For the cold days: a ‘sampler’ knitted dress

Today is the perfect day to share a project that is easy and requires persistence, perfect for those who love uncomplicated knitting – the northerly wind brings thick clothing to mind!

The real difference with this piece of work is the collection of samples of vegetable-dyed wool that I have on hand.

I have one or two skeins per colour. What should I make with them?

The simplest solution would be to make a plaid. Lots of big squares that could be joined together, perhaps finished with one or two cushions. But I already made a multi-coloured ‘sampler’ plaid on another occasion, in quite fantastical – but effective – colour combinations! (I must remember to search for the photos to show you!)

There are two other possibilities: either lots of small items or one, rather large garment.

In these instances, I am overtaken by an irresistible urge to test my abilities, even if the project seems like it will take a rather long time.

What if I made a dress? Would I be brave enough to leave the house in such an original piece of clothing (even if the colours are those lovely warm tones of natural dye)? It does not really matter.  It can always be a ‘house’ dress. Living at the foot of the mountains, wearing a warm and comfortable garment is lovely, particularly when my main work takes place sat at the computer, surrounded by lots of books (piled up on the desk and often on the floor).

I had already tried the pattern before for a linen dress decorated with vegetable prints, and it seemed easily adaptable. Roomy, comfortable, and terribly British.

I bought it some time ago in London, from Liberty if my memory serves me correctly. It’s quite fitting for me, as a woman grappling with writing but also want to go on wintry walks in the park or the woods, I love comfy clothes…

Anyway, it is an experiment – if I am particularly pleased with the result then I will be able to wear it on many occasions. If not, then it will simply become my winter ‘uniform’.

The starting point, as has often happened before, was a few days spent dyeing with Michela Pasini, a.k.a. Rosso di Robbia, in the capacity of helper, nosy parker and blogger.

The product of these days is a good number of skeins in six different colours, obtained from madder, blackberry, oak gall, mignonette, onion, plus logwood mixed with mignonette, which gives an incredible moss green result.

Suitably washed and left to air dry, I get lots of balls of yarn out of it. At that point, once the measurements have been made, the samples created and the starting stitches have been worked out, the project becomes fun: constructing lots of strips in decreasing sizes, keeping to the pattern, and alternating the colours as I wish.

As I gradually finish the strips – six in total, three for the front and three for the back, plus the sleeves of course! – I amuse myself by arranging them in various ways and photographing them.

When they are all finally ready, I iron them delicately, protecting them with a damp cloth, and begin the work of putting them together.

Intentionally, I choose not to finish the edges except for the neck, to avoid slackening.

In the photos, you can see the results of this long knitting frenzy (which to tell the truth was very simple – all in stockinette stitch, which, as they say, grows all on its own, without you even having to look at it.  Of course, in this case, I had to pay attention to the decreasing sizes!).


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