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Spotlight on hand-dying

For years I have oooh and aaah at the skill and craftsmanshop it takes to hand dyed a skein of yarn in a way that’s pleasing.

I tried it myself some time ago – both with blank hanks of yarn and roving, natural, food-colouring & acid dyes – and I have to say that my respect for the dying process, and the level of knowledge you need to get a good result, is high.

I’ve often, and at some volume, admit to being a dunce when it comes to colour theory.
I cannot match colours up well. There’s a reason I’m almost always in black. Black goes with everything. It does the job I can’t. It’s just not in my make-up to do a good job, so when I find a dyer who can do just that it feels as if I’m in the presence of an elemental god of some kind.

HOW did they know that lime green and that teal would blend so prettily?
HOW did they get that yarn to look exactly like a rusty nail, or a peacok’s tail feather, or a misty rainy day in March?!

So, getting to chat to a dyer and get down and dirty with their dye pots is always a pleasure. This is exactly what I did when I got to chat to Eve Chambers last year at Woollinn.
I used her delicious yarn for my most recent pattern: Manannan.


Here’s how she describes her process:

“I dye a lot of semi solids. In crochet, the stitch definition is vital. I found that commercially dyed yarns lacked a fluidity when I worked with them. A solid was flat. A gradient’s colour shifts took over the story of the stitches.

I was raised by an artist mother, and the alchemy of primary colour work that she used always fascinated me.

In dyeing my semi solids, especially the Pop range – I’m going back to the alchemy. The singles are dry. The semi immersion bath is ready and heat slowly rising. The skeins are added to the bath, and slowly sink beneath the surface as they soak up the bath. It’s a slow process, but by controlling the heat level, the dye strikes with a specific non uniformity on the skein, but with uniformity across the batch. Like all handdyed, there can be variations across batches, however the end effect of the Pop Collection is a watered silk look.

When you knit/crochet with Pops, you can see ripples of colour density, thus lifting or setting back your stitches, but always looking like light is moving in waves over your work.”

It’s safe to say, there’s a LOT more to it than “dying and drying”, as Gamercrafting explains in her latest YouTube Podcast.

Check out both Gamercrafting and Eve Chambers, folks! I love them both, and you will too.

1 thought on “Spotlight on hand-dying

  1. I tried hand dyeing once, with embroidery thread. It was a bit of a disaster if I’m honest. My problem was that I was too impatient to see the lovely colours. They just turned out to be washed out hints of dye, the visual equivalent of one teaspoon of orange squash in a bucket of water. But I still found a use for the threads so it wasn’t totally wasted. I still don’t have much patience so I let other people do the dyeing and I just enjoy the products.

    Congratulations on having Finola chosen for the Woollinn MAL. It’s one of my favourite designs because, being a bit on the big side, the construction of Finola allows me to just keep adding strips until it’s big enough. Likewise, I can change the yarn and hook if I want something finer or heavier and know that it’s one of those designs that I can work as many panels as needed for a good fit. So important when you’re not a standard size or shape, as you mentioned in a previous post.

    It’s currently 4am as I write this, I’ve spent a while reading all your posts and it’s lovely to get an insight into your mind and personality. Thank you for sharing. I must head off to bed now, I just felt the need to say hello and thank you 🙂

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