Daily Archives: February 12, 2013

My Naturally and Locally Dyed Fair Isle Sweater


It’s finished! You may have remembered that last April I mused about how I dreamed of creating a fair isle sweater out of colors I dyed from plants I collected around our yard, and by gosh I did it! I started knitting the sweater last fall, but uhg, white stockinette knitting can be so easy to put aside when more colorful or cabled projects present themselves. This poor sweater got pushed aside quite often. Then I ran out of yarn. Once I refilled my stash of white, knitting again was slow going until I got to the yoke, which is when I could be seen knitting constantly. Changing colors and following the pattern was great fun. And hallelujah it fits!

I followed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Fair Isle Yoked Sweater pattern from The Opinionated Knitter pretty much exactly, except I cast on 180 stitches for a closer fitting sweater. If you knit and you haven’t yet read one of Elizabeth’s books, you must and soon! If you aren’t yet a knitter yet always wanted to try, I also say read one of her books, she’ll give you the courage to start. I also tried my hand at hemming the arms and bottom hem as she had suggested in other sweaters, and I like the results. (Ravelry notes here)

Every color, except one, comes from plants grown on our property or on our street. The dark brown is from walnut hulls, the orange from a mixture of red and yellow onion skins we grew, the light green from artichokes, yellows came from daffodils and fennel growing along the road down our street. The lighter browns came from purple iris’, blackberry leaves and mint, the light pink from curly dock root. The cream color within the yoke design was tinted with lichen I found by our mailbox. The only color that didn’t grow here was the dark pink in the upper part of the design, that came from avocado skins. It was a debate whether I wanted to use it or not, as it was a ‘foreign’ color, but in the end I added it in as aesthetically I knew it would benefit from it’s rich color. Plus the avocados were eaten on this property…doesn’t that count for something?

Wearing this project is so satisfying! I’m thinking of calling this sweater Romantic Notion, because months ago when I was scheming up this sweater, it seemed like such a far away, silly, romantic notion.

A lot of people have asked me recently when I find time to knit. I knit just about every night. Once the kids get tucked into bed, Scott and I usually fall into a useless heap on the couch. Though I have such twiddly fingers that even when the rest of me is an exhausted mess, my fingers want something to do…and so they knit. My other big knitting time is while the boys do their Tae Kwon Do. Twice a week I’ve sat on the bleachers with the other moms and gabbed and knit. Perfect white stockinette knitting conditions.

Next up on the needles is another local knitting project, but this time it’s all about the wool. Wool from sheep that live just a few houses down! Eek! More on that to come!

Close up pictures of the sweater here.


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