In the Dye Studio: How to Host a Natural Dyeing Party (Part 2)

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 07, 2018 0 Comments

Today on the blog we're sharing tips and tricks for hosting your very own natural dyeing party. Click here to read Part 1 (eco-printing).

Next up - indigo! Indigo dyeing gives us all the shades of blue, and is a unique process compared to all other natural dyes. Every time I pull a skein of yarn or piece of fabric from the indigo vat, I am awed by the chemistry, beauty, and transformation that occurs on my fiber. With an indigo vat, it is easy to dye fabric or yarn - great if you have knitters coming to your dye day. Your attendees will have a little less prep work required compared to eco-printing, because their goods will only need to be scoured. Creating and maintaining the indigo vat on dye day takes a little more attention and work, and it can be a good idea to share the responsibility with another friend to ensure things run smoothly.

Indigo dyeing also works well on a wide range of materials. Linen fabric is my favorite to dye, as it takes the dye very beautifully and it can be easier to achieve a darker shade than with silk or cotton. This is a great opportunity to try some resist dyeing, like stitch or clamp resist, to create patterns on your fabric. This also means the size of the fabric going into your vat is smaller - great if you are working on a smaller scale. Just like with eco-printing, there's a wide range of projects you can use your fabric for: dye a small piece of fabric to create a special bag or to use in boro patchwork, or use stitch resist on a large piece of fabric to create fabric for a garment (like the Fishbone Dress, page 177).

To host an indigo dyeing party, you'll need materials and tools to create 1-3 indigo mothers, as well as supplies to keep your vat calibrated, and several buckets for dyeing and washing. We recommend having your indigo dyeing party outside. Your attendees will need to scour their fabric or yarn at least 1 day in advance. Their goods can easily be dried out to make transportation easier. 

How much dye do you need? For 12 participants, each dyeing approximately 2 yards of fabric, we prepare 3-4 mothers, and gradually add these to 3 vats made in 5-gallon buckets. The indigo recipe is on page 133 of MND - decide how many mothers you want to prepare, and multiple the amounts for each component to figure out how much to purchase. 

Once your supplies are gathered and your friends have arrived, follow the directions to make your indigo mothers (page 133) and then one of the indigo projects like the Blue Skies Tote to create your vats (page 139). Recalibrate your vats as needed throughout the day (page 136). Share your projects with your friends and share in the feeling of wanting to dye everything in your house blue!

Indigo supplies to gather:
+ Indigo, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulphite for your indigo mothers
+ Soda ash and sodium hydrosulphite to prep and recalibrate the vats
+ 1-3 quart-size canning jars
+ pH strips
+ Thermometer
+ White plastic spoon
+ Whisk
+ Rubber gloves, protective eyewear
+ 1-3 5-gallon buckets
+ Hot water - enough to fill your buckets
+ Drying rack or clothesline

Indigo homework for attendees:
+ Scour at least 1 day in advance
+ Bring supplies for resist dyeing, like clothespins, needle and strong thread, rubber bands
+ Bring rubber gloves and aprons

Indigo tips and tricks:
+ If practicing resist dyeing, add or remove areas of resist after a few dips to achieve a wider range of shades
+ Check the temperature, pH, and reduction of your vat throughout the day and follow the steps on page 136 to recalibrate if needed 

Wow! That's a lot of information. You'll still need The Modern Natural Dyer to prepare and host your dye day - you can see why we wanted to write this book! If you get stuck, review Dyeing 101 and Dyeing with Indigo to get back on track.

Next week I'll be back to discuss our larger dye kits (like the Indigo + Shibori Dye Kit) and answer any questions that arise between now and then.

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

Read More

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

Read More

Stitch Exchange: The Twigs Sweater + AVFKW Flock Yarn

Posted by Kristine Vejar on May 10, 2018 0 Comments

One day, I was cruising through the internet and was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful, curious sweater; oversized, bell-shaped, with delicate motifs. As I looked more closely, I learned the name of the sweater: The Twigs by Junko Okamoto. The moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to knit one.

ABOUT THE PATTERN: This sweater comes in one size. The main color requires 5 skeins. The contrasting color requires 2 skeins. Please purchase the pattern directly from Junko. 

A Verb for Keeping Warm Flock
100% Organic California Merino
50g / 290 yards 
fingering weight

I used 5 skeins of A Verb for Keeping Warm Flock in Grizzly Peak. For the contrast color, I used 1 skein of Granite, and 1 skein of Cumulus. I created Cumulus especially for this design as I desired a hint of indigo blue every so often. So used the skein of Cumulus intermittently. Using only intuition.

We just received a new batch of Flock - all made from farmer Sally Fox's locally-grown, organic Merino. To create your own collection of colors, please visit our page dedicated to Flock. If you would like help, please give us a call!

The original pattern calls for Moeke Yarns Elena. Due to the limited quantity of this yarn, and the fact that we are sold out of this year's batch, I went ahead and made a version out of Flock. We look forward to receiving the new batch of Moeke. If you would like to be notified of its arrival, please get in touch.

Flock is lighter weight than Moeke Elena, so I used smaller needles, and doing so made a smaller sweater. Please see my Ravelry project page for more information. 


Read More

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

Read More

Sewing 101: Make a Tote Bag

Posted by Kristine Vejar on December 10, 2017 1 Comment


Fabric. It comes in a myriad of colors, prints, and textures. But how to use it? The first step is to learn to sew. Sure, you could purchase a piece of fabric at Verb, leave the edges raw, and make an impromptu tablecloth. Though by learning to sew, you can finish the edges of your tablecloth - and even more intriguing - make shapes! By learning to sew, you can use truly stunning fabrics, those whose quality are difficult to find in most retail shops, and begin to make truly unique goods for your home, yourself, and your friends!

At Verb, those desiring to learn to sew, take a class named Sewing 101: Make a Tote Bag. Sewing a tote bag as your first project is great because it is highly useful and through the steps of learning how to sew one, you can learn the basics of sewing. Though we love when people come to class, and feel we can convey a lot more information quickly through that format, as well as give you advice unique to your skill set and sewing machine, we realize that not everyone's schedule lines up with ours, or you might find yourself located too far away. So we have decided to create a tutorial for you to teach you how to sew a tote bag. Plus, we have tote bag kits for you to make it easy for you to start the process. So let's start sewing!

Sewing 101: Learn to Sew a Tote Bag


- ½ yard of lightweight canvas fabric

- 1 ½ yards of twill tape
- 1 spool of thread

- Paper - at least 14" wide X 16" long
- Pencil
- Paper scissors
- Fabric Scissors (When sewing, you will need sharp scissors in order to cut fabric. Using scissors on paper dulls them quickly. It is best to have a pair of scissors reserved for cutting fabric only.)
Pins (preferably glass-headed, because they do not melt during pressing)
Ruler (preferably clear plastic) 
Sewing machine
- Iron and ironing board

TOOLS - OPTIONAL - though not required to complete this project, these tools are very helpful.
- Stitch gauge (helpful when measuring the seam allowance)
Marking pencil
- Seam ripper
Pin cushion
- Pattern paper

We are going to start by making a paper pattern. Take a piece of paper and using your ruler draw a 14" wide by 16" long rectangle. (Don't look at my measurements in this photo! ;) I decided a slightly larger bag was better. Which by the way, feel free to make your bag a bit larger or smaller. The same general sewing instructions will apply). The 14" wide line makes the top and bottom of the tote bag pattern. The 16" long side of the rectangle make the sides of the tote bag pattern.

Next, along the bottom left-hand and right-hand corners, draw a 1 1/2" square.

Once you have drawn squares on both lower corners, your paper pattern will look like this:

Now, you will add a few marks and lines to the top of the pattern piece. These marks will help you finish the tote bag when the time comes.

Along the top line of the pattern, measure 3 1/4" from the left side and make a mark. Do the same on the right-top side. These marks will communicate where to add the straps of your tote bag.

Draw two dotted lines, parallel to the top of the bag: measure 1/2" from the top, and draw the first dotted line. Then, do the same, 1 1/2" from the top of the pattern.

Using your paper scissors, cut out the paper pattern. Mark the pattern piece with the project name: Sewing 101: Tote Bag, the date, and an arrow as indicated in the photo below. This indicates the grainline.

 Let's talk fabric. Take out your piece of fabric.

Looking at printed fabric, there is a right-side, which is the printed side, and a wrong-side. The edges of the fabric are called the selvedge. This is woven tightly and is typically cut away when cutting out the pattern.

Fold the fabric in half, aligning the selvedges, with right-sides together.

The grainline runs parallel to the selvedge. Since the arrow indicating the grainline runs from the top of the tote bag pattern to the bottom, this means that you will place your paper pattern parallel to the selvedge.

Pin the pattern through both pieces of fabric. Using your fabric scissors, cut through both pieces of fabric at once. Cut as closely to the paper pattern as possible, without cutting the paper.

Where the marks are along the top-edge of the tote (to indicate strap placement), make a snip with your fabric scissors. This is called a notch.

Take out the pins. And set the paper aside. You now have the front and back pieces of your tote bag.

Pin, right sides together, the two pieces of fabric to each other along the left side, the right side, and the bottom. Do not pin or sew along the top of tote bag.

Optional step: For the ease of class, we do not finish the raw edges of the tote bag. Though, going forward, it is a good idea to finish your raw edges so they do unravel. You can do this by using pinking shears, by using a zigzag stitch on your machine, applying French seams, or a by using a serger.

 Now it is time to sew your tote bag! Take out your sewing machine. (If you have never used your sewing machine before, or a sewing machine before, take a few moments to google the name of your sewing machine and Youtube, where there are hundreds of videos on how-to use a sewing machine.)

The seam allowance on this pattern is ½ inch. This means you will stitch ½ inch from the cut edge of the fabric. I find it helpful to take a piece of painters tape (in this case I used a black piece of tape, you could use any low-adhesive tape) and to measure from the point at which my needle enters the fabric to the left 1/2", and place the piece of tape at this measurement. This makes it easy to see where my fabric should be when sewing in order to accomplish a 1/2 seam allowance.

Align your fabric with this mark, and start sewing around the sides and bottom of the tote bag. DO NOT sew along the squares at the bottom left-and right- hand corners (see photo below). Stop and remove pins as you come to them.  Most machines have a button you can press which makes the machine sew backwards. This is called back-tacking. At the beginning and end of your sewing, you want to back-tack a few stitches. Do this to reinforce your stitching.

 Now, we need to sew those cut squares closed. To do this, open the bag, and pinch the seams together. As shown below:


Then, aligning the center of each seam, pin through both layers. And sew, 1/2" away form the raw edge.

Now, the bottom of the bag is completely sewn.

Next, complete the top of your tote bag. Press seams along the sides open. Cut straps so each measures 27”.


Align straps at so they are placed on the outside of the notch. Pin. Make sure the straps do not have a twist in them.


To complete the top of the tote bag, though the strap and tote bag fabric are separate, treat them as if they are one, always folding them together.

Fold at first fold line on pattern. Press. Fold again, at next fold line. Press. Gently reach under and remove the pin holding the strap in. Fold back the fabric and strap into place. Fold the strap up towards the top of the bag. Then pin as seen in this photo. Repeat for the three other spots where the strap is attached to the bag.

In the next step, sew the straps to the bag and sew the folds closed. First, sew as closely as possible to the top of the bag, through the two layers of fabric and the strap. Sew all away around the bag. Do the same, sewing along as closely as possible to the bottom of the fold.


This is how the folded strap will look like once sewn. Snip all the threads, Turn the tote bag right-side out - and voila! You have a completed tote bag. Easy, right?


Want more in-depth instructions and to be more thoroughly introduced to your sewing machine? Take our Sewing 101 class with Tasa Gleason. Go here to learn more.

Read More