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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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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In The Dye Studio: Preparing for Year 7 of The Pro-Verbial Club!

Posted by Kristine Vejar on September 25, 2017 2 Comments

A long time ago, like 7 years ago, we were about to embark on a new journey. We were in the process of moving from our little studio in Berkeley to our new much larger studio and store on San Pablo Avenue. We had spent the Summer working (and sometimes not working - thanks furlough!) with our contractor and the City of Oakland to build the dye studio. We were supposed to open our doors in September but it would still be two more months. In order to help fund opening the doors of our San Pablo location, I had the idea to create a yarn and fiber club and to enlist designers to create exclusive patterns. For the focus of the patterns, I chose shawls. An object that has endless possibilities when it comes to designs. And requires a finite amount of yarn, unlike sweaters.

With the help of Wonder Mike, the name Pro-Verbial was chosen for the club. Fingers crossed that this club would bring you all the positives (the pros) Verb has to bring you - my hope was to mail you a little celebration in a box four times a year - a sweet package of naturally dyed yarn and a new shawl pattern. And also, I looked at this club as a fun challenge kind of like the peak of our natural dyeing work coupled with patterns created by The Pros of the knitting world. (Nerdy! I know. But you gotta keep keep things fun! ) Stephen West, Rosemary Hill, Kristen Hanley-Cardozo, and Mary-Heather Cogar jumped on board this crazy train - and we were off and running. 

Seven years later, we are still hosting the annual Pro-Verbial Club. Now, I think of those who join the clubs as The Pros - the people who are committed to jumping in with both feet first and trying out new colorways and patterns. The designers now have a bit more license - though they are given a finite amount of yarn to work with, and the goal is to give you a pattern which can wrapped more or less around your neck, they are encouraged to explore whatever a shawl means to them at the time they are designing. So we have seen a vest from Olga and Cookie, and an asymmetrical scarf from Julie Weisenberger. (To see all the pieces designed over the years, go here.)

This year's Pro-Verbial Club features the design work of:
Norah Gaughan
Melody Hoffman of Mandarine's
Joji Locatelli
Junko Okamoto

We have a very globally diverse group! Which I believe to be indicative of where we are as knitters. Instagram is so prevalent in our daily lives - we are able to connect with those around the world who are dedicated to making. Norah is the only person living in the United States. Melody lives in Latvia. Joji lives in Argentina. (Something I did not know is that Joji cannot receive yarn in the mail from us. She must be outside of Argentina in order to get yarn.) And Junko lives in Japan.

Each designer in this year's club as an outstanding portfolio of work. As designers of this year's Pro-Verbial club, I am focusing upon making pieces using their patterns. So in order to gather my thoughts, I created a collection of some of my favorite pieces from each designer. You can find that collection here. This will you give a sense of their work and an idea of what you might expect from them when it comes to the piece which they create for the Pro-Verbial.

The pots are bubbling as we prepare for the first shipment of the 2017-18 year. October 15th all packages will be wrapped, tied with a bow, and sent out to members. You still have a few days to sign-up. October 1st is the last day. Then, we will close memberships for the year - and take flight into a year of dyeing, designing, and knitting! Join us!

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The Modern Natural Dyer Book Tour: Nashville and Japan!

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 23, 2017 0 Comments

Interested in learning about natural dyeing? My book, The Modern Natural Dyer, can guide you!

In September, I am traveling to Nashville to teach at Craft South - a shop filled to the brim with fabric, yarn, and creativity. We will spend two days together. You will learn how to extract color from whole flowers, highly concentrated plant extracts, and indigo!

Class Title: The Modern Natural Dyer: An Introduction
Location: Craft South, Nashville, TN
Dates: September 15 and 16, 2017
Click here to sign up.

Then, in November, I am teaching at Art Biotop in Nasu at the Amirisu Fall Retreat. Nasu is about an hour train ride from Tokyo and is highly regarded as a place of utmost beauty. Together, we will create fabric printed with flowers. You will learn how to create an indigo vat, dye with indigo, and how to create patterns using shibori. We will take walks, go the hot spring, and eat delicious food.

Class Title: Amirisu Retreat 2017
Location: Art Biotop Nasu
Dates: November 2-November 5
Click here to sign-up.

By attending a workshop you will be well on your way to developing your own personal practice using natural dyes, and you will see nature in a whole new way!

I am so excited to take The Modern Natural Dyer on the road, so I can work with you one-on-one, and introduce my book and natural dyeing to you in person. I hope you will join me! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

-- Kristine

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SQUAM Art Workshops June 2017: Taste of Squam

Posted by Kristine Vejar on February 01, 2017 1 Comment

Last year I had the opportunity of teaching (indigo dyeing and eco-printing) at Squam Art Workshops housed within a resort on Squam Lake in New Hampshire. This was my first time visiting New Hampshire and attending Squam Art Workshops. It was incredible.

We flew into Manchester (so sweet and little when coming from Oakland). As we drove towards Squam Lake, the roads began to narrow, from a highway, two two-lanes. I stared out the car window as we passed hundreds (maybe thousands) of lush green trees. Every now and then, there would be a break in the trees and I would see a peek of the dark blue water of a lake. As we pulled into the driveway at Squam, there was instantly a feeling of celebration and joy. Excited campers were exiting their cars, unpacking luggage, finding their cabin, and in anticipation of a weekend of making!

As a child we had family friends whose cabin we would visit in Northern Minnesota. The cabin was located on an island, make of logs, and didn't have electricity or running water. We spent our days hiking and swimming. It was divine and still is the place where my mind wanders when thinking about the happiest times in my childhood. While Squam is definitely a bit more cushy (electricity, indoor plumbing, a beautiful dining hall where delicious meals are prepared and includes a waffle bar and ice cream counter), Squam is the closest thing I have been to resembling my childhood memory of "the cabin up north".

At Squam, my cabin was located on the lake. There was a fireplace in the center of the cabin. And a wrap-around, screened-in porch looking out on the lake - with rocking chairs. Though early in the season, I jumped in the lake and went swimming. Others rented kayaks to explore the lake. One of my favorite activities while there was knitting on the dock.

I have some exciting news for you! Usually, you have to sign-up for the weekend of making in order to attend Squam Art Workshops - but this year, in celebration of Squam Art Workshop's 10 year anniversary, Elizabeth, the founder has created Taste of Squam, a mini-retreat where you can come and spend Saturday and Sunday - eating, drinking, knitting by the lake, and joining us for the Squam Art Fair on Saturday night.

Registration is now open. Click here to sign-up.

This year, I am teaching again at Squam and can hardly wait to get back to the lake. I hope you will join us!

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