10 RULES WHEN DYEING YARN – HOW WE CREATE OUR COLORWAYS

Sea of SKEINO yarn

A sea of yarn. All of it hand dyed. Are there any rules a dyer has to follow?

We’re happy that SKEINO is known for superior quality yarns and colors. All of our colors are created by imagination. Sparks of inspiration came from many sources such as flowers and plants, weather, landscapes as well as music just to name a few.

All the colorways that we created over time needed to be documented and captured in recipes. It requires a lot of discipline to turn all that joy for creating colorways into solid documentation so we can repeat the colorways over and over again with as little fluctuation as possible. Nevertheless it’s a never-ending passion to create new colorways so I won’t complain about that!

Still there are basic rules you have to follow when creating a colorway. Here are 10 things (in no particular order) a dyer has to take into account when dyeing yarn:

  1. The deepness or lightness of a color – rich or pastel

The main difference lies of course in the amount of dyes used. More dye means a richer tone. Getting it just right is not always easy. Not all dyes will dilute equally so there’s a lot of experimenting, especially when a colorway should be created in a rich and pastel tone.

  1. Contrasting colors or not

This is important in two situations: The first is when dyeing a single skein. Color contrasts might be interesting and beautiful or they might destroy the whole thing. The other situation occurs when creating a more-than-one-skein-project. In our Miss Grace Shawl for example, we where experimenting for a long time when choosing the tones for each colorway in order to make sure that the contrasts would fit. Do this right and you will dye a unique colorway. Do it wrong and you might spoil the beautiful yarn or the finished piece.

Bjorn from SKEINO smiling wearing his apron

That’s me in my dyeing outfit. Ready to go!

  1. Color shades – staying in one color

This becomes important when creating gradient colorways. Again it requires skill and experience to create a recipe for a colorway that will slowly AND steadily create a gradient you will love.

  1. Neighboring colors – blue next to yellow will create green

Remember when painting with watercolors in school? This is not too far from it. Just like watercolors, our colors will fade into each other too. Most of the time this is just what you want. However you have to make sure that you don’t end up with a totally different color than you intended to create in the first place.

  1. Proportions of the color section – short or wide

This becomes important for the main appearance of a skein of yarn. A wide stripe of red makes a skein mainly red. After that, just smaller sections of additional colors might support the red or make the red less important. In any case a dyer should think about this before starting with her or his work.

a person dyeing SKEINO yarn

Dyeing yarn requires concentration and experience

  1. The dyeing technique

This is a most kept secret among dyers and we won’t get into too much detail either. Only so much can be revealed: Each dyeing technique will generate a different result. Use the wrong technique and you’ll end up with spots, uneven colors or colors that were intended to be darker or lighter than they came out. At SKEINO we sometimes create new techniques for certain types of yarn just to get this right!

  1. Plant fiber or animal fiber

Plant fibers need a different technique to be dyed than animal (protein) fibers. The dyes will work less bright and vibrant on cotton or linen. Acid dyes will dye any wool bright and vibrant and the dyed yarn is resisted to light and water. Here at SKEINO we are “acid dyers” and prefer animal fibers on our dye table. Several yarns are blends with plant fibers such as bamboo or Tencel. Because of the blended fiber, the yarn becomes a silvery shine and appears more pastel.

  1. Superwash or not?

Superwash yarns are treated to be cleaned in a washer. Because of this process the dyes are able to color a yarn much darker and brighter. Untreated yarns are also easy to dye, but with more dyes and the colors will be softer. The dyer must know the yarn before mixing the dyes.

  1. Personal taste

Every person has a different taste and there can be no criticism to that. As a dyer however you have to take into account that just because you don’t like light green, your customers might not feel the same way. A personal touch is great and wanted but at SKEINO we always try to cover a broad palette for our colorways.

  1. Fashion trends

If you have been knitting for a long time you know that the fashion industry is constantly repeating itself or, in a more positive way, it takes inspiration from the past. However there are seasons and there are trends that can’t be denied. A dyer does good to know these trends, deciding if they should follow them or ignore them.


All these aspects need to be brought together to create a new colorway. Sounds like a lot, huh? Here at SKEINO we try to cover all aspects, tastes and (some of) what the fashion industry tells us.

Besides all of this, we’re bold enough to have our very own colorways. We’re happy to say that our customers compliment what we create and so it’s easy to keep going.

Be assured that all our yarns and knitting kits were carefully designed to achieve the best result when being hand dyed.

I want to encourage all of you, to pick your most favorable color. Remember what you like to wear and how a new shawl would fit into this color range. You’re going to put all your skills and time into the new piece and we always like to know that you’re happy with your color choice.

So… What should we create next? Is there anything your would like to see? Let me know in the comment section!

Happy Knitting!

Bjorn

SCARVES AND MORE SCARVES – OUR PARTNER LARC HAS SOMETHING FOR YOU!

LARC people with special needs holding scarves

Every scarf is named after a person at LARC.

Today’s post will not be about Bjorns knitting experiences or techniques – in fact it’s not even knitting related. Today we want to share with you a new project that has been in the making for a long time and now the project has started .

As you might know SKEINO collaborates closely with organizations that employ people with special needs in Germany and the US.

We were looking for a high quality, inexpensive product that would appeal to everyone.

While most of the hand dying of our yarns is done in Germany, our partner in Florida, LARC, Inc. is helping SKEINO with the packaging and labeling of our products that we send out every day.

Well, we thought there is still more we can do and since Bjorn is also a master weaver, together with the people from LARC we came up with an idea: Why don’t we take high quality machine made woven scarves and have them packed by the people with special needs to generate more work and thus more jobs?

So we contacted the market leader for high quality machine made scarves in Germany, V. FRAAS. They are well known for making shawls for all kinds of big fashion brands and they were kind enough to do business with our partner LARC.

Together we were looking for a high quality, inexpensive product that would appeal to everyone. Also we wanted something that would be made in Europe or the US in order to ensure great quality and support the businesses there.

 Cashmink is a synthetic fiber that is finer than any natural fiber, 20% softer than Cashmere and water resistant. It’s also Hypoallergenic and produced in an eco-friendly way. We all thought that sounded great!

The result of this is the LARC Woven Scarves: They are made in Germany and packaged here in the USA by the people with special needs. Every scarf will come with a label that has a photograph and name of the person who packaged it, as well as their signature.

The material used is called Cashmink, a fiber trademarked by FRAAS. Cashmink is a synthetic fiber that is finer than any natural fiber, 20% softer than Cashmere and water resistant. It’s also Hypoallergenic and produced in an eco-friendly way. We all thought that sounded great!

The first boxes full of scarves arrived at LARC yesterday and now they will be labeled and packaged by the people with special needs.

Amy1

Colorway Amy

Jerry1

Colorway Jerry

Natasha1

Colorway Natasha

Willie1

Colorway Willie

As a first step we will add the LARC scarves to our offer on SKEINO in the gift section later this week. The next step is contacting regional and national businesses in the gift sector. It’s a small start but you never know where it might take you.

If you own or know a business that wants to support the people at LARC by purchasing these scarves wholesale, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to forward it to the right person at LARC. Thank you.

As always, if you have any questions or recommendations please let us know in the comment section!

HOW TO CHOOSE KNITTING NEEDLES THAT ARE RIGHT FOR YOU

Many needles and some SKEINO yarn

This is only a small percentage of all the needles in my drawer…

There is an ocean of different knitting needles out there and every knitter seems to have a drawer full of them at home. Still most of the time when you open that drawer and look through your needles you just can’t seem to find the right one. That’s when a knitter thinks about going for a quick trip to Walmart or Michaels but then you know the saying: Buy cheap, buy twice… I think having a good set of great knitting needles handy is the right way to go if you are a serious knitter.

I have quite a bunch of needles and honestly there are some bad ones among them too. You might have experienced the same thing: Some needles keep on “surviving” as you use them over and over again while others break on the first project. So what should you look for when buying knitting needles that fit YOUR personality and knitting style? Here are a few tips based on my experience:

The Material

Some knitters prefer wooden needles over metal needles because of the feel or if they suffer from arthritis. First of all: whatever you prefer you should go for it. Wooden needles should be made from hard wood or bamboo so that they won’t split or wear off fast, especially on the tips. Metal needles are OK, but make sure they’re made of stainless steel or nickel-plated. Forget the old ones from aluminum, they will corrode sooner or later.

Corroded aluminium knitting needles

Aluminium knitting needles will eventually corrode

Straight or circular

Using straight or circular needles is another decision you have to make. I’ve always preferred circular needles, because I strongly dislike long needles – my neck would start to get stiff and the ends of the needles would always fight the armrests in my chair or even my neighbors when sitting on an airplane. As you surely know, round needles are handy for knitting in the round but there is more: Knitting back and forth on a circular needle always gives me the pleasure to know that I’m doing it right.

Good circular needles

I love to use circular knitting needles

Circular needles with a wiry lace between the actual knitting parts (making up the size) can give you a severe headache throughout your project. Using the wrong needles you’ll never get rid of the spirals the needle will make. The knitting process will become tedious. My recommendation is to always watch for a soft lace, you will spend more money, but it will be worth it and it will guarantee joyful knitting. Another point is the connection between the needles and the lace. It needs to be very smooth and strong. I recently had to repair one with scotch tape to finish my project. You can also buy a set of interchangeable circular knitting needles. They will work fine if the quality is good.

Bad circular knitting needles

The lace is curling up, not a good pair of needles

Good knitting needles

That’s better! The lace of these needles doesn’t curl up. That will make your knitting a lot more joyful.

Repaired knitting needles

This was an emergency repair when the lace of a needle came off in the middle of a project

Long or Short

Making a decision about the length of your circular needle is easy. When you knit a scarf the long way you don’t need a very long needle. Think about the yarn – you can push the stitches together. A third of your actual project width will give you the right length. Here’s another tip I find particularly useful: Sometimes I just use two needles from a set of double pointed needles to knit a scarf. They’re just fine in length. I put a larger bead or a cork on one end to keep the stitches from falling off the needles.

Knitting Needles with Yarn

I put a bread on double-sided needles to prevent the stitches from falling off

So that was my little knitting needle class # 101. What are your favorite needles? Do you know any other tips and tricks related to knitting needles? Let me know in the comments-section!

And as always,

Happy Knitting!

Bjorn

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BLOCK YOUR FINISHED PIECES

Today I want to share some of my experience with you. I’ll tell you why I don’t like to block my finished pieces and give you an alternative that I find more natural and gentle for the fibers of my projects.

First things first: what is blocking?

Blocking is a method of stretching and shaping a finished knitted piece to reach the dimensions suggested in the pattern. It’s also used to make two pieces that need to match the same size or to make your stitches look nicer and more even.

A blocked cardigan

A blocked cardigan

Wait a minute! That actually doesn’t sound too bad! Knitted projects often won’t come out perfect as soon as you bind off so shouldn’t you use blocking to tell the stitches where to sit?

Well, let me tell you. I’ve been knitting for half a century now (Oh, am I really that old!?) and here is why I usually don’t block my finished pieces:

  1. First of all blocking won’t make up for those stitches you forgot to decrease or that little section where you went off pattern. It’s hard to hide knitting mistakes.
  2. Blocking can mistreat your piece, fibers will suffer from being forced to do something they don’t want to do naturally.
  3. I like my pieces fluffy; naturally taking their shape and staying true to my work.
  4. Blocking cannot make up for sizing issues. If the sleeves on a knitted garment are too short you need to add some extra rows.
  5. In the end blocking a piece into shape will only last until you wash the piece. As I mentioned before textile fibers have a life of their own and they don’t like to be forced into a shape they’re not designed to go.

Having said that there are situations when blocking makes sense: For example the art of lace knitting. Here you should use blocking to show the lace knitting by stretching the piece out and pin it to a grid to open it up. You will not mistreat the piece in that case because you worked all the openings into the shawl.

Blocked lace shawl

Blocking Lace is an option since it won’t hurt the fibers.

As you might know by now I love to do things my way and I have so much fun thinking out of the box. When I created SKEINO’s Miss Grace Free Form Shawl I could have blocked the piece but I didn’t. Here is how I treated my finished piece. If you purchased the kit this might be an inspiration for you once you’re finished with your knitting.

Firstly I gently machine-washed the shawl using a mild detergent. The yarn is superwash so machine-washing is a wonderful feature about this shawl. After that I spun the piece at high speed and dried it in a machine dryer at low temperature for 3 min. Then I put the shawl outside on a warm tile surface into the sun (Here’s where the Florida climate comes in handy!). Not forcing it, I perfectly shaped the triangle the way the shawl allowed me do it. Resting on top of the warm tiles I let the Miss Grace Shawl dry in the sun. The piece came out great. It was perfectly shaped with wonderful memory, great drape and wrinkle free both now and into the future.

SKEINO Miss Grace Shawl drying in the sun after washing

This is the original Miss Grace Shawl model resting on hot tiles and drying in the sun.

Conclusion

As we said blocking will not make up for any mistakes in knitting, material or size. It’s merely a process to help you shape your piece after knitting it up. But there are alternatives:

A scarf, shawl, cowl or even a poncho and a cape should be cuddly and drape well. Wash your piece gentle by hand or in a machine (if it’s a superwash yarn). Don’t be afraid to spin it, the drum only runs in one direction and will not felt your piece. It’s the agitation (back and forth) that causes a piece to felt. The dryer is a very good tool to make your piece fluffy but watch the temperature and the timing – it’s crucial! Stay close to the dryer and test the progress every few minutes to be sure that you don’t ruin the piece. It should always come out damp for the final air dry. If you have a warm, sunny surface let your piece dry in a shape it allows you to.

What are your experiences with blocking? Are there any arguments pro or contra blocking that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the Comments section!

Love,

Bjorn