In the Dye Studio: How to Host a Natural Dyeing Party (Part 1)

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 06, 2018 0 Comments

In our newsletter this month, we announced the 1st AVFKW Dye Day, coming up on Saturday, August 25th! August 25th is two and a half weeks out - so it's time to start planning! 

We want to help you plan a unique and fun natural dyeing party with your friends. Kristine, Adrienne, and I have been teaching natural dyeing classes at home and abroad for over 10 years, so we have a lot of experience and tricks for hosting a successful event. Unless you have been stocking up, or have a regular dye practice, you will probably need to gather some supplies and materials ahead of time - so let’s get started now!

Your guide throughout this process, other than these blog posts, is our book The Modern Natural Dyer. MND (as we call it) was published in October 2015 and is a great resource for new and experienced dyers. I use it as a reference in the dye studio at least once every week! If you don't have a copy yet, you can purchase a signed copy (including a naturally dyed bookmark) from our website here.

We stock all the scours, mordants, dyes, indigo suppliesdyeable fabric, and yarn that you'll need to get your party started! Check the end of this post for a discount you can use when you purchase natural dyeing supplies from us - including your copy of MND.

The two types of dyeing that we think work best in a group setting like a dye party are eco-printing and indigo dyeing. These two processes are pretty different from one another and require different tools, materials, and preparation. I'll help you pick which type of dyeing you'd like to host (maybe you want to do both!) and make sure you have all the tools and information you need. This blog post overs eco-printing - click here to read the indigo post. 

Eco-printing is the process of pressing whole dyestuffs, like flower petals and leaves, into fabric, bundling the fabric tightly together, and heating it in a dye pot. Your fabric must be scoured and mordanted before applying your dyestuffs, and you'll want to make sure you are using some plants that are listed in MND (like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis) that give good color and are lightfast. 

Eco-printing works well with a wide range of fabrics, from light weight wovens to jersey to heavier flannels, and any natural fiber type including wool, silk, cotton, and linen. It's great for small to large projects - you could dye fabric to make the sewing kit from MND (page 79), a project bag for your knitting, or an Endless Summer Tunic.

To host an eco-printing party, you'll need your dyestuffs (you can grow these, purchase from a nursery, or carefully forage for them), dowels or branches, strong thread, and a medium-sized pot to hold the bundles from each of your party-goers. You'll also need a heat source (like your kitchen stove or a propane burner in your backyard). Your attendees will need to scour and mordant their chosen fabric ahead of time. Tell your friends to scour at least 2 days in advance and to mordant at least 1 day in advance - so they arrive at your dye party ready to go. They can easily dry their fabric out to make transportation easier.

Once your supplies are gathered and your friends have arrived, follow the directions for the Flowers At My Fingertips Sewing Kit (page 79). After everyone has carefully unwrapped their bundles, do a little show and tell so everyone can see what was made!

Eco-printing supplies to gather:
+ Fresh flowers like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis
+ Dowels, PVC pipe, or sticks, approx 1-2" in diameter, 1 per person per fabric
+ Medium to large pot (20 qt should fit approx 8-10 bundles)
+ Button and craft thread, or other strong cotton string
+ Tongs, rubber gloves

Eco-printing homework for attendees:
+ Scour your fabric at least 2 days in advance and mordant at least 1 day in advance before the party (see MND pages 56-59)
+ Bring some flowers, leaves, or other plant material from your garden

Eco-printing tips and tricks:
+ We recommend that 80% of the dyestuffs you are using are plants that you know produce color on cloth. Experimenting with a few plants from your garden can be a lot of fun but this helps avoid disappointment when you unwrap your bundle.
+ If your friends are dyeing similar looking fabrics, tie a small piece of colored thread around your fabric (or embroider initials) in order to tell them apart
+ Be careful when unwrapping your bundles - even if they feel cool to touch on the outside, they may be hot inside! Have a couple buckets of cold water on hand to rinse and cool your bundles before opening.
+ If you wish you had more color on your fabric, don't despair - you can put fresh flowers down, retie your bundle, and pop it back in the pot again!

To be continued in Part 2 ... click here to read about hosting an indigo party.

Use the hashtag #AVFKWDyeDay on your IG photos on August 25th to see people around the country hosting their own dye party! We also have a brand new hashtag for IG photos of in process and finished objects using materials you have purchased at AVFKW. Tag your photos with #Verbalong, and be eligible to win a gift in our monthly drawing!

Do you need help selecting the appropriate scours, mordants, and dyes? Give us a call at 510-595-8372 or email info (at) averbforkeepingwarm (dot) com and we'll help you out.

To celebrate and prepare for the upcoming dye day, we are offering 15% off natural dyes, kits, The Modern Natural Dyer, and more. Enter AVFKWDyeDay at checkout to receive your discount.

-- Sarah

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Flock / 1st Edition : From Sheep to Shelf

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 31, 2015 2 Comments

I learned to spin in 2002 - and instantly became obsessed with the idea of combining fiber types when making yarn. My first goal was to learn about the properties of each type of wool. Feeling confident that I knew the main differences between an Icelandic fleece and a Targhee fleece, I found myself looking at the various strengths - or weaknesses - and looking to pair fibers.

We have decided to create a line of yarn called Flock - which indicates that we have combined either fleece from various farms and / or fleece from various types of sheep or types of animals. Today, we are releasing our 1st edition of Flock, our newest California wool yarn.

Flock / 1sr Edition is constructed of one strand of spun wool - this is referred to as a single. This has always been one of my favorite kinds of yarn to spin and to knit. I adore the rustic quality.

This yarn has quite a tale to tell - starting back in 2012. Sue Reuser, a renowned Cormo sheep farmer, living just outside Chico, had a stroke. Sue had been raising Cormo for many years. She paid great attention to her sheep, only breeding those with the best attributes of strong body, wool, and mind. She raised Cormo sheep in a multitude of colors. Her award winning fleeces were highly sought after by spinners. While she had a positive recovery, Sue decided that her time had come to sell her farm and her sheep. I had quite a few fleeces from Sue which I was hand-spinning (ahem, coveting). I decided to purchase a large quantity of white fleeces from her with the idea of milling them into yarn for Verb.

Then, in 2013, I began to work with Matt Gilbert, a local shearer, and the person who is working to start Mendocino Wool Mill. Through Matt, I was able to purchase Targhee from a Mendocino County wool grower. In 2014, Matt connected me with a farmer, named Leigh, who loves animals - and has quite a collection - including the Corriedale used in this yarn. Sarah went on quite an adventure to get this wool. When shearing season comes around, we like to say that things becomes very alive - in other words - chaotic (though now with more perspective, and having continued to work with nature and the earth this Summer, I think anytime when working this closely with nature, life tends to be rather edgy - more on that soon).

I had planned to go with Matt to shear Leigh’s sheep. Matt shears, and we skirt (remove all the poopy bits / wool that is too short to be milled into yarn). One thing led to another, and when the shearing date came, it landed on a day in which I was going to be out of town. So Sarah bravely volunteered her time to travel to Cloverdale and skirt with Matt.

Leigh’s sheep are more like pets than livestock. She doesn’t like to shear her sheep because she thinks it is stressful for them. Yes, the sheep do bleat while waiting to be shorn. That said, the sheep, once they have received their annual haircut, jump out of the pen, and go right back to grazing. If I were to project onto the sheep what I think they could be feeling - I would have to say, in 100 degree weather, hardly a tree in sight, the sheep feel better without 12 pounds of wool. Needless to say, Leigh had not shorn her sheep in over a year and a half, so their wool was quite long. Leigh’s barn is not set up for organizing the sheep into a line for shearing, so it was quite an adventure to catch the sheep to lead them to the shearing station. Sarah and Matt persisted. When you look at Flock, that beautiful line of grey running through the yarn is from Leigh’s pretty, naturally colored sheep

In 2014, I was very occupied writing my upcoming book, The Modern Natural Dyer, dreaming about the yarn I could make when the book was completed. Writing a book was so exciting, yet I had no idea how many things had to be put on hold to fulfill that monumental project. So, once the final manuscript was submitted to my publisher, with photos. I began to wade through this large amount of wool I had amassed, and began to contemplate what to do with it.

Looming in the wings, I had promised Verb’s yarn club, Pro-Verbial, I would mill a yarn for them, and I needed to come through on my promise. That was my first priority. Because the designs created for Pro-Verbial (subscriptions opened today for Year 6!) are focused upon shawls and wraps, I knew I wanted to mill something a bit finer; lace-weight, fingering-weight, or sport-weight. I analyzed using only one of the wools for this yarn. But then began to think how beautiful it would be to combine these various wools into one yarn. The Cormo is exquisitely soft, though can be prone to pills since the fleece is so fine, the targhee picks up dye nicely, is a great middle-of-the-road fleece, soft but not so fine that it is hard to mill, and the corriedale, which can be a bit toothy at times, which the cormo would help balance, was shades of beautiful brown and grey.

We have had a great experience working with Green Mountain Spinnery, so we decided to send it to them to have the yarn milled. Though first before the wool could be sent to Green Mountain Spinnery, it had to be packaged. The only wool we have worked with from farm to finished yarn - is Sally’s wool for our line of yarn named Horizon. At Sally’s we had put the wool into cardboard containers, strapped these to pallets, and shipped them from Sally’s farm. This is the first time we needed to figure out how to get 350 pounds of wool packed. We began to brainstorm. And remembered meeting a man, named Joe Pozzi, at Fibershed’s first Fine Wool Symposium. He was on the panel there. And his flock is over one thousand heads. Most of his wool is used for wool felt, batting for comforters, and the like, as it has a bit too much tooth for knitting sweaters. We decided to give him a call to learn what he does with his wool. And guess what? He did! He has a motorized wool baler. Usually the wool baler is out, sometimes for months with the shearing team, though it just so happened that it was dropped off at his western Sonoma county barn. He graciously invited us to bring our wool and have it baled. His baler is from New Zealand.

Side Note: Upon researching balers we came across a collection of amazing videos.

This first one - about 2 minutes in - watch two women get to work on creating a wool bale by hand. Tough stuff! 

Then, we came to learn about a competition in New Zealand called the Golden Shears. Here's a video of women in a shearing competition with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cindi Lauper playing in the background.

Back to this story --> So now we had our wool packed hard into a very large tyvek envelope. Joe, using a pair of very sharp hooks fit over his hands - which are usually used to move straw bales - rolled the bale into Adrienne's pickup truck.

We were so excited - cruising down the road - where we made a pit stop at the beach before heading home. Just me, Adrienne, Cleo, Callie, and our bale of wool.

So now it was time to ship the bale. And we quickly ran into a know, we are really used to weighing pretty small quantities of yarn - or dye - in the shop - things more in the range of 1 pound, maybe 10 pounds. Well, something we did not think about was how on earth we were going to weigh this bale in order to ship it! Moreover, how were we going to get the bale out of Adrienne's truck, onto a scale, and then back onto Adrienne's truck.

We drove over to West Oakland, near the Port, amidst the semi-trucks hauling containers, we drove onto the scale. From researching on the internet of what Adrienne's truck might weight, and what we guessed the weight as from our invoices for the wool, we were able to schedule the pick-up for the wool for the next day. The truck showed up - and we rolled the bale into the trailer. We waved goodbye - hoping that it would make it safely to Vermont. Then, Adrienne jumped back into her truck to have it weighed so we could double check our numbers. Now, we have the weight of her truck on file!

About 2 months later, we received our new yarn. It was as beautiful as imagined. As always Green Mountain Spinnery did a lovely job. We began the process of scouring, mordanting, and dyeing the yarn.

One of the most compelling parts of this yarn, is the way the natural, brown-silver wool appears every so often, almost like a grey vein running through white granite. As a natural dyer, I adore overdyeing natural colored fleece because of the depth and nuances it adds to the naturally dyed color. This yarn is 300 yards to 50 grams, making a lightweight yarn which can be knit into a variety of things from wraps to lightweight sweaters.

It has been so exciting to see this yarn come to life! I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think! You can find Flock here.

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Holiday Stitch Exchange: Top 10 Gifts for Knitters & Knitting Enthusiasts

Posted by AVFKW Staff on December 04, 2014 0 Comments

I love the holidays.  For me, this time of year consists of pine needles, cinnamon, knitting in front of the fire, and hunting down the perfect gift for my family and friends.  When Kristine invited me to curate this list I had no trouble picking out an assortment of notions, patterns, & projects from my favorites here at Verb.  This list is sure to give you great gift ideas for the fiber-lovers in your life, yourself included!

The first two items on my list go hand in hand.  Knitter's Block by Cocoknits consists of 9 (small) or 18 (large), 12" foam blockers that piece together like a puzzle for ultimate finishing versatility.  The kit includes the foam blockers, a tin of pins, a 100% cotton pressing cloth, and instructions all put together in a reusable bag!  Combine that with any scent of Verb's favorite wool wash, Eucalan, and you've got a kit together that will help block shawls, sweaters, and the like!  And for your friend who mentions wanting to knit every time they see you working on a project, our Knitting 101 Kit is perfect.  Quince & Co. Puffin, needles, and our Easy Garter Mitts pattern is the perfect inspiration to get your friend started.  Include my favorite beginning technique book, The Stitch Encyclopedia of Knitting, and you've got a perfect introduction kit!

If you're looking wrap up some FOs under the tree or beside the menorah this year, Kristine's Wayzata hat is perfect.  Knit with Malabrigo Rasta, this classic ear flap hat is great for kids & adults alike, a fun, quick knit, and as much a novelty as it is practical.  And speaking of novelties, we have a new yarn from Finland called Fat & Sassy.  It gets 3 stitches for 4 inches... and think about that!  That's a big stitch!  So whether you need a fast knit or a hilarious present, Fat & Sassy is your answer.  And Verb is excited to announce that we're now carrying Knitter's Graph Paper Journal by local Bay Area artist Narangkar Glover. This is a great gift for anyone who does knitwear design or enjoys personalizing color work charts.

Madder is a brand new collection of patterns by Carrie Bostick Hoge. The patterns focus on four unique stitch patterns and are knit with Quince & Co. yarns.  The book has beautiful photography, clear instruction, and a wonderful philosophy I would love to give or receive.  Project bags are a go to for me whether or not my gift recipient is a knitter or not.  They can be used to hold many things: projects, toiletries, gifts!  Jen Hewett's bags are screen printed by hand in her San Francisco studio on beautiful linen and are closed up with a zipper.  When I'm working on a beautiful knitting project, I know having somewhere beautiful to keep it makes all the difference.  ;)  And last, but most  certainly not least, I have Ysolda Teague's Marin shawl knit out of our yarn, Annapurna.  Only taking one skein, this shawl is a pleasure to make and will stop people in their tracks. The yarn is naturally dyed in our in-house dye studio, boasts of a fiber content consisting of 80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, & 10% nylon.  It's a delight to work with and combination of yarn and pattern will make any knitter in your life extremely happy.

So, without further ado...

Top 10 Gifts for Knitters & Knitting Enthusiasts

1. Knitter's Block by Cocoknits

2. Eucalan

3. Knitting 101 Kit

4. Stitch Encyclopedia of Knitting

5. Malabrigo Rasta + Wayzata Hat Pattern

6. Fat & Sassy Merino

7. Knitter's Graph Paper Journal

8. Madder by Carrie Bostick Hoge

9. Project Bags by Jen Hewett

10. A Verb For Keeping Warm's naturally dyed yarn: Annapurna (enter coupon code: topknittinggifts) + Ysolda's Marin


    Today only, all of the above listed gifts are 15% off.

    To purchase these gifts, and receive the discount either stop by the shop today (open 10-6pm), call (510-595-verb), or email (info@averbforkeepingwarm). We are happy to ship!


    Happy Holidays,


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    Stitch Exchange: Pro-Verbial Yarn & Fiber Club Year 5!

    Posted by AVFKW Staff on July 30, 2014 0 Comments

    What a wonderful year it's been! This year in Pro-Verbial we've had four beautiful patterns, lots of marvelous yarn and fiber, and tons of knitting and spinning! We've seen lace, beads, beautiful edgings, versatility, and simplicity.

    Snowplants, designed by Carrie Sullivan (October 2013)

    Pavito Shawl, designed by Laura Nelkin (January 2014)

    Kika, designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (April 2014)


    Linnet Bird, designed by Bristol Ivy (July 2014)

    Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the club this year! Thank you for spinning, knitting, and wearing our shawls -- and thank you to the designers who created the patterns! 

    Now we're looking ahead to the upcoming year. We are very excited about our designers for this year! Each one is talented, creative, and has a knack for designing beautiful shawls. In no particular order, the designers are:

    Each designer will be creating a new, exclusive pattern for the club. The design will be a secret until the shipment date -- not even the Verb staff will know what it will look like! 

    To give you a sense of what's to come, here are popular patterns from our upcoming designers! 

    Aestlight, designed by Gudrun Johnston

    Annis, designed by Susanna IC

    Ume, designed by Andrea Rangel

    Dawn, designed by Grace Anna Farrow

    As you can see, each designer brings something different to the club. We will be working with each one of them to create the perfect yarn for their vision -- in terms of substance, color, and weight. In the dye studio, we are still discussing all the exciting yarn possibilities for the upcoming year - they will include brand new bases offered exclusively to club members - as well as old favorites. Click the link below for more details.

    Today the club opens its doors to new members -- and we would love for you to join us. It's going to be a fabulous year!!

    Click here to read more and sign up!

    If you have any questions, please email info (at) averbforkeepingwarm (dot) com and we will gladly help you out!

    -- Sarah

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    Stitches West 2014 - Santa Clara, CA

    Posted by Kristine Vejar on February 18, 2014 0 Comments


    It's that time of the year again!  
    The yarn has been dyed and labeled ready to hit the showroom floor.  
    This weekend we will have three booths of luxurious items waiting to go home with you.  
    We will be in the same location as last year with booth numbers 1034, 1036, 1038.  

    Patterns and Samples
    Designs by Romi will be showcasing her patterns and a new mystery shawl made with our yarns, Annapurna and Floating.  The mystery shawl pattern, yarn, bag, and shawl pin will be available as kits in limited supply, so come early to get yours!  And for those of you not able to attend, we will have a Virtual Stitches West, where you can buy the kit online!

    American Made
    This year we have dedicated a portion of our space to American made wool yarn, which includes, Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co. and AVFKW's lovely, locally grown and dyed Horizon yarn line.

    Trunk Shows! 
    Brooklyn Tweed Trunk show AND a Quince & Co. Trunk show! Wow! How can you miss that!

    Book Signing
    Special guest, Rachael Herron, will be signing and selling her new book, Cora's Heart at our booth!
    Look for her: Fri 11-4, Sat 11-6, Sun 12-4

    See You Soon!
    We always have a blast visiting with customers and sharing our new products,
    so please make time to say hello, we would love to see you!

    Here's a link to buy tickets with a discount:


    Adrienne Rodriguez

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