Isn’t it wonderful how the deeper we go into knitting, the more we enjoy the process (as opposed to just the products) of knitting, and the more processes we add on to that process? Most of us start out knitting yarn from a ball that we found on the shelf of a store. Over time, we start to wonder about that ball of yarn. What is the fiber? Where is it from? How is it spun? Can we spin it ourselves? How is it dyed? Can we dye it ourselves? How difficult would it be to keep a few sheep?
(No kidding. We both know people who started out knitting and ended up with sheep or goats. It’s a slippery damn slope.)
I’m no stranger to this adding-on of processes, but I seem to add on entirely new crafts–quilting, rug hooking, Alabama Chanin sewing, while resisting the siren songs of the spinning wheel and the indigo vat. I keep telling myself that those are whole new fields of skill and expertise. Other people have deep mastery of these processes, and I can support their work — by knitting its products– instead of dabbling in their worlds.
But indigo dyeing has called to me again and again. I’ve ventured as far as a day-long indigo workshop, which was totally absorbing and so satisfying. Our friend Cristina Shiffman harvests hulls from the walnut tree in her yard, and brews them into a beautiful bucket of dye. I cherish a scarf Cristina knitted from silk yarn she had dyed with logwood. This past summer, you and I witnessed the joyful toil of our fellow Shakerag Workshops participants enrolled in the weeklong natural dyeing class. Dyeing is fun, hard work, and the results are glorious. It continues to call.
Kristine Vejar’s new book The Modern Natural Dyer, taps into this urge that some of us have to roll up our sleeves, put on rubber gloves, and make a big mess in the effort to make beautiful naturally colored fibers.
The book is a comprehensive how-to for beginning natural dyers, and also has inspiring projects to make with the dyed materials, including several beautiful knitting projects. But most of all, it’s beautiful.
(This is the Indigo Wedge Cardigan, designed by Julie Weisenberger aka cocoknits. Indigoooooooo, come to meeeeee.)
The Modern Natural Dyer was the darling of the book barn at Rhinebeck this year. The buzz was palpable; people were walking around holding their copy like a baby. I think this is a testament to the passion knitters and other fiber enthusiasts have for going deeper into the processes of making our materials. All we need is inspiration and a trustworthy guide, and Kristine Vejar has provided both in this book.
Kristine and her publisher, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, have offered us a copy of the book to give away, along with the winner’s choice of one of four kits to dye and complete a project from the book:
Sock Hop (in red, yellow or purple).
Northwoods Hat (in red, yellow or purple).
Flowers at My Fingertips sewing kit.
Waves Bandana Indigo Kit.
The kits themselves (I got one–you can guess which one I chose) are lovely little capsules; they include the dyestuffs, the thing you are dyeing, the ingredients to “scour” or prepare the fiber for dyeing, gloves, a tiny whisk (can’t wait to find out what that’s for) — everything you need except the bucket.
If you’d like to be entered in the random drawing for the book and kit, go to the bottom of the blog and subscribe to our newsletter. (We haven’t sent a newsletter yet, but we will someday, and newsletters will not appear more often than once a week.)
If you’ve already subscribed to the newsletter, we thank you, and you’re already entered in the drawing. We’ll do the drawing at noon (New York time) on Wednesday, October 28, and email the winner. (The winner of last week’s drawing was Judy N. of Baltimore. Congrats, Judy!)