What’s so special about hand-dyed yarn? Merion’s here to tell you all about it!
Hand dyed yarns from The Yarn Collective
Knitting with hand-dyed yarn is a glorious colour adventure! Whether your shade slides gently from tone to tone, or skips from one colour into another, every row is a delicious shade story that unfolds with each click of the needles.
There are various hand-dying methods – and I’ve written about them here in detail – but what thrills me about hand dyed yarns, is the very fact that they’ve been individually lovingly dyed by a person, that someone has handled that skein of yarn and carefully either hand painted or dipped it into kettles of dye. There’s such an incredible skill in that dyeing process, performed by true artisans – knowing precisely when to submerge yarn into dye, how long to leave it, keeping the temperatures safe to avoid felting. I talked to an indie dyer at a yarn show last year who told me he “dreamt” his shades – and woke in the middle of the night to write them down and plan them!
Often, the hand dyeing process supports social enterprise – in Peru and Uruguay particularly, there are many yarn companies who have built schools for local children, provide employment for local families – primarily women, and several are staffed entirely by women’s collectives. Manos del Uruguay is committed to the development of rural women, and is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation, and Malabrigo mostly employs women of all ages, and “always tries to give job opportunities to people that have fewer opportunities than the average.” There is also an environmental element to the manufacturing process – using as little water and few chemical processes as possible.
Beautiful hand-dyed Madelinetosh yarn
Creativity is what makes hand-dyed yarn such a joy to knit: your creativity as a knitter combined with the skills of the dyers. As you knit, a unique effect is revealed that makes your garment original – and how you manipulate the colour changes, by either letting the shades unfold as they were wound, or planning the pooling of colour, and your choice of shade, pattern and gauge – those elements are your creative contributions!
Sometimes, it can be to hard visualise how a hand-dyed yarn would translate from skein to garment – and I find one of the best ways to find out how is to look at pattern photography. Most manufacturers have patterns designed for their yarns, and you even if you can’t find the exact colourway, you can see how the yarn colour behaves.
If you haven’t tried knitting with hand dyed yarn, it’s a treasure trove of discovery! Your knitting will take on new dimensions, and you’ll create a truly original project! For more information about how to knit with hand-dyed yarns, click here for more blog posts!
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