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DIY Knit Hat from The Modern Natural Dyer

by Grace Bonney

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I follow weavers, textile artists and dye specialists on Instagram the way some people follow bands. I’ve been following Bay-Area dyer, teacher, artist — and now author — Kristine Vejar for a while now, after discovering her shop, A Verb for Keeping Warm, earlier in the year. I’m constantly amazed by the way she is able to turn natural materials (often foraged during walks) into beautiful dyes for clothing and home goods. So I was thrilled to hear that she has a new book out, The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen and Cotton at Home.

Kristine’s book breaks down natural dyeing from both a scientific and creative perspective, making the process (which has always seemed intimidating to me) feel as approachable as it is beautiful. I love the projects in the book because, in addition to learning basic dye formulas and techniques, the DIY ideas are a nice balance of classic and contemporary. From cool, blousy shirts (that would look at-home in any hip boutique) to table linens and pillows, The Modern Natural Dyer is a great way to dive into the world of dyeing.

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Today, Kristine is sharing a cozy, knit pom pom hat tutorial with us (with a how-to for the hat and the dyeing) and is offering a special giveaway for one lucky reader! Just leave a comment below with what you’d like to learn/make from the book (custom-dyed sheets? Indigo napkins?) and Kristine will pick her favorite comment to win a copy of her book AND one of Kristine’s new kits that contains all the materials you need to make this hat! The hat kit comes in three colors: red (madder), yellow (weld) and purple (logwood), so you’ll choose your own color. The deadline for comments is this Sunday at 5 pm EST! xo, grace

[UPDATE: The contest is now closed- congrats, Amy W.!]

Photography by Sara Remington

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Excerpted from The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen, and Cotton at Home By Kristine Vejar (Published by STC Craft | An Imprint of Abrams). Photography by Sara Remington.

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Northwoods Hat, excerpted from The Modern Natural Dyer

Skills Learned: dyeing with extracts on protein-Based goods, working with the protein shade card

For the first project using extracts, I wanted to create something fun, easy, and versatile — a simple knitted hat. Made from chunky weight yarn, this hat knits up in a flash. Due to the speed with which this hat can be completed, it is a great project to work through many of the colors and shades found on the Shade Card (see the book!) — try it in shades of purple (logwood purple), red (madder), yellow (weld), or pink (quebracho red). A hat to go with every outfit! Or great gifts for your loved ones.

Size
: one size fits most

Finished measurements
17 1⁄2″ (44.5 cm) circumference;
8 3⁄4″ (22 cm) tall
Note: Hat will stretch to fit up to a 22″ (56 cm) head circumference.

Gauge
13 sts (stitches) and 16 rnds (rounds) = 4″ (10 cm) in stockinette stitch (st st)
12 sts and 16 rnds = 4″ (10 cm) in 1×1 rib, without stretching

See Dyeing 101 below for information on scouring (below) and mordanting (below)

Goods
Quince & Co Puffin (100% ameri- can wool; 112 yards [102 meters / 100 grams]): 1 hank #101 egret, scoured and mordanted

Dyeing Materials and Tools
1 scant teaspoon (2.5g) logwood purple extract
1⁄4 cup (60ml) hot water
6 to 7 cups (1.4 to 1.7l) water
3- to 5-quart (2.8 to 4.7l) stainless-steel pot with lid
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Stirrer, such as whisk or spoon
Tongs
Timer
Thermometer
Rubber gloves

Knitting Tools
One 16″ (40 cm) circular needle size us 101⁄2 (6.5 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge
One set of four double-pointed needles (dpns) size us 101⁄2 (6.5 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge
Stitch marker
Darning needle

Dyeing Directions
1. Add 1⁄4 cup (60ml) hot water to a measuring cup. Add the extract in the amount to reach the shade of your choice; the recipe in the directions yields a dark purple color. Stir with a small whisk or spoon until dissolved.

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2. Combine the dissolved dye mixture and 6 to 7 cups (1.4 to 1.7l) water in a pot. Add the scoured and mordanted yarn.

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3. Place the pot on a burner. Slowly, over 30 minutes, bring the dyebath to 190°f (88°C) — just under a simmer — turning the yarn every 10 minutes. Hold at that temperature for an additional hour, continuing to turn the yarn every 10 minutes.

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4. Turn off the heat. Let the yarn rest until cool.

5. Wash the goods and allow to dry.

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Knitting Directions

Stitch Pattern
1×1 rib
(even number of sts; 1-rnd repeat)
All Rnds: *k1 (knit 1), p1 (purl 1); repeat from * to end.

Hat

Using circular needle, Co (cast on) 64 sts. Join for working in the rnd, being careful not to twist sts; pm for beginning of rnd.
Begin 1×1 rib; work even until piece measures 4″ (10 cm) from the beginning.
Change to St st (knit every rnd); work even until piece measures 51⁄2″ (14 cm), from the beginning.

Shape Crown

Note: Change to dpns when necessary for number of sts on needle.
Set-up rnd: *k6, k2tog (knit 2 stitches together), pm (place marker); repeat from * to end—56 sts remain. knit 1 rnd.
Decrease rnd: *knit to 2 sts before marker, k2tog, sm (slip marker); repeat from * to end—48 sts remain. Repeat Decrease rnd every other rnd 5 more times — 8 sts remain.
Cut yarn, leaving a 12″ (30.5 cm) tail; thread tail through remaining sts, pull tight, and fasten off. Weave in ends and block as desired.

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Stage 2: Scouring

It is important to scour (prewash) all fibers and fabrics before beginning the mordanting and dyeing process — especially cellulose-based fibers and any protein-based fibers such as wool, where lanolin may be present. Scouring removes any residue from the manufacturing process, so the mordant and dye can adhere to the material thoroughly and uniformly. Scouring helps ensure more saturated colors with better colorfastness.
A note on pot size: The size of the pot you use for scouring and mordanting is dependent upon the amount of goods you are working with. Unless you are scouring and mordanting for multiple projects, use the size called for in the project’s dyeing instructions.

Scouring Protein-based goods

Laundry detergent and soap are usually alkaline and can damage protein-based fibers. Use only mild dish-washing detergent with a neutral pH level; a few drops of dishwashing detergent work well.

Materials
Mild dishwashing detergent (I use Ecover or Dawn)

Tools
3-quart (2.8l) or larger stainless-steel pot with lid (size dependent on the amount of goods)
Measuring spoons
Thermometer
Tongs
Rubber gloves

1. Fill a stainless-steel pot with enough water so the goods are covered and can move freely once added to the pot.

2. For each 500g of dry goods, add 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5ml) dishwashing liquid to the pot of water and stir.

3. Add the goods to the pot. Slowly, over 30 minutes, bring the water in the pot to 180°f (82°C), keeping the water just under a simmer. Hold at this temperature for an additional 30 minutes, rotating goods gently from the top to the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes. Make sure the goods remain submerged when rotating.

4. Turn off the heat. Allow the goods to cool. Rinse the fibers or fabric in cold water to remove excess detergent. If the water in the pot is dark yellow or brown after scouring, repeat the process until the water is clear.

5. Squeeze excess scouring water from the goods. You can either proceed to mordanting the goods or store them wet in a plastic bag or bucket; in a cool dark place, they will be fine up to 7 days. If you need to wait longer than this, allow the goods to dry and store them until you are ready to mordant.

Stage 3: Mordanting

A mordant is a naturally occurring, water-soluble metallic salt that bonds the dye to the fiber. During the mordanting step, this salt is applied to the fiber. For the recipes in this book, I use aluminum-based mordants as they are nontoxic, safe for the environment, accessible, and produce bright, long-lasting color. In addition to aluminum, iron, copper, tin, and chrome have been used historically as mordants. You will not need to mordant goods that you will be dyeing with indigo, as the indigo dyeing process is very different. You will learn about indigo dyeing on page 62.

Mordanting Protein-based fibers

Use food-grade aluminum potassium sulfate for this step, because it is free of iron and other impurities.

Materials
Aluminum potassium sulfate

Tools
3-quart (2.8l) or larger stainless-steel pot with lid (size dependent on the amount of goods)
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Stirrer, such as whisk or spoon
Thermometer
Tongs
Rubber gloves

1. Fill a stainless-steel pot with enough water so the goods are covered and can move freely when they are added to the pot.

2. For every 100g of dry goods, add 1⁄4 cup (60ml) of hot water to a measuring cup and then add 1 tablespoon (14g) aluminum potassium sulfate. Stir with a small whisk or spoon until dissolved. (e)

3. Add the dissolved aluminum potassium sulfate mixture to the pot of water and stir.

4. Add scoured, wet goods. Slowly, over 30 minutes, bring the water in the pot to 180°f (82°C) for silk and 190°f (88°C) for wool, keeping the water just under a simmer. Hold at this temperature for an additional hour, rotating the goods gently every 10 minutes. Make sure the goods remain submerged.

5. Turn off the heat. Allow the goods to cool.

6. Squeeze excess mordant water from the goods and rinse with cool water. You can either proceed to dyeing the goods or store them wet in a plastic bag or bucket; in a cool dark place, they will be fine for up to 7 days. If you need to wait longer than 7 days, allow the goods to dry and store them until you are ready to dye.

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Comments

  • As a teacher and maker myself I would love do some natural dying with my students. We do a lot of fiber arts in my room (boys love it the most!) and natural dying would add another level to the learning and the LOVE of learning!

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