Caring for Hand-Dyed Yarns

caring for yarn hand dyed yarn

In all of my self-published books (which you can see here), most of the patterns are made with hand-dyed yarns.  I love indie dyers. I always want to support small businesses as I am a small business too.  I think it is very important to support each other in this way. I am always on the lookout for new hand dyers to work with! 

But taking care of hand-dyed yarns can be tricky sometimes.  If the color isn't set properly, it can bleed into other colors that may be in your project. Sometimes there are special fiber blends, such as silk or linen (or even milk or corn!), that may require you to take some extra special care when laundering your project. Today I want to talk to you about how to make sure your yarns stay as wonderful as the day you got them!

Colorfastness 

I have a little trick I do to let me know if a yarn’s color has been set correctly for colorfastness.  I cut a small piece of the yarn off and let it soak in a glass of water. If the color bleeds into the water changing the color from clear to something else then you know that you might need to be cautious about how you deal with the yarn. Put the hank in a lingerie bag and wash it in a gentle cycle in your washing machine or hand soak for a bit then lay flat to dry.  I use a bit of wool wash but you don't necessarily have to do that. If you are still having bleeding issues, especially if you are finding that the color bleeds on your hands, contact the dyer for other recommendations.

If you are using colors such as red or black, or any dark color with a lighter color, always check the colorfastness. Prepping the yarn before you start crocheting or knitting will save you heartache later!

Working with Hand-Dyed Yarns

Each hank of hand-dyed yarn is unique. Sometimes the color varies from hank to the next. This can be a problem when you are crocheting or knitting along and you add the next hank.  All of a sudden one section of the project is darker than the other.

This color difference is normal because everything is done by hand!  Although the dyers try hard to keep the colors the same, there is always some sort of difference. To avoid having this obvious difference in color on the project, make sure you work two hanks at a time.

This is how I do it:

  1. Work two rows with the first hank.
  2. Pick up the next hank and work two rows
  3. Pick up the first hand and work two rows
  4. Keep going back and forth in this manner to blend the two hanks.

Laundering Your Hand Dyed Yarn Project

The type of fibers in your hand-dyed yarn is going to determine how you launder your project.

Animal fibers can be wet soaked in a sink.  I don’t recommend putting the item in the washing machine the first time you wash the project unless you had to do some additional prepping before you started.  Always wash in cold water and use a wool wash or a gentle detergent. If you soak the piece, lay it out on a towel and roll it up and press to get the excess water out.  Always lay flat to dry, shaping or blocking as you need to.

If you have a yarn that is in some form at least a part linen or silk, I do not recommend soaking or machine washing at all.  If the project is in need of cleaning, I would bring it to the dry cleaner and carefully instruct them about what fibers are in the piece.  If you just need to block the piece, do a steam block with a hot iron or steamer, making sure you get the project damp but not soaking. And make sure you do not touch the piece with the iron or steamer.  I have found you can melt fibers that way. (ask me how I know)

Cotton is a beast of its own.  I recommend a steam block but others will soak or machine wash on a gentle cycle  If in doubt, take to the dry cleaners.

If there is a specialty fiber like bamboo, milk, corn or something else, I would recommend reading the label and contacting the dyer if you are still unsure what to do.

I hope this little post answers questions about working with hand-dyed yarns!  If you have any other questions on this topic, I am glad to answer them!


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