The Natural Dye MAL

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Last year I had so much fun hosting the Natural Dye KAL that I’ve decided to do it again. This year, however, I’m changing the name from KAL (knitalong) to MAL (makealong) to be more welcoming to crocheters and weavers, and I’ll be extending the MAL from three months to a whole year, from the first day of summer 2019 to the first day of summer 2020, to enable those who want to dye their own yarn by encompassing a full range of seasons with which to harvest and forage for plant material, no matter which hemisphere you reside.

Interested in joining along? We’d love to have you! Here are the rules:

  • The Natural Dye Makealong will run from June 21st, 2019 to June 21st, 2020

  • Enter with as many finished objects (FO’s) as you’d like. The more FOs you enter, the more likely you are to win.

  • To join, make any knitted or crocheted project using naturally dyed yarns. You can use yarn that you dyed yourself or that you have acquired from another natural dyer.

  • Please take a photo of the yarn before you use it and tell us a little bit about it. If you dyed it yourself, what did you use? If you purchase from another dyer, do they give any information on what they used?

  • Double-dipping with other K/CALs is allowed.

  • WIPs are a-ok.

  • Use the hashtag #naturaldyeMAL for your WIPs and #naturaldyeMALFO for your FO’s on Instagram

  • Prizes will be drawn from the FO thread on Ravelry and the Instagram Hashtag #naturaldyeMALFO

  • Prizes are TBD

If you have any questions, please leave them here under this post or in the Ravelry group chatter thread. And please make sure to sign up to my newsletter below for updates as well. I look forward to seeing your natural dye experiments! Happy making.

Thoughts on the Shop Launch + The Natural Dye Knit Along

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I meant to cast on for the Natural Dye Knit Along the day it began (April 1st), but I was so absorbed in preparing for the shop launch that I decided I needed to wait. After all, this KAL is running for several months specifically so nobody feels rushed or pressured, so I suppose I should relax and give myself plenty of time too, right?

In any case, the shop went live on Monday at 12pm PDT and it completely exceeded my expectations. I thought I’d get a sale or two, but I had no idea most of my yarn inventory would sell out within 45 minutes. I’m still a bit stunned, to be honest, but in the best possible way. Not only do I get the pleasure of seeing the yarns I’ve dyed in the hands of other knitters, but this also means I get to dye way more yarn! Hurray!

Want to join the Natural Dye Knit Along? Come visit the thread in my Ravelry group  here  for more information.

Want to join the Natural Dye Knit Along? Come visit the thread in my Ravelry group here for more information.

Side note: if you make something with my yarn and you’re on social media, please feel free to share it with the hashtag #awoodennestfiber! I’m so excited to see how it will be used.

Anyway, I’ll be using the earnings from this update to buy more yarn. I’m hoping to have another shop update early next month (date TBD), and I’ll be dyeing in much larger quantities this time around to bulk up my inventory. Also, many of you have made requests for specific bases (more fingering weight and tweedy sock yarn) and dye techniques (more variegated), so I’ll try to keep that in mind when I order as well.

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As for the #naturaldyekal, I’ve finally begun swatching for a cute little summer top for my daughter. This will be my first time working with a cotton + linen blend, so it’s a bit of an adjustment knowing that the stitches won’t bloom, but I’m enjoying working with it so far. I dyed this yarn with Sappanwood from Maiwa a month or two ago and used soda ash to adjust the pH. It turned the dye bath from an orange-red to a dark purple-pink. I think this may have affected the overall tone, but a great deal of the intensity and depth of the color from the bath washed out of the fiber. I’m left with something similar to a dusty, avocado pink, which I don’t mind in the least, though I wish I'd stuck a skein or two of wool in with the bath to see how the colors would compare.

Cellulose fibers are still a bit of a mystery to me. Not just cellulose yarns, but fabrics as well. I’ve heard a rumor that soy milk actually works better as a mordant for cellulose than alum, but I haven’t done any comparisons. I’ve read Botanical Colour at your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos, though, and she uses soy milk with great success.

I’m thinking of including a short clip in my next podcast episode about mordants for those of you who are feeling a bit gun-shy with regards to joining the Natural Dye KAL. Of course, you don’t have to dye your own yarn. You’re plenty welcome to use yarn from another natural dyer, but several of you have mentioned that you’d like to try dyeing yourself but are feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps I can help with that.