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.