As you can see this week there is no video. I suffered an injury on my hand and I cannot knit well at the moment. Therefore I have this written post for you.
We receive a lot of positive feedback from our customers about the colors of our yarns. As with many things in life there are two important things about hand dyeing yarns: education and experience. In today’s blog post I will talk about dyeing different types of fibers and how to care for them.
The first and most important thing you have to consider is if a fiber is coming from an animal or from a plant. Due to the proteins within the fibers they will behave quite differently during the dye process. At SKEINO we work mostly with merino and alpaca yarns on the animal side and with bamboo blends on the plant side. We also use silk blends. They are not made from plants but they behave similarly to the latter. Here is what differences there are between them:
Merino Superwash Yarns
Merino yarns can be treated so that they become ‘superwash’, meaning that the fibers will lose the ability to felt. Finished products that have been knitted with a superwash yarn can be machine washed and do not felt. However be careful: ‘superwash’ does not mean you can just use any of the settings of your washing machine. Think about the skill, time and effort you have put into your handcrafted piece. Give your favorite shawl, jacket or socks a long life by choosing a gentle setting with less agitation and less temperature.
Superwash yarns from animal fibers are fascinating to me as a hand dyer. Dye powders react much more intense with them, creating wonderfully vibrant and brilliant colors.
I have experimented a lot with superwash yarns in order to learn their secrets and behavior. I learned that applying the dye liquid on very wet yarns creates different shades than on on dry spun yarns. I also found out that pastels only need very few dye pigments.
Very interesting is the fact that superwash yarns are able to go through a dye process twice without being damaged. I have over dyed several colors and they look stunning! However this will only work when dyeing a lighter yarn into a darker color.
Merino wool blended with plant fibers (Bamboo or Rayon) will be quite shiny after the dye process. However the plant fibers in the blended yarn are not taking the dyes as much as pure animal fibres. The result is that colors are mainly on the pastel side.
Silks and silk blended yarns show the sheen of the silk. The more silk is in the blend, the more sheen you will see.
Alpaca fibers on the other hand are not as bright but very beautiful and they support the softness of the yarn.
Here are some examples of the different fibers:
Merino supewash yarn: Note how brightly the colors pop
Bamboo / Merino blend superwash yarn: the plant fibers (bamboo) are taking less dye pigment than the merino fibers. The result is a “silvery sheen”
Tencel / Merino superwash blend: The Tencel (rayon fibers) takes very few dye pigments creating an even stronger and beautiful sheen
100% Fine Merino Farm Yarn: While showing vibrant colors a “frosty” effect can be seen (burgundy part of the skein)
60% silk / 40% merino blend: While still showing vibrant colors, the silk creates a wonderful sheen
I hope you enjoyed this exclusive insight to the secrets of hand dyeing yarn. This post has a more technical approach to it but I tried to keep it easy to understand. If you are a hand dyer yourself, you might want to try one or two things I mentioned in this post. If you are a knitter this article might help you to understand why a yarn has a certain look & feel to it.
When designing a SKEINO knitting kit my starting point is always to choose the perfect yarn for the piece. Many things have to be taken into account such as the season of the year, weight of the yarn and intensity of the colors and how to combine them, just name a few.
I hope you enjoyed this rather long post. For any questions please use the comment section below.
And as always: #happyknitting