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Dear Ann,

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.

The Giveaway

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!)




  • I might have already signed up for the newsletter, but now I really want to make sure!
    Soooo glad you two are back.

    • Glad you found us again, Aara! The good old days….are back.

    • Aara, hi!

  • So glad you’real back!

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  • Glad you’re back!

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  • I don’t plan on becoming a dyer, but did take a natural dyeing class from genius dyer Jackie Ottino Graf. I felt like an alchemist, a magical thrower of colors into a pot, and I understood why women who did this in the middle ages were called witches. But trying dying and spinning makes me see how hard it is to get it right. I’m happy to support the work of the skilled. Economic development! Please don’t put me in the drawing.

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  • I’ve managed to avoid the call of spinning (so far), but dyeing has definitely been calling to me. And weaving (got a rigid heddle loom for my birthday) and hand sewing (Alabama Chanin to blame) — but I’m just not comfortable unless I’ve got something on the knitting needles.

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  • Oh…love that blue! Can’t get into yet another thing while we are downsizing, but wow, does it look like fun.

  • Love this!

  • I’ve always told myself that my limited hobby time should be spent knitting, that there are craftsmen who do things like spin and dye so expertly that I should just enjoy the fruits of their labor. But I took a dyeing class with Kim McBride-Evans at this year’s Make.Wear.Love retreat and now I’m hooked. Saw this book at Rhinebeck — it’s lovely.

  • I have SUCH an itch to try indigo dying…..but worry about my kitchen (and thus my entire tiny house) smelling like wet fur for weeks on end! The siren song keeps getting louder, though………..

    • I was so expecting it to smell bad, but it really doesn’t–at least not in powdered form.

      • Well, that’s good to know! That might just be a Thanksgiving weekend fun project!

  • You’re so right. It starts with “I think I’ll just make a scarf.” and ends with ‘imagination has no limits’. I haven’t tried dying yet and am ready to jump in.

  • I’m so excited that you all are back! ?

  • I have a bagful of avocado pits in my freezer as we speak awaiting my moment to jump in to natural dying – hopefully soon!

    • What color do avocado pits dye things???

      • Many variations of rose / blush – or ladies panties – depending on the acidity level. I recruited my SoCal dad to gather some for me, received a box of 300 :-0

  • Some friends and I tried natural dyeing. It was hard work, but really fun! I’ve been looking forward to this book!

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  • I got the book at Rhinebeck. building 30 was on my List.
    It is a treasure. Jen has a walnut tree in her yard. I better get over there. The marigolds are in the freezer. (sounds like code)
    I am on the brink. I may have ordered some alum mordant.
    And seeds for indigo.
    Joni Mitchell will be the sound track.
    Beyond the brink. Should be the title of my memoir.

    • Once more into the brink, dear friends. We few, we lucky few, we marigold-freezers.

  • I love the results of clever dyers, but haven’t yet heard that siren call. Now weaving? It has been calling my name for ages & ages. Franklin’s recent post about his adventures with a rigid heddle loom didn’t help at all! Someday…

    • P.S.–thanks so much for the book/yarn from the last giveaway! I’m so excited to see what it looks like up close. 🙂

  • Sign me up!

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  • I’ve dabbled in natural dyeing but so far have only succeeded in felting the wool. sigh… I need this book.

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  • Welcome back ladies! I’m enjoying your daily postings very much!

  • So glad you guys are back at it!

  • That sweater is amazing! It is now on my must knit list.

  • Am growing some indigo plants for the first time and would like to use them,
    the book would surely come in handy :))

  • Would love to have this book! It looks beautiful!

  • I’ve done some natural dying with mixed results. Indigo had the best results (I used a Jacquard kit). I love to dye yarn with Wilton’s food color or Kool Aid the best. Does that count as natural?

  • I was really into dyeing yarn with natural dyes back in the 70’s— even wrote a small pamphlet on natural dyes in Alaska for the local Cooperative Extension Service. I would sure love to win this book and see the trends in natural dyes now— there are so many wild plants and lichens that make lovely dyes…

  • This looks fantastic! I may or may not have just bought my first roving and drop spindle…

  • What a beautiful book! And cute kit items.

  • Sign me up! And soooooo glad you’re back! =)

  • I keep thinking someday on dying. I’d love a little push.

  • Hmm. I’ve avoided the siren call of hand-dyeing, even though I’ve been oh-so-tempted, thinking I’m just not “artistic enough,” but this may be irresistible.

  • I would love to learn to dye and win the book. Thanks!

  • Kristine is one of my favorite fiber people! So talented,

  • I did some dying a few years back & just loved the colors. Now I just have to learn to spin on my Navajo spindle… Would love to win this book & one of those sweet kits.

    What color do avacado pits produce?

  • Dyeing has always called to me. If I had a window in my kitchen, I’d jump right in!

  • So glad you are back! It’s such a treat to read every morning….fun, inspiring, and informative.

  • whoa….this looks like too much fun…please enter me in the drawing!

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  • love, love, love dying yarn. My daughters think this is great fun too. it is such a real life witches cauldron and chemistry lab all rolled together.

  • I’ve resisted the lure of dying, other than a couple of forays into Kool Aid — but there’s always the danger I’ll succumb at some point.

  • Nothing calls to me more than natural dyeing. Wonder if there’s enough interest in NYC for an occasional collective dyeing day. I have the book and a couple of indigo pots waiting to be re-started…

  • So happy you are back. Always informative and inspiring.

  • Yeah! Thank you. Indigo kit

  • I am so so glad you both are back and blogging! I have been knitting and reading your most recent posts and there is just nothing better than working stockinette and reading about knitting adventures.

    And thank your for the heads up about this book, I think it will be a perfect addition to the little city library I manage.

  • Thank you for passing the word along on so many beautiful things!

  • Been loving all the posts.

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  • Thank you, I would rather not subscribe to the newsletter, but I will admit to a new fascination with dyeing. Combine the book I found at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais (In Search of the Perfect Green — and Orange, too! A Natural Dye Book by Stefania Isaacson), the “natural” Patons yarn I found in this summer’s stash toss, and the great marigolds, mint and black walnuts I suddenly was growing, I am IN! Madder and indigo are one too many steps for me yet.

  • I’m just getting into dying and loving the process. Thanks for this opportunity…the book looks wonderful.

  • I just spun my very first “art yarn” yesterday on my new drop spindle. I’m hooked… I mean really. How much room can one goat take up?

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  • Would really love to win this one! Thanks!

  • Back a hundred years ago when I was in Girl Scouts, we had to do some, what is now called natural dying; don’t remember the badge I earned, but I do remember dying fabric with onions, and then beets. Girl Scouts exposed us to so many things, some day I’ll try natural dying again.

  • Would love a kit – how Fun! Welcome back, blog.

  • Thanks!

  • MDK in my inbox? Sign me up! You guys never fail to make me smile.

  • Oh, yes! Please! I have been suffering from a terrible case of viral pinkeye, and would love to try my hand at natural dyeing–one I can open my eyes fully again, that is :))

  • Indigo, oh be still my heart, indigo. Hear of “Twirl” yarns? The creator, head pre-yarn bearing animal wrangler, dyer, designer, spinner cum knitter Mary Pettis-Sarley not only shared her bliss and joy with the handwaving/handspinning and knitters group I belong to – yes, I am two out of three with that – but then invited the bunch up to the ranch for a day of dyeing with the local weeds and such. Like logwood and cochineal. In the background were at least 1,000 baby indigo plants to share for a Fibershed project. It was then I became aware of how far up my neck I was in things fiber-ish.

    The spinning thing? Such a joy, just wish I could get the hang of those little drop spindles. So portable. If but I could, fiber would never leave my hands…. Oh, wait, it doesn’t now…. Thank you, sheep.

  • So happy you are back!

  • I would love to win this prize, have dabbled a bit with dyeing but i’m anxious to learn lots more.

  • Please add me to your email list

  • So glad you’re blogging again!

  • But, you know, I never did get around to making black walnut liqueur.

    • As much as I love black walnuts and liqueur, I’m ok with this omission. Let’s dye and go to heaven!

  • Please enter me in the drawing!

  • I, too, am in love with indigo…so lovely!

  • Like you, dyeing has called to me for a long time, but I’ve resisted …until now!

  • Looks like a lot of fun!

  • I’d love to win a copy of The Modern Natural Dyer. I’ve been tempted to fall down that rabbit hole, but haven’t yet.
    I signed up for the newsletter, so here’s hoping!

  • My fingers are firmly crossed on this lovely giveaway opp! I think I clicked the newsletter button earlier, but I’ll click it again Just In Case, because dyeing is one of my favorite dabbles. Black walnut had been my favorite botanical so far, but I’m planning to branch out into some of the acid dyes.* I’ve planned a late-Autumn dyeing project, for which I just ordered a big whack of yarn. (That is the unit of measurement for when you buy so much yarn you scare yourself a little.)
    *See what I did there?

  • Oh those kits look so wonderful!

  • Indigo, so beautiful!

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  • I am lousy with black walnuts here and to put their dye capabilities to uses to items other than the soles of my shoes would be perfect. I have been coveting that book.

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  • I love this! I’ve been staying far away from spinning bc I already have enough yarn to open my own yarn shop. But natural dyes… That seems more ok!

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  • This book is calling to me 🙂

  • Love reading your blog again, so glad you’re back!!!

  • I am so glad to have you two back at the blog. Thank you!

  • Like this.

  • Ooh, I’d love to win this book. Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  • Thanks for splendid give-away!

  • Slippery slope indeed….reading this makes me wonder what the tree is in my back yard that gets some sort of nut that looks like a walnut…it’s not a pecan…but it gets nuts encased in a fuzzy sticky green shell that goes away and leaves something that looks like a walnut….

  • Thank you, wonderful giveaway!

  • Great giveaway

  • Oh, indigo! While I can’t stand hippy-looking tie dye, I fall HARD for indigo dye on white fabric in pretty patterns of all types …

  • I was fortunate enough to go to the launch at AVFKW in Oakland. Kristina’s store/studio is one of my most special happy places. it’s always so inspiring.

  • damn. missed the cutoff (just reading this today at 155 pm)

  • oooooooo

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  • I’d love to win the Northwoods Hat. I’ve read a lot of great things about the book. It sounds really interesting. I’ve never dyed anything before, but I have a humongous Black Walnut tree next door and would love to learn how to dye using the walnuts. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • How did I miss this? Sigh. Because the last thing I need is another project. Or more material. But thanks for sharing alllll those gorgeous pics. Sigh. mmmmmmm. Maybe the last of the fall color in the courtyard is going to get harvested.

  • I signed up for the newsletter, but I also wanted to say–INDIGO!!

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  • Thanks for signing me up!

  • Very excited you are back!

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