The Happy Little Tree Project

Ever see an everyday object that just makes you happy? There’s a tree outside my window that I see every morning.  Against a blue sky, this tree has the sweetest colors of peach, pink, and gold….not the colors of fall, but the colors of spring, new growth, hope.  Every time I see this tree it just gives me a warm, comforting feeling and I’ve wanted to capture those colors and maybe put them in a warm, comforting sweater.

I’ve seen other dyers given a challenge to match the beautiful colors of a bird or a sunset and I’ve been wanting to challenge my dyeing skills to see if I could do it.  I’ve also been wanting to make a colorwork yoke cardigan.  I recently finished Caitlyn Hunter’s Rock Creek sweater in Malabrigo Rios in the Paris Nights colorway and I love it.  I wear it all the time and am surprised that I am not hot.  Worsted weight yarn is relatively heavy, but the cottony feel of Rios is just perfect to feel comfy.  Fat Bunny Yarn’s Woo worsted base is surprisingly similar to Rios.  So, here we go!


We started with the picture above and broke it down into components, with the cardigan in mind.  We’d need a base, a couple of accents and contrasts.  When developing new colors we always do a color study which is an excellent excuse to break out the colored pencils and play.  We started with the blue and broke out all the blue dyes and did some math.  We came up with three possible shades that would approximate the blue in the picture which was deceivingly deep.

Developing a color is tedious, sciency stuff.  You have to write everything down.  You have to weigh things and convert numbers and do all kinds of math.  (Hey, kids! Here’s where that high school algebra comes into play…)  To test in a tiny jelly jar with the hopes of making gallons of your concoction so you can dye lots and lots of a color in the future takes fortitude.  You have to put each tiny batch through the entire acid dye process so you can see how the color will actually turn out.  It can really steal the joy out from under an artsy person.  But we endeavored to persevere as they say, creating three possible blue candidates.  We loved them all, but it was a true Goldilocks and the porridge situation:  The first one was too pale.  The next one was just not enough intense enough and still too pale.  The third time was the charm.  This would be our Blue Sky.


The other colors came a little easier.  We do test minis for all our colorways, so we dipped into the giant box of minis and found the perfect green (Leaf) and a delightful pink (Blossom).  The big challenge was the speckled colorway.  How to capture all those subtle colors on a pale background so it wouldn’t be too garish or crazy.  We tested over 11 different colors before coming up with just the right shades.  And then the speckling, the oh so subtle speckling.  It takes a steady hand and a lot of restraint to do speckles subtly.  The color doesn’t develop immediately, so you have to really be patient or you will end up with a color riot.  We wanted these speckles to be soft and subtle, but not invisible.

So, the yarn was dyed.  Four colors: Blue Sky, Leaf, Blossom, and Tender.  Now, for the cardigan.  So many choices.  Four possible candidates rose to the top:

All of these take about the same amount of yarn.  All are great patterns, but the Day Tripper was the winner.  (these other patterns stay on the radar–they are all so good!)

Day Tripper is in the new Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 17 Lopi with lots of support.  There’s a KAL, Zoom calls and Jen Geigley did this super cool coloring page to figure out your color placement.  Since we need all the help we can get, we see this as the cardigan for us!  Day Tripper calls for the base color plus 6 other colors.  Ours will have a base of Blue Sky and accents in Leaf, Blossom and Tender.  We are opting to not do a contrasting button band, collar and cuffs.  The coloring page really helped to determine the look we wanted for our sweater.  And it was super fun to color.

Really looking forward to having a super cute, super squishy cardigan to wear every day.  It will be a cozy foil to A/C drafts and breezy nights at the beach.  Talk to us about your plans.  We can help put together your own personal “kit” from one of our repeatable colorways or work with you to create a yarn colorway all your own.


Comments 2

    1. Post

      Thanks, Orna.
      I’m using the base plus 3 colors. I have similar colors in fingering weight. Did you see Island Water, Hibiscus and Ballerina or Festive on Lucky fingering/sock weight? I posted pictures on Instagram this afternoon.

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