Shoji Cardigan and experiments in natural dyeing.

It’s not too often that I finish a knitting project, and so it’s a celebration when I do. This Shoji cardigan (pattern by Norah Gaughan) is a project that I started back in December 2016, and I finally finished it a few weeks ago. Yay!

I loved the project as soon as I saw it in a Brooklyn Tweed collection a while back. Living in Florida can make knitting challenging at times, because it’s never cold enough to warrant a ton of knitted stuff. What I liked about this design was that it looked like a cozy blanket that you could layer over whatever else you’re wearing. This seemed appropriate for how I tend to dress in the winter here. Plus I was intrigued by the shape and construction. It’s knitted as a long rectangle that gets sewn together and added a collar.

The yarn I used underwent quite a transformation after being fully knitted and dipped into a natural dye bath of cutch with my friend, and expert dyer, Kim Eichler-Messmer. Below are some of Kim’s very helpful samples dyed from a variety of things. They aren’t a promise for what will happen, but good approximations of what all can happen. My Shoji, a swatch and extra yarn pre-dyed are there at the bottom. It’s very different, right?

Natural Dye samples with Kim Eichler-Messmer

The yarn was a fun color to start with, but even though I alternated skeins every row the color variation was too much over the course of the entire project. It looked super patchy, and I wasn’t totally convinced by the shade of pink. As it was, I didn’t think I’d ever wear it outside of my house. I figured it was worth a shot to see what could happen with a little experimenting.

The color came out more gorgeous than I could have ever imagined! That’s it on the left. (We tried some other dye baths as well.) For some reason I figured the only fate for this sweater would be to become navy or black. Brown was not something I’d even thought of as possible, but after seeing her samples, I knew that’s what I wanted to try. I figured it could be a good fit.

The sweater fared the dying process surprisingly well. I know that it probably grew a bit, which is fine–it is still cozy. I ended up tightening up some of the seaming that was loosened during the process, but otherwise not much else needed to happen.

Now that I’m officially done with my Shoji, I can a) wear it(!), and b) get back to work on another knitting project that I started over a year ago. The front and back are done, and I’m working on the sleeves.

pattern: Shoji by Norah Gaughan

yarn: Tosh DK in Pink Clay Optic, overdyed with cutch (and the critical help of expert Kim Eichler-Messmer)

5 Responses to Shoji Cardigan and experiments in natural dyeing.

  1. Tara December 7, 2019 at 5:46 pm #

    I love your Shoji! The dye has given it such a rich colour, was totally worth your efforts.

    • carolyn friedlander December 9, 2019 at 11:08 am #

      Thank you!

  2. Janet December 11, 2019 at 6:22 am #

    Wow! So much better in the gorgeous brown color!!! Looks fantastic!!!

    • carolyn friedlander December 11, 2019 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks, Janet!

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    […] project for me and also a fun way to quilt along in real time with many of you. I finally finished this knit that had been sitting in limbo for far too long. That feels good! I really wanted to finish out […]

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