the mordant. Let's pause for a second in the dyeing part of the process. You have received enough dye to make the darkest shade on the Shade Card for protein-based fibers (p.96). If you would like to make a lighter shade, measure out the amount you would like to use to get the intended shade. No worries if you don't have a scale, you can use measuring spoons.

If you have purchased the MND Work-Along Phase 1 kit - or you have purchased scour, mordants, and dye a la carte, then you will measure each ingredient according to the instructions in the book. You have the choice of using measuring spoons or a scale. Just like we do in the dye studio here :)

The Northwoods Hat by Kristine Vejar

The Northwoods Hat by Kristine Vejar

The Northwoods Hat by Kristine Vejar

Lis, Sarah, and I decided to scour and mordant our yarn together. To start, each of us recorded the weight of our combined skeins of yarn in our dye journals. We then proceeded to follow the scouring and mordanting directions. When it came time to dye, we set up three hot plates in the front room of our studio, so that we could each have our own dyepot. Staying in line with what we have offered as kits, we chose from the current offerings: madder (red), weld (yellow), or logwood (purple). All three of us chose purple (which admittedly was very hard to photograph). However, we each chose three different amounts. I created the lightest shade, Sarah the medium shade, and Lis the darkest shade, which feels a bit like Goldilocks, but on we go...we used the sink in the studio to wash out the yarn, the washer to spin out excess water, and placed the yarn on a drying rack. Once dry, we each took our respective skein of yarn home to begin knitting. I believe Lis and Sarah are both knitting the Northwoods Hat. Though, I will report back once they have completed it. 

There are a lot of things you can do to personalize this project, such as: 

+ Choose which shade of color you would like to make by consulting the Shade Card for protein-based fibers.
+ Sarah put half the skein into the pot, allowed it to heat for 15 minutes, then added the second half of the skein to make an ombre dyed skein of yarn. By doing this, when knit, the knitted fabric will have more depth then dyeing it one solid shade.
+ Mary Jane Mucklestone, a prolific knitwear designer, who specializes in colorwork, divided her skein of yarn, and dyed each a different shade. She added a bit of colorwork to her Northwoods Hat.

If knitting a hat doesn't appeal to you, you could knit a cowl, which is what I decided to do. Here is a new pattern.

The Northwoods Cowl by Kristine Vejar

The Northwoods Cowl by Kristine Vejar

The Northwoods Cowl by Kristine Vejar

NEW! We have developed a second size using 2 colors - click here to see photos.

The Northwoods Cowl by Kristine Vejar
--> add it to your Ravelry queue

Small (Large)

28” circumference x 8" tall (28" circ x 15" tall)

Quince & Co. Puffin (100% American wool, 112 yards, 100g), 1 sk (2 sk)

In stockinette stitch: 11 1/2 stitches and 17 rows = 4”. 

One 24” US #11 circular
Or necessary sized needle to obtain gauge

stitch marker
tapestry needle

Using long-tail method, cast-on 84 stitches. Place marker and join in the round, being careful not to twist.

Round 1: (K1, P3). Repeat to end of round.
Repeat for a total of 8 rounds.

Round 9: (P1, K1, P2). Repeat to end of round.
Repeat for a total of 8 rounds.

Round 17: (P2, K1, P1). Repeat to end of round.
Repeat for a total of 8 rounds.

Round 25: (P3, K1). Repeat to end of round.
Repeat for a total of 8 rounds.

SMALL SIZE: Bind off, weave in ends, and block.

LARGE SIZE: Join 2nd skein and repeat Rounds 1-32. Bind off, weave in ends, and block.

Join in on the fun - The Northwoods Hat Kit -- and --  The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along Kit are available for purchase.

Scour, mordant, and natural dye are now available on our website.

Remember to tag any photos you post to Instagram about your process with #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong so we can see your results!

Tomorrow, my first Creativebug video comes out: Natural Dyeing: How to Dye Silk and Other Protein-based Fibers. This is a great way to learn how to use natural dyes!

-- Kristine