Thursday, August 6, 2015

NLVK's Dye Day and the Results - Amazing!

Hand Dyeing Yarns

At Friday Night Knitting last week, a bunch of us were showing off our hand-dyed yarns from July’s dye day meeting.  We all had a blast, but some of us weren’t as happy as we’d hoped with our finished product.

What does hand dyed really mean?  I checked with one of my favorite knitting authors, Clara Parkes of Knitters Review, in her 2007 The Knitter’s Book of YarnParkes discusses all the ways of dyeing yarn – from huge vat dyeing done on an industrial scale, to smaller vat dyeing done with more subtly, to immersion dyeing, and finally to hand painting or hand dyeing.

Each method has its purpose and place, and its unique product.

Then there’s the choice of dyeing the roving versus dyeing the spun yarn.  Much more subtlety can be achieved if the roving is dyed, and then various colors are spun together to create just what you’re looking for.  Think of Noro yarns.

Or, rather than just using a bottle of dye marked red, mix yellow and orange, and maybe blue, and even a little black for some depth, to create your own red.

Hand-paint yarns also offer unique knitting challenges.  Some are designed to self-stripe based on a certain number of stitches per row, like many sock yarns.  Some are just wild mixes of color that will do what they will do.  Others can be examined to determine what they’re most likely going to do when knit.

Knitter’s magazine K111 includes an article, Taming Color with Magic Numbers.  Author Laura Bryant,, talks about cross-dyed hanks, and dyed-around hanks, and how you can determine the Magic Number, which will allow YOU to decide how your hand-dyed yarn will work up.  With just a change of a few stitches, knitting can go from stacked colors or splotches of pooling to an argyle look!!  Check out this You-Tube from Knitting Daily about this technique

I've added Artful Color-Mindful Knits to my wish list at Amazon.  I want to dye a skein of sock yarn so that I can get that argyle look!! 

Twist Collective is a great site, too.  Check out this interesting article titled Planned Pooling .   

This is Rachel’s project – her daughter, Marcail, dyed four skeins of yarn, and had a specific plan.  Rachel’s knitting with two of the yarns to make a larger, denser sweater – mixing the two differently dyed yarns looks great! I think we’ve got a budding fiber artist there!

Autumn dyed her yarn a whole bunch of colors (isn’t it great – looks like a box of crayons with extra blues and greens), and then used a stitch pattern other than regular stockinette or garter stitch, which makes the yarn work and look different.

Maybe you had one particular thing in mind, but your finished product doesn’t meet that goal.  It’s NEVER wrong or bad, it’s just not what you had in your head.  So, make lemonade!

I guess the take-away here is that no matter what you’ve got, you can do amazing things with it.  

Kathy Meggitt


  1. Love this blog! Keep 'em coming :)

  2. Love this blog! Keep 'em coming :)

  3. And you can also use another color, either neutral or contrast-y, to help with a yarn that isn't exactly what you planned it to be.