Pro-Verbial Club: Nancy Marchant

Posted by Kristine Vejar on October 15, 2018 0 Comments

Are you a member of our Pro-Verbial Yarn, Fiber, & Shawl Club 2018-19?

If so, today, you are receiving your first of four shipments!

Our first design collaboration is with Nancy Marchant, largely considered The Queen of Brioche Knitting, has taken this style of knitting, experimented, and has created her own stitch patterns. This style of knitting, similar to knitting cables, is made up of a unique combination of stitches. Though the culmination of learning the technique and the vocabulary, you too can create fabric which is reversible, and very cozy, due to its squish-factor. Others who imbibe in the richness of brioche knitting include Stephen West and Andrea Mowry.

You can knit with one color while knitting brioche, however, we felt the need to take the opportunity to really stretch into brioche, so created two colors. We used madder root to create a deep orange, always one of my favorites and reminiscent of Autumn leaves. (You might recall Thai Iced Tea, a vintage Verb colorway.)  The second color is a natural creamy white named Weathered Wood.

The yarn for this shipment is Annapurna, a perennial favorite at Verb because it is soft as a bunny's ear. Well, this Summer we made it even softer. Annapurna used to have 10% nylon. We took this out (yay for plastic-free yarn!) and replaced it with 10% more cashmere.

Nancy took these two colors and created Deep Swell. Please check your in-boxes for your pattern. Yarn and fiber is shipping today. So check your mailboxes in the next day or so! 

This is our 9th year having the club! We are so excited to be on this journey with you - and hope you like today's design collaboration.

-- Kristine

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Stitch Exchange: Papa Sweater + Horizon Yarn

Posted by Kristine Vejar on March 15, 2018 2 Comments

Last September, we began receiving little hints from Japanese designer, Junko Okamoto, that she may be using a Verb yarn to create a new pattern. Tiny flashes of Verb yarn began appearing on her Instagram feed. Being a huge fan of Junko's work, my eyes widened. With great anticipation and curiosity, I watched and waited for new clues. Soon enough I learned she was indeed using Verb yarn. One of my favorites, due to its local providence (Sally Fox's farm) and woolly texture, Horizon.

I am drawn to Junko's designs because of how she plays with shape - oversized, balloon-shaped, puffed sleeves. She typically throws in some texture in the form of cables (and has used them for shaping, a technique I find ingenious), or a dash of colorwork (ok, sometimes a lot of colorwork, see Twigs). So what would she make with Horizon?

Papa Sweater! Junko emailed to let us know she was in the process of designing a sweater. She told us her inspiration was a child wearing an oversized sweater. The colorwork motif would be similar to a child's scribble of flowers. All of us in the dye studio ooohd' and ahhhh'd, loving the originality of her design. I mean if you are going to design a big, oversized sweater, why not throw some flowers on it to, right? Right!

Oh! And don't let me forget to mention, as far as I have seen from her many patterns I have downloaded, she offers one size. With all of the strides we knitters and knitwear designers have taken to disassemble and reassemble sweaters, and to debate with great fervor over what is the best way to knit a sweater for the best fit for your body type, I find this one size approach, which is essentially a blanket for your body, a welcome respite. No need to deliberate over which size I am! I get to focus on the yarn, swatch, and cast-on.

Since the release of this pattern, many people have asked me how difficult this sweater is to make, in terms of the colorwork. My understanding is that a lot of people are drawn to try colorwork for the first time, which is really exciting! The fact that this sweater only comes in one size plays in the knitter's favor in terms of colorwork. Because, if your gauge is off (a bit, and yes, you must do a swatch), it is not going to throw the fit of your sweater off. Whereas, if you are knitting a traditional Icelandic sweater, where the colorwork is typically in the yoke of the sweater, if your row gauge is off, at all, your yoke will be too long, and honestly, it will look strange. The fit will be off. The same is true if you make a colorwork hat or mittens (or god help us, socks), your stitch and row gauge must be absolutely accurate.

Fair enough, correct gauge when knitting colorwork is an absolute worthy goal. That said, when knitting colorwork, there are other techniques to perfect like making a beautiful fabric. So as you may know, when knitting colorwork, you are knitting with two strands of yarn. I knit with the yarn which I want to show up most clearly in my left hand, and the color which I want to fade into the background, with my right hand. I usually knit (a bastardized version of) continental, so it takes me a minute to adjust to using my right hand to knit. So just right there, a skill to practice and perfect.

Next skill: Managing your tension which knitting colorwork. When you are knitting with one of the yarns, you are carrying the other yarn with you, this yarn, as it lies behind the fabric, is called a float. It is important that your float mirrors the tension of the fabric you create when knitting. Otherwise, if you are pulling the float tightly on the backside of the sweater, the fabric on the front-side cannot block flat, and will pucker. Wool is stretchy - but not that stretchy. Some people say to carry your float loosely. Maybe. What I find most useful is to while I am knitting, when I get to a point where I am going to use the yarn in my left hand (in this case, the yarn I am using to knit the flower) to unbunch the fabric on my needle, so the fabric is relaxed and flat, I make sure my float's tension matches the same length as the fabric I have just knit. If anything, allow the float to be a little too loose. But matching is better. At first, I go slowly, and watch my tension in this way, then I find, once I get into the rhythm, I can just knit without doing that. However, I will every so often, stop, and check-in to make sure I haven't begun gathering my floats too tightly. ("Oh yeah, I am in the process of knitting! Not just zooming through to be able to wear the Papa - but I so badly just want to wear Papa - ok well then you are going to have a puckered Papa. Ok, fine I will slow down." This is basically the conversation in my head when I am knitting colorwork.)

Long floats. Papa does indeed have some long floats - in other words - long spaces between lines of the flowers. This tutorial and commentary on colorwork (aka stranded knitting) changed my life in the best way possible. One invaluable thing it taught me was how to catch my floats while knitting which makes long floats bearable. Yes! Read it over, I swear there are many good lessons. 

It helps that Horizon is forgiving due to its woolly texture. It nicely fills in little gaps here and there, between your knit stitches, creating solid fabric. Plus, it is made from really cute sheep, who are grow a myriad of colorful fleece. I like thinking about them while I knit.

Kits for the Papa Sweater are available here.

Let me know if you have any questions!

- Kristine

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Stitch Exchange: Evening Fog Cowl Pattern

Posted by Kristine Vejar on September 29, 2016 1 Comment

It's that time of year - when the fog rolls in a little bit earlier every day and lingers in the morning - creating a slight chill in the air. While it would be lovely to stay in bed under the covers, drinking tea, and reading a book, sometimes the world demands our attention and we must venture out. Bring a bit of your home's warmth with you, and wrap yourself in a woolly squishy cowl like this one: The Evening Fog Cowl. This cowl is extra big. You can either wear it tossed once around your neck. Or you can wrap it around your neck twice and get that extra cozy feeling.

The yarn used in this cowl is called Big Sky. You might recall a few years ago, we traveled to Montana to meet the farmer who raises this wool and to visit the sheep. It was an extraordinary trip. I am so happy to have this yarn as a memento and to carry a bit of that journey with me as I wear this cowl. This yarn is woollen spun. There are only two mills left in North America which have the capacity to make yarn like this. So while it is thick it is also light and warm.

This cowl is easy to make - and fast! A great project to make for yourself and for your friends!

56" circumference x 12.5" tall

7 stitches and 15 rows = 4", in seed stitch

A Verb for Keeping Warm Big Sky (100% Montana Targhee wool; 160 yards [100 g])

Color A: Zinc or color of your choice, 1 skein
Color B: Barnacle or color of your choice, 1 skein

One 24" circular needle size US 15

Darning needle

With Color A, using long-tail method, cast on 97 stitches.

Begin seed stitch pattern:
Rnd 1: (K1, P1) to last stitch, K1
Rnd 2: (P1, K1) to last stitch, P1

Continue in seed stitch until you have used half of Color A (approximately 11 rounds, ending with Rnd 1).

Rnd 12: With Color B, (P1, K1) to last stitch, P1
Rnd 13: With Color A, (K1, P1) to last stitch, K1

Continue in seed stitch, switching colors each round, until you are out of Color A (approximately 28 rounds).

Continue working in seed stitch in Color B, until you are almost out of Color B (approximately 11 rounds).

Bind-off loosely or use Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Sewn Bind-Off for a nice clean effect.

Weave in ends, block lightly.


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Stitch Exchange: Simpatico Wrap Knitting Pattern

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 31, 2016 2 Comments

There is a common theme in my life. I fall in love with a skein of yarn that is one of many things: soft, shiny, a color I find irresistible, and / or from a special farm. I want this yarn to come home with me. And I want to knit this yarn and to wear it (immediately). Though, let's be honest, I am also a little brain-dead at night from working all day. I want to knit something simple - I want the focus to be on the yarn as I knit, not so much on the pattern. I want something that's not going to take a ton of time, because I want to get to the wearing part of the knitting experience. I want to feel that gorgeous skein of yarn around my neck. Taking all of this into account, I designed a new wrap, shawl, bandana thing-y! 

Announcing Verb's newest knitting pattern; the Simpatico Wrap. It's a large swathe of fabric (depending on the size you choose to knit) that can effortlessly wrap around your neck and shoulders. The Simpatico Wrap is the perfect vehicle to use a wide range of yarns - anything from a lace weight to DK weight - from silk to wool to linen. Use two different yarns to create contrast with color, texture, fiber type, etc. Use two colors of the same yarn, two yarns of the same color - or both!

The Simpatico Wrap is knit on the bias, creating a fabric which elegantly drapes around your neck and shoulders. Knitting fabric on the bias is easy and adds a little oomph to the knitting process. While we want this knit to be easy, we don't want it to be boring. Plus, you start with one stitch and end with two stitches, so casting on and binding off are easy.

Though this pattern is simple, there is a twist. Once you have knit through your first skein of yarn (or until your desired width), you switch to your second skein of yarn and start purling. So, when you go to wear your new Simpatico, when you fold the square in half to wrap it around your neck, not only do you have an extra-thick luxurious fabric, both ends peeking out will be the knit-side of the fabric. Tres chic!

We have a brand new yarn, named Dress Circle. It is made of US wool and silk and milled in Maine. This is our 5th US made yarn! The Simpatico Wrap gave us the perfect opportunity to get this yarn on the needles. Sarah chose to go with more contrast, and chose Dress Circle in Indigo Blue Sky paired with Floating (alpaca, silk, cashmere) in Quartz.

For this pinky-peach version of the Simpatico, I used Verb's Even Tinier Annapurna in Early Girl and Floating in Petroglyph. I really liked knitting with the Early Girl as there are little pops of color as I knit. That said, I typically like to wear solid, subdued colors, so I chose Floating in Petroglyph to pair with Early Girl. Another reason I really like this pattern is because I can get a little wild with a variegated yarn but keep it calm by pairing it with a solid.

Sometimes, I like to wear my Square Wrap casually tossed and knotted around my neck. Other times, when it is a bit chillier out, I pull the ends in close to my neck and secure with one of my favorite pins - like the one shown below - from Fog Linen.

We have created a selection of kits including yarn - including all of the yarn shown in the above examples. Click here to see the beautiful array of yarn and colors!

And go here to add this pattern to your queue on Ravelry.


Small (Medium, Large)

Finished Measurements
31"x 31" (35"x35", 40"x40")


Small (lavender): Yarn A - Alchemy Yarns Silken Straw (100% silk; 236 yards / 40g), Fieldstone or color of your choice, 1 skein, & Yarn B - Alchemy Yarns Lust (70% wool, 30% silk; 288 yards / 53 g), Fieldstone or color of your choice, 1 skein

Medium (blue/silver): Yarn A - A Verb for Keeping Warm Dress Circle (70% US Merino, 30% mulberry silk; 390 yards / 100 g), Indigo Blue Sky or color of your choice, 1 sk, & Yarn B - A Verb for Keeping Warm Floating (70% superfine alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere; 437 yards / 100 g), Quartz or color of your choice, 1 skein

Large (peach): Yarn A - A Verb for Keeping Warm Floating (70% superfine alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere; 437 yards / 100 g), Petroglyph or color of your choice, 1 skein, & Yarn B - A Verb for Keeping Warm Even Tinier Annapurna (80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 565 yards / 4 oz), Early Girl or color of your choice, 1 skein

One US 8 (5.0 mm) 24in or 32in circular needle

16 stitches and 28 rows / 4" in stockinette stitch (blocked)

tapestry needle

KFB - Knit front and back of stitch
K – Knit
P – Purl 
M1R - Make 1 right
M1L - Make 1 left
K2TOG - Knit 2 together
SSK - Slip slip knit 

PRO TIP: If you are using two different yarns, be sure to cast on with the yarn with the least amount of yardage so you don't run out!


With yarn A, cast on 1.

Row 1: KFB. (2 st)
Row 2: KFB, KFB. (4 st)
Row 3: K1, P until 1 stitch remains, K1.
Row 4: K1, M1R, K until 1 stitch remains, M1L, K1.

Repeat Rows 3 & 4 until your desired size or are about to run out of yarn. (The three sizes measured approximately 38.5"(44.5", 50") along the diagonal).

End with Row 4 (an increase row). 

Break yarn A.

Switch to yarn B:

Row 1: K1, K2TOG, K until 3 st remain, SSK, K1.
Row 2: K1, P until 1 stitch remains, K1.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until 4 st remain. 

Row 3: K2TOG, SSK. (2 st)

Bind-off knit-wise.

Weave in ends and block to designated measurements, using blocking wires if desired. Tips on blocking without blocking wires: Lay your Square Wrap flat on your blocking surface. Fold in half diagonally, along where Yarn A changes to Yarn B. Starting at the cast-on and bind-off points, gently pull the fabric apart to create a right angle (rather than an elongated point). Continue to gently pull along the both sides of the triangle until you reach the fold. Repeat as necessary. Unfold shawl and smooth out any uneven sides.


Post your photo to Instagram and add #verbsimpatico so we can see your progress and completed wrap!

Happy Knitting!

-- Kristine

-- Kristine SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave


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The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Sandstone Shawl

Posted by Kristine Vejar on March 08, 2016 1 Comment

For the month of March, as part of The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along, we are focusing on the Sandstone Shawl.

When setting out the lessons I wanted to teach through The Modern Natural Dyer, I designed the Sandstone Shawl to demonstrate the four following principles:

1. Demonstrate how fibers made by different animals take dye differently.
To make the Sandstone Shawl pattern, I ask for three types of yarn: Malabrigo Rios (100% Superwash Merino), Blue Sky Alpaca Sport (100% Alpaca), and Shibui Silk Cloud (50% Mohair / 50% Silk). These are all protein-based fibers. So though they are scoured and mordanted, for all extents and purpose the same, though as you can see from the list - there is quite a range of protein-based fiber types. Each of these types of fiber, for instance if it from a goat rather than a sheep, will interface differently with the dye, and the resulting color will be affected. So, from our previous discussions, we know that protein-based fibers are different than cellulose-based fibers, and due to that fact, the scouring, mordanting, and dyeing processes are different. Though as we get to know the different types of fiber better, we get to understand how each of the types of fiber respond and react to the dye. To learn more about this, you can read the chapter in The Modern Natural Dyer titled Choosing Fiber. In the case of the Sandstone Shawl, we add the yarns made of various fibers in timed increments into the warm dyepot which does affect the dyed color, that said, even if you were to add them in all at once, you would still achieve a range of colors based upon fiber content.

2. Inspire exploration of combining 3+ dyes.
I wrote the Modern Natural Dyer so the projects would build upon themselves, hoping to build a foundation for those of you who want to really understand the natural dyeing practice. So in this respect, we've built up to this project, first, making making the Northwoods Hat using one dye and the shade card as our guide. Then, making green by combining two dyes, again using the shade card as our guide. Now, let's up the ante by using three dyes to create a color. In the Sandstone Shawl, I give a recommended recipe.

Here is another recipe, to make a deep red-purple, similar to the color of red wine:

1 tsp cutch
1/4 tsp madder
1/16 tsp logwood purple

If you would like to experiment and try creating your own recipes (I hope you do!), keep this in mind: Adding too much dye can change the texture of the yarn, especially wool yarn. The texture could feel brittle, dry, or rigid. I would advise that the amount of dye I used in the Sandstone Shawl's recipe is the maximum amount of dye to use before the hand of the wool will begin to shift. With this being said, combining two or three different dyes widens the color palette, and can be an endless study of possibility!

3. How to create three different shades of color from one pot.
So now, let's say that instead of using 3 different yarn, each made of different blends of fiber, as done in the Sandstone Shawl, you were to choose 3 yarns, each made of the same material - let's say they are all made of merino wool. You can create three slightly different shades of color, by introducing them into the pot at three different intervals. This principle goes hand in hand with #4.

4. Teach what it means to exhaust a dyebath, and how to do so.
In order to make a dark color, you have to use more dye. The yarn can only take so much dye, thus, there will be dye leftover in the pot. When one uses all of the dye in the pot, it is referred to as exhausting the dyebath or dyepot. In the Sandstone Shawl project, by adding skeins of yarn throughout the dyeing process, we are practicing this dyeing technique. When I achieve a color by dyeing this way, I find it hard to replicate the color. Though the color which can be achieved can be very beautiful and unique, so it is a practice I enjoy, and one I encourage home dyers to explore to discover new colors and to create a range of colors closely related to one another, so that when knit or woven can create an ombre. Plus! You have used all the dye in your pot, so nothing is going to waste. 

So from using this dyeing technique, there are three skeins of yarn, made of three different materials, weights, and colors. I knew I wanted to design something that would highlight these differences. Before I knew how to spin yarn, I was always looking to how I could create my own kind of yarn. I began holding two yarns together - typically a light fuzzy yarn, like mohair, with, well, really any other kind of yarn - ranging from laceweight silk yarn to a heavier worsted weight wool yarn. This is still a technique we use a lot in the shop to create unique knitted fabrics. So when faced with designing a piece for the book using the yarn I just dyed, I definitely knew I wanted to hold two types of yarn together, as I have done in the Sandstone Shawl. I also wanted to create a piece which highlighted the range of colors, from dark to light, achieved this dyeing style. I thought a triangular shaped shawl would be pretty and something I like to wear to the beach when it is windy. When I went to try on the sample, I just loved the way that the heavier yarn, the Rios, curled around my neck, more like a scarf than a shawl, and the very light-weight Silk Cloud, kind of floated softly, almost like how the white foam on the incoming tide sits just on the water. The way the orange-gold color formed in bands reminded my of Sandstone, hence the name.

If you are in the area, I am teaching a class dedicated to dyeing the materials for the Sandstone Shawl - and - we have quite a few opportunities coming up to knit together, it would be wonderful to see you and your progress on your Sandstone Shawl. And if you are not in the area, I love seeing your progress via Instagram.

Always remember, I wrote this book as much for the Armchair Dyer as those who are diving into the dyeing process, so please, if you do like the pattern, no matter if you did not dye your yarn, I hope you will join us on this KAL - and knit your own Sandstone Shawl - the possibilities of choices of yarn and color are endless!

-- Kristine

Tomorrow night! Join us for an evening of conversation: Slow Fashion Forum, 7pm.

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