Tips for working with hand dyed yarn

hand dyed yarn
  1. Consider the yarn base: Hand-dyed yarns come in various fiber compositions, such as wool, cotton, silk, or blends. Take note of the fiber content to understand how it will behave while knitting or crocheting. Different fibers have different characteristics, so be mindful of this when selecting patterns or planning your project.
  2. Buy enough yarn: Hand-dyed yarns often have subtle variations in color due to the dyeing process. It’s recommended to purchase enough yarn for your entire project to ensure the color consistency throughout. If you run out and need to buy more, there might be a noticeable difference in the shade or tone.
  3. Alternate skeins: Even within the same dye lot, hand-dyed yarns can have slight differences in color. To avoid noticeable transitions between skeins, alternate between two or more skeins while working on your project. Alternate every few rows or rounds, carrying the yarn up the side of your work. This technique helps blend the colors more evenly.
  4. Swatch and block: Before diving into your project, knit or crochet a swatch using the hand-dyed yarn. This will help you determine the gauge, fabric characteristics, and how the colors interact in your chosen stitch pattern. Blocking the swatch will give you a better idea of the final drape and appearance.
  5. Choose simple stitch patterns: Intricate stitch patterns can sometimes distract from the beauty of hand-dyed yarn. Consider using simpler stitch patterns that showcase the colors and allow them to shine. Stockinette stitch, garter stitch, or simple lace patterns can be excellent choices.
  6. Avoid high-contrast stitch patterns: Highly contrasting stitch patterns, like strong color changes or complex cables, may obscure the variegation in hand-dyed yarn. Opt for stitch patterns with more subtle color changes that allow the hand-dyed colors to blend harmoniously.
  7. Hand wash your finished item: Hand-dyed yarns are often more delicate than commercially dyed yarns. To preserve the vibrancy and integrity of the colors, hand wash your finished item in cold water using a gentle detergent. Rinse carefully and avoid excessive agitation or twisting.
  8. Store away from direct sunlight: Sunlight can cause fading in hand-dyed yarns over time. When not in use, store your hand-dyed yarn and finished projects in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to maintain their color vibrancy.

Remember, each hand-dyed yarn is unique, and that’s part of its charm. Embrace the subtle color variations and enjoy the artistic nature of working with these beautiful yarns.

Why Hand Dyed Yarn is worth it

The worth of hand-dyed yarn is subjective and depends on individual preferences and needs. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if hand-dyed yarn is worth it for you:

  1. Uniqueness: Hand-dyed yarn often offers unique color variations and patterns that can’t be replicated by mass-produced yarn. If you appreciate one-of-a-kind items or enjoy the artistic expression of the dyer, hand-dyed yarn can be worth it.
  2. Quality: Hand-dyed yarn is typically produced in smaller batches, allowing for closer attention to detail and quality control. If you value high-quality materials and craftsmanship, hand-dyed yarn may be worth the investment.
  3. Support for artisans: Purchasing hand-dyed yarn supports independent artisans and small businesses within the fiber arts community. If you value supporting local or small-scale producers, hand-dyed yarn can be a worthwhile choice.
  4. Price: Hand-dyed yarn is often more expensive compared to mass-produced yarn due to the labor-intensive nature of the dyeing process. Consider your budget and the value you place on the unique qualities of hand-dyed yarn when determining if it’s worth the price for you.
  5. Project requirements: Consider the specific requirements of your project. If you need a consistent color or a larger quantity of yarn, it may be more practical and cost-effective to opt for commercially dyed yarn. However, if you’re looking for a special accent or focal point, hand-dyed yarn can add an extra dimension to your project.

Ultimately, the worth of hand-dyed yarn is a personal decision. If you find joy, inspiration, and satisfaction in working with unique and high-quality materials, and you can afford the price, then hand-dyed yarn can be a worthwhile investment.

Yarn Bases and Pattern Suggestions

The Cumulus Blouse a pattern by Petite Knit is the perfect light summer sweater.  We knit our version using LITLG Silky Boucle.  In the image above we used the colorways Silica.  Head to our semi-solid dyed to order section to order yours and click on the link above to purchase the pattern.  

The Vertical Stripes Sweater is a gorgeous pattern for a DK weight yarn.  We knit our version using yarn held double to create a light and warm fabric – LITLG Suri Silk Cloud and Singles.  In the image above we used the colorways Shield.  

The Ruffle Truffle Sweater was a favorite in our Issue Creative Timber.  A raglan top-down romantic sweater, knitted in our Singles base. Elegant with a simple line and a ruffle collar.  Wonderful to wear to smarten up an outfit while remaining feminine.  Our LITLG singles base has a subtle sheen and lightness which makes it perfect for sweaters and shawls.

Handdyed Yarn

Hand Dyed Yarn skeins ireland
What is Hand Dyed Yarn?

Put simply it is undyed hanks of yarn that are handled and manipulated in batches – by a person, an artisan.  It is not vat-dyed yarn created by machines in large batches.  Each colorway is a recipe created and designed by the main dyer/designer and then dyed repeatedly in small batches to supply yarn retailers or knitters.  There are a lot of variables in the process, water temperature, dye amounts, techniques, styles, setting, skeining, packaging, and hard work.  The design aspect of creating hand-dyed yarn colorways that are knittable but yet excite and ignite the soul of the knitter is always at the forefront of our techniques and style at the studio.  It is labor intensive craft full of design and planning.

handdyed yarn

Why do some colorways look different on different bases?

This is because of the composition of the base that you have chosen and the amount of twist in the yarn ply.  These two factors affect how the dye takes to the wool.  Very untreated non-superwash wools like our Highland DK take the dye in a soft, slightly tonal manner compared to our superwash bases.  Our Twist sock and Sport yarns add a textural feel to the colorway and our smoother yarns like our Fine Sock take dye beautifully dappled.  Yarn Singles and all the Silk Merino’s add a sheen.



The Shifty Sweater

Shifty Sweater in Life in the Long Grass
By Emma (@TheNewYorkYear)


When I see a beautifully hand-dyed skein of yarn, I often try to pinpoint where I have seen that color before—either in a painting, sculpture, or work of architecture. As an art historian, I’ve spent years studying works of art and architecture in my professional and academic life. However, in the last six months, I have started looking to fine art as my source of inspiration for my knitting.

While studying abroad in London during university, one of the masterpieces I was able to spend a great deal of time reading about and looking at was Titian’sThe death of Actaeon

The Sweater Pattern by Andrea Mowry – Drea Renee Knits

I find a lot of joy in creating my own handmade wardrobe. It’s quite special to be able to create a garment with my own hands, especially one that is entirely unique to my color preferences and pattern modifications. When knitwear designer Andrea Mowry released the Shifty Sweater, I was struck by how each version and sample I saw appeared to be completely singular because of yarn and color choices made by each individual knitter. The motif of slipped stitches seemed like an excellent opportunity to play with color.

Variegated Colors

As I was sorting through my collection of Life in the Long Grass, I was drawn to three particular skeins of LITLG Singles:  Burnished, Bronze and Oxidized are all colorways that look like they could have been plucked directly from Titian’s Death of Acteon – Bronze has the same deep burgundy hue as the dress Diana is wearing; Burnished contains dark green shades that are similar to the forest floor, and Oxidized has subtle shades that mimic the variety of colors in the shadowy treetops and clouds.

Base Color

Andrea Mowry’s original design calls for a yarn that changes color multiple times in a single skein, but I thought using a variegated yarn for the main color would only detract from the set of three LITLG Singles that I had grouped together. Instead, I decided to use the neutral (and perfectly named) colorway Oyster in LITLG Singles for my main color. The design and my color combinations really let the contrasting colors shine!

Changing bases from Sport to Singles

Although the Shifty Sweater is designed for a sport-weight yarn, I found I achieved a similar gauge by using a LITLG Singles (a fingering weight, single-ply yarn) and going down one needle size.

Andrea Mowry splits the mosaic knitting stitch motifs into two charts, which she calls “Big Blips” and “Little Blips,” that alternate throughout the sweater. I decided to stripe my three contrasting colors: starting with Bronze, continuing to Oxidized, and then using Burnished. After one section of “Big Blips” and one section of “Little Blips,” I would change my contrasting color.

I love the interplay of color that happens between the three contrasting colorways and was especially excited when the dark red speckles in Oxidized would appear next to passages of Bronze. I further modified the sweater design by lengthening the sleeves so they would be full-length rather than three-quarter length. Additionally, I knit the body so it ends at my natural waist—cropped enough so that I can pair it with long skirts and easily throw it over dresses.

I am incredibly pleased with how the sweater turned out. I feel like the combination of sweater and yarn design could not have been better suited for one another. Even before I finished knitting the ribbing at the hem, I was already planning outfits that would complement it in my existing closet, which for me is always a sign that it is going to be a wardrobe staple going forward!

Emma is currently designing her own gorgeous sock patterns check her out on Ravelry now.  

Fuyu Peace Shawl

Beatrice Mase LITLG hand dyed yarn
Beatrice Mase is one of our favorite designers for shawls, socks, and mittens.  We asked her to design a shawl for Christmas with peace in mind.  After a changeable and challenging year, we felt that ending it with a soft peaceful knit would be what we all need.  Here is what she is working on called the Fuyu Shawl which means winter in Japanese.  Here are some thoughts from Beatrice on the process of the shawl.

A walk in the woods in October. Leaves are falling on my knitting and making themselves comfortable.   Autumn is everywhere but I’m thinking of winter. I want to design a winter shawl – light and warm, rustic and elegant, comforting, and beautiful with some natural merino/linen and two seasonal colors from Litlg.  My inspiration is always the time or place that I’m in and the yarn that has called to me.  My job is to piece both these aspects together to create a design.   Here are some images of what I’ve created so far, pattern should be finished in a few weeks and kits will be available on they would be the loveliest Christmas present for that special knitter in your life or a wonderful peacefully knit for yourself.


“I always fall for rich browns and dark yellows but my inspiration this time is to cast on with the gorgeous natural merino linen, and contrast it (both in colors and bases) with darker variegated colorways. I love how soft these singles base feels. 

On a background of merino linen, I want the contrast colors to appear barely knitted, like delicate fallen leaves settling comfortably against the rustic off-white, highlighting its beauty.

I have never liked the idea of a side being wrong. What’s wrong with the wrong side, so I’ve chosen stitches which, while looking good and complimenting one another on both sides, show off the wonderful colors.”

Kits will be available in the coming weeks with the printed pattern just in time for Xmas.  

We already love her previous designs on Ravelry and we have some kits currently in our store for the following patterns: