My main business aim is to share a love of all things crafty….
I want to share my skills and passion and will always try my best to help my customers and crafty friends. There is no such thing as a daft question. We all start somewhere and learning from mistakes is important with knitting and crocheting.
I’ve shared some handy hints below but please if you are ever in doubt with a project or yarn choice, get in touch and I’ll do my very best to help.
In time, I hope to populate this area of the website with some handy video tutorials .
All hand dyed yarn is sold as a skein which is a continuous loop of yarn which is secured by ties and twisted to prevent tangling.
These need to be wound into a ball or cake before working with them. Working straight from the skein will result in a tangled mess and might cause you to fall out of love with your new yarn!
I offer a caking service so if you ever want your yarn ready wound just message me to ask in advance. Usually there is no charge for this unless you’d like something like 20 skeins wound – then I might have to charge for my time ;-)
If you don’t have a swift or ball winder at home, I’d recommend using the back of two dining chairs. Keep the ties on the skein and try to identify whether the strands are falling in the right direction. Sometimes a quick snap of yarn by pulling your the hands outwards is enough to get all the strands aligned.
Once the strands of yarn are all straight, slip the skein over the top of both chairs and pull the chairs apart until the yarn is taught. Only then can you remove the ties and release the final tie which usually has 4 strands to it. These will be the ends of your yarn. You can then begin to wind the yarn into a ball.
An obliging friend or family member’s out-stretched arms can be used instead, but remember chairs don’t tend to moan about it!
Each skein is dyed by hand. There will inevitably be variations from skein to skein, even from the same dye pot. I tend to dye 6 skeins in a pan at one time. All yarn in one particular shop listing will be from the same dye batch, so hopefully variations between skeins will be minimal.
Also, one particular colourway may look different on different fibre bases due to how each fibre takes up dye. For example, alpaca bases will always be paler in comparison with say a merino.
Ordering enough yarn is essential as I can’t guarantee that the same colourway from the same batch will be available if you need more. The meterage for each skein is provided within each listing and I’m happy to help advise how many skeins are needed for a particular pattern. If you do buy an extra skein to be on the safe side and don’t need it, I will happily change it out for another skein provided it is in the same condition as it was when you received it and it remains as a skein. I have to ask though that it is from a smoke and moth free home as no-one wants to buy smoked yarn and moths can be fatal to a yarn stash!
When knitting or crocheting garments, I would strongly recommend alternating skeins every few rows as it prevents any noticeable differences from skein to skein and helps prevent any pooling of one particular colour. Instead it will blend the two different skeins together.
Looking after your garments
Whilst most of the yarn I dye is superwash treated (meaning it can be machine washed without felting), I recommend washing all your projects by hand, using a gentle wool wash and drying flat or blocking to size. This will keep your colours bright and make the most of your special project.
The odd knitted sock with superwash merino falling into the machine will not be a disaster – it’ll come out fine however a supersoft lambswool or alpaca would felt and tears may ensue! Do not under any circumstances let other people loose on your hand made garments near the washing machine! My husband has learnt this lesson the hard way.
Swatching and Gauge
To swatch or not to swatch??? Most of the time, I have to admit, I don’t swatch but with a bit of experience I now know how my garments turn out when using a standard 4 ply with 3.5mm needles. If you don’t know whether you are tight or loose (wink, wink), my official guidance would be when making garments in particular, knit or crochet a 10 x 10cm swatch to be sure it turns out to the measurements the designer intended.
So, you’ve made a swatch but it doesn’t match the designers numbers. For example, you might have 24 stitches across rather than the intended 22. You might need to go down a needle or hook size to get closer to 22. You might think that 2 stitches doesn’t matter, but if you are making a sweater, that could result in 16 extra stitches or 10cm more than needed.
Go up a needle size to compensate for yarn floats pulling your stitches too tight.
Take a black and white photo of your colour choices together to see if there is enough contrast. Knit your project inside out so that the floats are slightly looser.
Hold the background colour in your left hand and contrasting colour in the right or vice versa – just be consistent.
Regularly untwist your two yarns.
Stretch out stitches as you go to avid floats being too tight.
Different Colour Techniques
The slippery slope of hand dyed yarns can be daunting. How do you visualize how they will look in a finished project?
Hand dyed yarns are completely unique and some would say an art form in themselves. Here’s a run down of the different types of hand dyed yarn and the terminology used:
Various colours used together in a random way, resulting in different lengths of colour throughout the skein. These can sometimes create pooling depending on the number of stitches in your project, where the same colour stacks up on top of the same colour. Depending upon how well distributed the colours are, you may get a lovely mottled random effect with colours blending into each other or pops of colour throughout. These are fun to knit up as your work continually changes.
Great for planned pooling projects. Dye is applied by painting on the skein in specific patterns so you can plan your pattern repeat. Unless the skein is very long (6 metres) you won’t get a true ‘self striping’ yarn from a standard length skein..
Fine splashes or speckles of colour are applied to a skein usually with a paintbrush. These give a random speckle or pop of colour every so often and creates random patterns. I like to use these a lot in my yarns as it helps break up sections of solid colour and adds another dimension to your project.
Various tones of the same or similar colours applied to a skein.
One colour skein with very slight differences in tone. Due to the nature of hand dyeing it is difficult to achieve a completely solid, well distributed colour. You might find very slight variations of depth of colour, however, there should not be obvious flashes of undyed yarn. Variations of colour add to the dimension of the knitting and add interest. These are great for projects with complicated or detailed patterns as it doesn’t over power.
OOAK (One of a kind)
I sometimes call these happy accidents! The vast majority of my hand dyed yarn is repeatable as I like to take notes of how each skein is dyed in a recipe book. However, sometimes I just experiment with colour, particularly with new dyes or bases, and sometimes they become regular repeatable colourways and sometimes they become one of a kind, never to be recreated again.