What George Knits – Knitting with Nature

We have a lovely selection of natural dye products, books and yarn in store at Knit with Attitude and this has inspired some natural dying of my own.

I can’t recommend highly enough the two books we stock on natural dying. These make great go to resources on the magic of nature and the variety of colours at your fingertips. The two books we have are ‘The Modern Natural Dyer’ by Kristine Vejar and ‘Botanical Colour at your Fingertips’ by Rebecca Desnos. Not only are these books so stunningly beautiful, but they present themselves in a easy to follow way. Everyone should have a go!

My first attempt at dying was to dye yarn. I chose an un-dyed merino as my base, but any un-dyed yarn we have in store will work for you. Like the white Knit by Numbers KBN55 or the undyed Purl Alpaca Fine and Medium yarns. It does however help if the yarn is in a skein, as this allows the dye to move around the fibre more easily, resulting in a more even colour. Though turning a ball of yarn into a skein can be done by winding it around the back of a dining chair for example, then tying it in places so it doesn’t tangle, then sliding it off. Also to note as I found out later, different yarns can effect the colour, so I would try all sorts.

I dipped in and out of both books for my first attempt, choosing the scouring and mordanting techniques of Kristine Vejar, I prepared my yarn. With that done I flicked through the Rebecca Desnos book for plant inspiration. Botanical Colour at your Finger tips is more of a guide book, where as with the Modern Natural Dyer you learn through fun little projects. So
depending on the way you learn either could work for you.

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For my first dye I decided on using stinging nettles, hoping for a wonderful grassy green. So off I went, armed with some thick gardening gloves and a large plastic bag. I popped to my local woods, where they grow plentifully along the sides of the pathways. I will say as Rebecca Desnos points out, be mindful when foraging, collect weeds and invasive species
first and not in the same area, to not destroy the habitats of the wildlife that live there. Walking around the woods like a madman I collected my nettles and with my bag full and only being stung once, I headed home. With an old pan bought from a charity shop specially for the job, I boiled up my leaves. One thing I will say, boiling nettles does smell very appetising. The whole flat smelt very strongly of nettle tea.

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When strained of the plant matter, I was left with a pot of what looked like a pan of overly stewed brown watery tea. Not disheartened I carried on and in went my prepared yarn. The whole process is like alchemy or witchcraft and I left my yarn bubbling away in its nettle broth. When the allotted time was up I pulled it out and guess what it was green! All be it a very pale shade of green. But it was my green, my first naturally dyed yarn. Its a great feeling having created something that is unique to you and unique to your surroundings. Its from the earth, its nature.

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As you could well imagine I was excited to knit it up straight away. I chose the Arvia Shawl from Amirisu 13 which champions natural colour and has some interesting articles worth a read.

Intrigued by the dying process and how it might react to different fibres I tried another dye. This time oak galls, which I read historically were used to create inks. So the potential for a dark moody colour really got me excited.

0706Back to the woods I head and like a pig rooting around for truffles, I scour the forest floor for the deformed acorns that are caused by the gall wasp. These boiled up with an intriguing woody smell and the dye pot looked as dark as can be. All good so far. I sieved out the galls and popped in un-dyed merino, a new wool and some mohair and waited for the
results. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a dark brown but got an olive green with subtlety different shades over the different fibres. The Modern Natural Dyer has a project where you make a shawl out of dyed different fibres and you learn through the process. A pattern for me to try in the future I think.

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My latest dying attempt and actually what hooked me into The Modern Natural Dyer book, wasn’t a project to dye yarn but to dye fabric. Kristine Vejar takes you through all the steps you need. I chose a natural piece of fabric and prepared it to her instructions. Then went rummaging around my garden for any brightly coloured flowers I could find, luckily I went a
bit overboard with the flower beds this year so there were plenty to choose from. If you don’t have a garden, try a brightly coloured bunch of flowers from the shop. Certain flowers work better than others but its worth a try. I may plant more dye heavy flowers next year as a result of this, like cosmos and marigolds.

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Boiling up my flowery bundle and then unravelling my finished fabric was pure joy. Some flowers took and some didn’t but the result was beautiful. Like a watercolour painting or an ink blot test. Definitely one to try again.

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If you fancy having a go at dying yourself we also have natural dying kits by Hey Mama Wolf. These have the materials you need to dye fabric or yarn with dried flowers and plants at home. If natural dying doesn’t appeal to you and you love the natural look of plant dyed fibres then try the Hey Mama Wolf sock yarn we stock. They are hand dyed with a dreamy
selection of natural materials. As a result they have a range of colours that are gentle and pleasing to the eye as the natural environment they came from.

What Maya Knits – East or West Pullover

To be honest – the heating in our shop is not ideal for the really cold winter days – especially if you are sat still in the back room with admin all day, but who cares when it is the perfect opportunity to snuggle up in our favourite knit wear? Like today, Natalie in a gorgeous colour work cardigan, George who just finished his Speckle and Pop Mystery KAL in his awesome shawl (I just posted a picture of this over on our Instagram if you’d like to take a look), and me wearing my just finished East or West.

The East or West Pullover is a design by Joji Locatelli from her latest collection with Veera Välimäki Interpretations Volume 4. I really enjoyed working on this project as I happen to be a proper construction geek, and the East or West (as its name suggest) completely changes direction half way through. First you knit the center front and back panels from the shoulders down, then you work from the side of the panels shaping the sides and sleeves of the pullover.

East or West

As I prefer – there’s not much sewing involved – you only have to graft the side seams, which means that the pullover when finished appears seamless, which is another design feature that I really like. The East or West is an interesting knit, still easy enough to do watching your favourite series, which is exactly what I did when starting this project during my summer holidays.

East or West Detail

I am particularly pleased with the yarn choices I did for my project. For the main two colours I chose to use the wool/linen blend Lyonesse by Blacker Yarns it gives such a well defined stitch, it is crisp with a rustic feel due to the qualities of the linen, still lovely to wear next to the skin as the wool gives softness, and warmth too. For my turquoise pop of colour I used some Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles left overs I had from a different project, in the colour Wish.

East or West

Joji and Veera are celebrating the five year anniversary of their collaborations next year and I really can’t wait for the Interpretations Volume 5 to be released from Pompom Press, I know I’ll be hooked so quickly, I just love their designs. BUT – sweater season is definitely upon us and I’m planning my next project, and speaking of which, there is another incredibly exciting publication from Pompom Press being released these days, their first hardback book is just around the corner to be delivered to us. Bristol Ivy has finally gathered all her amazing ideas and talent into this one book – Knitting outside the Box – and I have already picked my favourite and next project. Just look at this sweater, my heart literarily skipped a beat when I noticed the Arbus – I can’t wait to cast on!

Arbus

Yarn Pairings for Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 23 – Winter 2017

PomPom23-cover

Who doesn’t love a winter issue of a knitting magazine? They are often the best of the year, with cozy sweaters and snuggly accessories. The Winter 2017 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly is one of their best this year, and that’s with a year that’s been fairly knock out! This issue was inspired by norther lights and neon colours in the dark. The whole issue is just gorgeous to look at, we’ve all picked out our favourites here in the shop and we’ve put together each pattern with our favourite yarns.

PomPom23-01First up is Bindrune, by Amy Chrisoffers. This oversized cardigan is knit in Léttlopi using one main colour and 2 contrast colours in the hem and cuffs. We have almost 40 glorious colours of Lopi in stock right now, so plenty to choose from!

PomPom23-02Next up we have Chrysocolla by Tatyana Scotce, a glorious jumper made with cables and bobbles and texture galore. It’s heavier gauge would be quick to knit up and makes it extra cozy as well! The Almerino Aran from Rooster would boost that up even more with its merino/alpaca blend.

PomPom23-03Cobaltoan by Lesley Anne Robinson is a cozy 2-colour brioche hat with a pom pom (of course!) and a side panel of stitches that create a geometric pattern. The speckles and solids of Hedgehog Merino DK would show off the pattern perfectly!

PomPom23-04The second hat of the issue is Dipyramid, a more traditional colouwork hat that has unisex appeal. It uses two 50g balls of one colour, and one 50g ball of a contrast. Blacker Swan DK has loads of perfect colour combinations to knit this up!

PomPom23-05The next technique to take the knitting world by storm is likely to be mosaic stitch, which is starting to crop up here and there more often. Ephemeris by Debra Gerhard is a shawl in 2 colours that uses this technique beautifully. The shawl uses 2 colours to create patterned stitches in garter stitch. We recommend Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock.

PomPom23-06Next up is Flourite by Andrea Mowry. Andrea uses her iconic fade technique to move between colours in this pair of reverse stocking stitch knee high socks. We think that the Qing Fibre High Twist would be a great starting point for these socks, though you only need a smaller amount of a few colours, so it’s a good way to use up leftovers as well.

PomPom23-07Orianna by Paula Periera is a pullover sweater that combines techniques, with cables on the sleeves and body, and a colourwork yoke. The pattern calls for Manos del Uruguay Clasica, which we also carry here in the shop.

PomPom23-08The next pullover design is by Astrid Troland. Called Selenite, it is again worked in multiple colours. This time there is one main colour, with 4 contrast colours worked in the stripes and in the cuffs and collar. We would choose Blacker Yarns Tamar for a similar feel yarn that has a beautiful range of colours.

PomPom23-09Stellate is the last accessory of the issue. Designed by Julie Dubreux of Julie Knits In Paris, it is a 2 colour shawl worked in garter stitch and brioche in a DK weight. We would knit it in Knit By Numbers DK from John Arbon for a really lush and warm shawl to take you through the cold months.

PomPom23-10Last but not least is the cover design, Tabular, by Maja Möller. This lightweight pullover is a perfect layering sweater that would work well year round. Knit in a heavy laceweight, it features a modularly knit garter stitch panel in the front of the sweater. This sweater would be beautiful knit up in Meadow from The Fibre. Co. A luxurious blend of merino, baby llama, silk and linen, it will be one you’ll reach for over and over.

What’s your favourite pattern from the issue? We all have a sweater or two we are itching to cast on for over here!