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caring for hand dyed yarn

All the yarns we sell are designed to wear well. There’s little worse than spending many hours making something that immediately pills or shows signs of wear and we choose yarns which should retain their good looks for years.

Before You Begin

Your yarn will most likely have reached you in a skein. We recommend that you leave it like that until you are ready to start your project. Skeins stop yarn getting tangled and don’t put stress on the fibers. If you live in an area where there’s a problem with moths or other insects then we’d recommend storing your yarn in airtight containers.

Washing Your Yarn

We don’t recommend that you wash your yarn before you use it. It’s ready to use.

We do recommend that you wash a swatch in whatever way you’ll wash the finished item. The kindest way to wash knitting is in cool or lukewarm water with a little mild detergent. Allow the knitting to soak for 20 minutes, then rinse with clean water at the same temperature. Allow the water to drain, gently squeeze the knitting to remove excess water and dry flat, pinning to shape if required. Rolling the knitting up in a towel and standing on it is a great way to remove excess water.

How We Set Colours

Our yarns are dyed in large pots with acid dyes. We use heat and citric acid to set the colours. Once the water in the dye pot is clear the yarn is lifted out and allowed to drain. Once the yarn is cool it’s rinsed and spun to remove excess water. If we see any hint of colour in the water coming from the spin dryer the yarn goes back into a pot with clean water and citric acid and the process is repeated again.

In an ideal world this would mean that our yarns were 100% colourfast and no dye would ever bleed. That’s not the case, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

Dyes are designed to be fast (that’s to not bleed) when washed in cold or luke warm water. Hotter water will cause dye loss. This is true with both commercial and indie dyed yarns.

Wool wash can pull dye from yarns, and some brands are more aggressive than others. We recommend a small amount of mild detergent like washing up liquid (and it’s a fraction of the price too)

Some fibers are more likely to bleed dye than others. Yarns which aren’t super wash treated and silk are both harder for every dye particle to attach to firmly.

Dye is bleeding. Help!

Once you’ve made a swatch and soaked it you might see dye in the water.

Often this is caused by loose dye, and the process of winding and working with the yarn can cause a few of dye particles to come loose. Dye in water is much like blood in water – it doesn’t take much to look very dramatic. If the dye is properly set then rinsing the swatch in cool water a few times should see the water stay completely clear.

If your swatch contains several colours and dye is bleeding it’s worth changing the water after a minute or two to prevent darker dyes marking lighter colours. Remember that dyes need heat and acid to set, so loose dye isn’t immediately going to fix onto another colour in the same dye bath.

If the swatch keeps bleeding and is getting lighter the dye isn’t properly set. If it’s a skein of our yarn please get in touch and we’ll sort this out for you. If it’s a skein of yarn that someone else dyed please get in touch with them.

Crocking

Crocking is when dye from the yarn stains your hands as you work with it. It’s caused by the pH value of your skin attracting dye particles. It’s not just an issue in yarn, and you’ll often see labels on clothing warning that dye can transfer. Crocking doesn’t mean that the dye will bleed when the yarn gets wet. There’s very little we can do to prevent crocking. Less saturated colours use less dye so there’s less colour to transfer.

The best way to get dye off your hands is to mix a little sugar and washing up liquid together then add a few drops of water. The combination of detergent and exfoliation works wonderfully. You can also use salt, but if you’ve got any tiny cuts these will sting!

Sock Yarns

Socks take more abuse than anything most of us will make, and a combination of the right yarn and correct tension will make a world of difference. Yarns need to be spun with lots of twist. Strong fibers create hard wearing yarns, so our sock yarns can contain nylon. Socks need to be knitted at a tight tension, otherwise the fabric won’t stand up to the friction that wearing them will create. We don’t believe that sock yarns need to contain super wash wool. When we recommend a yarn for socks you’ll find that information in the listing. Britsock, BFL & Nylon and DK Whitefaced Woodland yarns all work well for socks.

Super Wash Yarn

The super wash process uses chemicals to strip tiny hooks from wool fibers making it harder for them to felt. Some super wash yarn also has a plastic coating (but we don’t sell those). However those processes mean that the yarn will survive a trip through a washing machine on a wool wash cycle and may be more comfortable for those with especially sensitive skin. If you do want to machine wash your finished garment please test a swatch first. Machines and detergents vary a great deal. We can check how a superwash yarn behaves in our machine and with our detergent, but that doesn’t guarantee a safe trip through the wash for your masterpiece.

Synthrapol

Synthrapol is a chemical which removed dye that hasn’t bonded with yarn or fabric. We don’t use it because it’s harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. Synthrapol is caustic and can burn skin. If you decide you want to use this chemical please read the safety information first and make sure it get stored in a safe place.

Knots in Yarn

We reskein our yarns before they’re sold and it’s very rare that we need to tie a knot in a skein. If there’s more than one knot the skein will be discounted and there will be a note in the description explaining why. We use an electric skein winder so we won’t know about any knots which were put in during the spinning process. As most of our yarns are not super wash treated joins are done by splicing the yarns together. These splices are strong enough to work through and are not visible in finished work.

Questions?

Please get in touch. We’re always happy to give advice about our yarns.