Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Lightning Cardigan: A Collaboration with a Farmer

Last fall I wrote about a sweater kit that I was working on in collaboration with the owner of Black Twig Farm, Rachel, sheep farmer and baker extraordinaire.  She also makes amazing caramel apples as you can read about here.  We met through a tapestry art group and I was inspired by her amazing yarn.  She raises Navajo-Churro sheep on a mountain top in Virginia.  Last year my kids and I went to see all the lambs and mama's, what a treat.  The kids even got to bottle feed a lamb (one of a triplet that had been rejected).

Rachel uses as many local plants as she can get augmented by some natural things that she buys such as indigo and cochineal, and dyes her beautiful yarn.  (The photo below was taken by Sarah Cramer Shieldsand was taken from the Beyond the Flavor website.  You can see Rachel dyeing her many yarns on a lovely early fall day.  In the foreground is a pot of madder, the middle pot holds cochineal, and the back pot holds osage orange which results in a lovely green.

When you see her yarn, the colors just glow.  Because they are hand-dyed, she often does not have enough of one color to make a sweater so I took it as a challenge to use her lovely colors to design a sweater that could use a skeins of different colors.   Here are some photos of the resulting sweater.

This sweater uses natural black which is really more dark brown as the bottom color, the next color up is a grey over dyed with comfrey, the main color is osage orange, and the top color is a white yarn dyed with comfrey.  The accent color is white dyed with indigo.  The sweater come in small, medium and large and is meant to be a fitted sweater through the waist and bust and flares out at the hip.  The sweater shown above is one that I knitted for myself.

The one shown below is knitted with yarns dyed with walnut and the accent color is dyed with cochineal.  This sweater is one that I knitted for Rachel and looks lovely on her.  

Here are some photos of me wearing the sweater in size small.

We have the instructions for sale on Ravelry, and kits for sale if you are interested.  The sweater instructions include directions for making covered snaps and lining the button band with matching fabric and covering the neck seam with velvet ribbon.

  The kits come with selected yarns, fabric for lining the button bands, velvet

Here is just a sampling of the kits that we have on hand right now.  The kit below has yarns dyed with marigold and onion with a cochineal dyed accent.

The next kit we have on hand is dyed with madder and uses a madder-dyed grey for the accent.

The next kit uses all cochineal-dyed yarn with an accent using the Navajo-Churro's natural black, which is really more of a very dark brown.

This last kits uses a mixture of onion and walnut dyed yarn.

If you are interested in just the instructions, they are for sale on Ravelry here.  Or, if you want to put together your own colors or kits, just get in touch with me.  

The sweater is knitted uses a worsted weight aran and #9 needles.  I found it to be a quick knit, although it does require that you learn or know how to strand.  

I keep thinking I will knit another sweater for myself out of the yarn, but in the meantime I am designing a coat sweater using the natural grey in bulky.  As it gets a bit farther along, I will show some photos.

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