Changing Pioneer to Horizon

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 21, 2019 1 Comment

6 years ago, we created our first batch of our Pioneer line of yarn. This was a momentous occasion for us as it was our first farm yarn - and it was the beginning of our collaboration with textile-farmer Sally Fox. We named this yarn Pioneer due to Sally’s innovative and progressive farming practices as she practices organic and bio-dynamic farming, and her commitment to raising naturally colored wool and cotton in alignment with the health of the Earth.⁣⁣⁣
Today, we are changing the name of Pioneer to Horizon. Unfortunately, the name Pioneer is problematic and has negative colonialistic connotations that we would like to avoid and not associate with such an amazing yarn. Though originally trying to convey the innovative spirit of the farmer, the name Pioneer can be seen as a glorification of the atrocities white settlers afflicted against Native Americans.

We hold ourselves accountable for the name existing for the last six years and take full responsibility for any harm this has caused our beautiful community. We are grateful to be called in to make this name change. We believe it is a good change that was overdue. Our action of changing the name of the yarn to Horizon literally overnight, we hope reflects our commitment to marginalized communities affected by systemic racism.

We are part of an incredible community at Verb and want to be respectful of the indigenous populations within our community and beyond. We feel this is more in line with our mission statement. We hope you understand and join us in the commitment to make a more equitable industry.⁣⁣⁣

We want to humbly say that we are prone to make mistakes as any human and we are open to listening to constructive and productive criticism from marginalized communities regarding our work without anger and defensiveness. As members of marginalized communities we understand the full impact this can have and we will make every effort to be mindful and proactive to making our work as full of love and compassion as possible.
Our yarn Horizon will maintain the original integrity and quality of Pioneer with a name that embodies a more complete story illustrating our aspiration as a company to making the world better for everyone through textiles.⁣⁣⁣
We hope you will support us through this transition and update and use the hashtag #avfkwhorizon for your past and future projects.

-- Kristine, Adrienne, and Sarah

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In the Dye Studio: AVFKW Gather Yarn

Posted by Kristine Vejar on October 18, 2018 0 Comments

We are pleased to announce our newest yarn, Gather, made of 75% California Rambouillet and 25% Arizona Alpaca.

I am here today to tell you the story of how Gather came to be because I love to explore the intricacies of how things come to be, and how they are made. I mean, I love yarn, so yeah, that could be enough, right there and then, but there is so much more, why not share it? Especially because it is full of knots! And why are knots exciting, I don't know - ask any number of twisted knitters who enjoy untangling skeins of yarn.

I like things that fit nicely into neat boxes. Is that my Midwestern upbringing? Perhaps a genetic disposition - following in line with the women in my families disposition of cataloguing and organizing anything; cookbooks to bank statements (for fun). I look around the internet and see others' lives of well-organized,  structured intentions, design, their products executed beautifully, and want to cry wishing that I could do the same. Well, my story of making yarn is anything but neat and tidy. It's actually quite messy. And at some point, isn't it just better to embrace the chaos? Maybe? With the hope in the future, things will get ironed out. That with each experience we learn more, and we adapt, grow, and design.

Perhaps one day my mind's eye will land here on planet Earth. If so, here is what it would look like: a collection of yarns made from local wool, local dyes, and milled locally. To have a yarn which supports local farms, has a low carbon footprint, and is a yarn people want to knit with.

Instead let's look at our current reality:

Horizon, our first farm yarn is made from organic Merino wool raised by Sally Fox, about 90 miles away. Flock is sometimes made of Sally's wool. And sometimes it is made of wool grown about 100 miles away from here in Boonville. All of this wool is shipped to Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont where it is milled organically into yarn, and then shipped back to us to be sold in either its natural state or naturally-dyed in our studio, and then placed on the sale floor where you buy it, and then make it into beautiful blankets, sweaters, scarves, and so forth. We buy wool locally to support local farmers, so they can keep farming, but also wanting to keep our carbon footprint low...except the wool is traveling across the country. And back. But. Sally grows organic cotton on the same land which supports her sheep. And there she is sequestering a great amount of carbon due to the deep roots of the cotton. So does that make up for the transportation? And we love Green Mountain Spinnery, and want to continue to support that. Oy! So in this case, we can check off the box of sourcing locally-grown wool and supporting our local farmers, we can definitely check the box of people liking to knit with it (thank goodness!), but the carbon footprint....eeeeh, kinda sorta but not ideal.

I am always poking around exploring possibilities of other mills who could make out yarn, and who are closer to us. My friend Mary, who is the owner of Twirl yarn, suggested I meet with the Rob and Donna who own Mystic Pines Mill in Northern Arizona. Last June, I was headed to Flagstaff to give a keynote speech at their wool festival. I flew in a couple days early so I could visit the mill.

Rob and Donna gave Adrienne and I a tour of the mill. As we walked around the property, Rob explained that when they decided to live in this rural, high-desert area, it was cost-prohibitive to drill a well. So they decided to install a large water tank in the ground, to build their house on top of it, and to make their house a large water catchment. Off of their roof, they collect the water which heats their house, is used in their bathrooms, etc. From there, the water goes into another storage tank, and is then used at the mill to wash wool. I was (and still am) so impressed with the way they cohabitate with the environment. Part of our tour included visiting their alpaca, I always love hearing their sweet cooing purrs. Walking into the mill, it was filled with vintage equipment Rob has collected and sourced from around the US. We had a lovely time and begin thinking about how to incorporate Mystic Pines into our work at Verb.

About 4 months later, we purchased a very large amount of Rambouillet wool from Lani Estill and had it sent to Mystic Pines for milling into yarn. Our intention was to create a new batch of our farm yarn, Range. However, there was a hiccup in the marketplace, and we decided to forgo creating this yarn again, and discontinued it instead. We also at this time had the idea to create a new version of our yarns Even Tinier Annapurna and Annapurna. Currently, these yarns are made from imported materials and milled in Canada. The samples we received of these yarns are beautiful, though, the hand is very different, and I have a hard time believing the customer who is drawn to knit with Annapurna would want to knit with this new yarn instead. Ok, back to the drawing board.

One day, I was sitting here in the studio - and it dawned on me - what if we were to create a yarn combining the Rambouillet wool with Rob and Donna's alpaca. I sent over an email to them, and sure enough they were into the idea. So we set out on creating 4 natural colors. And today, we can now offer you our newest yarn, Gather.

So back to my mind's eye. How does this yarn fit within my framework of goals. The wool comes from the border of California and Nevada. I like Lani's wool because it has a beautiful hand, it is available in large quantities, it is consistent, and affordable. Also, Lani is committed to farming carbon. Lani's wool is more affordable because she raises wool on a very large scale. She sends about 10,000 pounds of wool to be processed in the South. So darn, here we are, we have California wool, are supporting a California rancher, but are sending the wool across the country. Though at least the alpaca comes from the mill, is washed and processed at the mill, and then comes here. So that's good!

Once I had Gather in my hot little hands, I couldn't wait to cast-on. A gauge swatch is the first thing I made. Starting with a size 3 needle, I knit about 4 inches, and then moved to a size 4 needle, I kept going all the way to a size 7 needle and still the fabric looked great! The Rambouillet wool creates a round yarn, with lots of bounce, and the alpaca adds softness, the range of natural colors, and a blooming halo. This yarn is incredibly versatile and can be knit at 6.5 stitches per inch for a denser fabric and up to 5 stitches per inch for a fabric with drape and flow.

Once my gauge swatch was knit, blocked, and catalogued, I moved onto looking for knitting patterns. I always try to focus on those who are currently designing for our Pro-Verbial Yarn, Fiber, & Shawl Club - so when I came across Caitlin Hunter's Glacier Park Cowl design, it seemed like a perfect fit. I used two skeins: one in lighthouse, and one in smoke. The pattern was easy to knit, and I love the finished cowl. It only took about a week of evening-time knitting to complete making it a great option as a gift for a loved one.

So this is your update as to one person's reality of processing US-based yarn in 2018. Thank you for going on this journey with all of us at Verb! You can find Gather on our website and in our Oakland shop.

-- Kristine

P.S. We are releasing our first every Fall Look-book November 1st - stay tuned for new patterns!



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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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AVFKW Dye Day Cocktail Recipe with Thea Colman

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 19, 2018 0 Comments

There's less than a week to go before the first AVFKW Dye Day and today's blog post has a bit of a different spin to it. As we developed the idea of gathering your friends and hosting a dye day, we thought - how fun would it be if we asked our dear friend Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails to create a special cocktail recipe for people to make at their parties?! 

Thea is a talented knitwear designer with a flair for designing cocktail recipes. Her patterns are all named after cocktail names, ingredients, and locales. She is known for her intricate cables and gorgeous sweaters, as well as her mouthwatering drink recipes!

We decided pomegranate would be a good starting point (as it's a natural dye as well as delicious fruit!) and let Thea take it from there. I love this recipe because with pomegranates, you dye with the rind - so using the juice for your cocktails is perfect! I can't think of anything more refreshing than a glass of this alongside a warm mid-summer dye party.

Here's what Thea says about her recipe:

Pomegranate is amazing because it goes with so many things. As I was developing this recipe, I considered... pomegranate with tea, and gin? or with bourbon? or with my new favorite thing - tea infused bourbon? Since black tea is a dye as well, it's a perfect pairing. This cocktail is pretty, tasty, easy to make, and good for a group - so don't be intimidated! Since it's been 100000000 degrees out I highly recommend pouring it over crushed ice.

To make tea infused bourbon (3-4 days ahead of serving):
+ 2 Tbsp loose Chinese black tea (Thea used Golden Sail tea from her local Asian market, in a red metal tin)
+ 1.5 cups bourbon (Thea used Four Roses Yellow Label for basic mixing bourbon)
+ jar with lid

Combine bourbon and tea in jar. Let sit on counter for 3-4 days. It's ready when you taste the bourbon and there is an essence of sweet, dark tea in there.

To make the cocktail:
+ 1 part tea infused bourbon
+ 1 part pomegranate juice (Pom is easy to find in most shops)
+ 1.5 parts lemonade (fresh, not from a sugary mix)
+ 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
+ ginger ale
+ crushed ice
+ lemon wheels
+ mint sprigs

If making 1-2 drinks, shake the tea infused bourbon, pom juice, lemonade and bitters in a jigger and strain into a glass filled about 2/3 with crushed ice. Stir. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a lemon wheel and mint sprig.

If making for a group, place bourbon, pom juice, lemonade, and bitters in a pitcher and stir vigorously. Bring pitcher out with a tray of prepared glasses - each filled 2/3 with crushed ice, and topped with a lemon wheel and mint sprig. Pour the bourbon mixture over ice at table when ready, and then top each glass with ginger ale and briefly stir before serving.

Tip: Bring an ice bucket of crushed ice out to the table as well, so people can refill their glasses with ice before pouring again.

You can use the hashtag #AVFKWDyeDay on photos of your Dye Day Cocktail as well. We'd love to see your drinks and your dyeing together! 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!

Thanks again Thea - so delicious! 


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In the Dye Studio: The Indigo + Shibori Dye Kit

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 12, 2018 0 Comments

Yesterday we spent the morning helping with the second harvest of indigo for our #avfkwindigoproject! It's so refreshing being out in the field, in this case with the fog rolling by and the birds overhead. It was a lot of work, and we have a lot of processing to do now, but it's fun to have new scenery for a day!

Today I wanted to share one of our "big" kits that work alongside The Modern Natural Dyer. We have three: the Dye Kit for Knitters, the Dye Kit for Sewists, and the Indigo + Shibori Dye Kit. Each kit has three projects from MND and includes all the materials, scours, mordants, dyes, and some of the small tools needed to complete each project. You just need a copy of the book and a few other supplies (like a pot and measuring cup) to get started.

The Indigo + Shibori Dye Kit would be great for anyone planning a natural dyeing party as part of our first AVFKW Dye Day. The kit has enough indigo to create one indigo mother - which is enough to dye the three projects in the kit and more. (If you are planning an indigo party, read our suggestions for hosting one here.) The three projects include some of my favorites from MND - and I'm not just saying that because I love indigo.

One of the most accessible indigo dyeing projects is the Waves Bandana. Start with a simple cotton bandana (the kit includes two), apply some bound resist with strong thread (which also serves to make your fabric smaller and thus easier to dye in a small vat), dip a few times in your vat, and unwrap! 

The amount of patterning and color is up to you - you can play with the placement of your binding to create bandanas that vary in color and texture. Too much white space left after you unwrap it? Grab some thread and bind it again, then dip to add more color.

The second project in the kit is the Fishbone Dress. The kit includes fabric and a printed copy of our Tendril Dress pattern (remember, to create the dress in the book you will need to have your dress sewn and scoured before you can apply the stitch resist), but you could easily apply this technique to dresses or shirts already in your closet. 

The Modern Natural Dyer will teach you how to use several sets of needles and thread to create a stitch resist across the top of the dress. Just like with the Waves Bandana, this greatly decreases the volume of fabric going into your indigo vat, and makes it easier to handle. After you've reached your desired shade in the indigo vat (remember, it will be lighter after washing and drying), undo your stitching to reveal the white underneath. The tighter you can tug your threads, the stronger your resist will be!

The last project in the book is the Snapshot Quilt. The quilt pattern is simple and forgiving, easy for a beginning quilter and relaxing for an experienced one. The variety in the dyeing is what creates the effect of the finished quilt. 

You will start with several pieces of a cotton/linen blend (remember to follow the directions in MND to pre-cut your backing piece, binding pieces, and the seven squares for the quilt front), a set of square blocks, and C-clamps (the C-clamps are not included in the kit but can be purchases at any hardware store). Depending on how you fold the fabric, and then how you apply the block and clamp, results in many different patterns after you dye them in the indigo vat. You can follow the folding and clamping patterns in MND or try some of your own!

After all your pieces of fabric are dyed, you can stack and cut them into smaller squares, then arrange as you like to create the quilt top. Dye the fabric for the back of your quilt and the binding a solid blue, then stitch it all together with embroidery floss that you can also dye.

We think this kit is perfect to get you started on your AVFKW Dye Day! We are still offering 15% off natural dyes, kits, The Modern Natural Dyer, and more - enter AVFKWDyeDay at checkout to receive your discount.

Tomorrow, on Wednesday August 15th at 12 pm Pacific, Kristine is hosting an Instagram Live session to answer any questions you have about hosting your AVFKW Dye Day! Our Instagram account is @avfkw, hope you can join us!

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.


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