Sheepspot

Hand-dyeing terms, demystified.

what we doAlicia de los ReyesComment

Have you ever read a label or online description of yarn or fiber and wondered what exactly the dyer was talking about? Over the next few weeks I'm going to demystify dyeing terms and help you pick the ideal skein or bump for your next project. Find the whole series here.

In my last post, I talked about what hand-dyed means (anything that is dyed by a maker or a small business, rather than an industrial dye house). This week, I'll talk about four common methods of hand-dyeing: hand-painting, immersion-dyeing, low-water immersion dyeing (also known as kettle dyeing) and dip-dyeing

Left: immersion-dyed yarn. Top right: a kettle-dyed bump. Bottom right: a hand-painted bump, in the same colorway.

Left: immersion-dyed yarn. Top right: a kettle-dyed bump. Bottom right: a hand-painted bump, in the same colorway.

Hand-painting is exactly what it sounds like: the dyer pours or paints dye onto yarn or fiber laid out in a flat loop. This is the most time-consuming method, but it gives the dyer the most control over color placement.

Immersion-dyeing is probably what you imagine when you picture someone dyeing yarn: the dyer puts the yarn or fiber into a big pot of dye with lots of water. This process is usually used to make solid colors.

Low-water immersion (or kettle) dyeing: This process is somewhere between hand-painting and immersion-dyeing. The dyer places the yarn or fiber in a shallow pan with just a little water, and then applies the color (or colors). When only one color is used, this technique can produce a semi-solid. When multiple colors are used, the delineations between them are softer as the water will cause the colors to blend.

Dip-dyeing is usually used with yarn, and is a cross between immersion-dyeing and hand painting in which different parts of the skein are dunked into different dyes. 

Here at Sheepspot I do a little of everything except dip-dyeing. Solids are immersion-dyed, semi-solids are kettle-dyed, and variegateds are hand-painted or kettle-dyed.

In my next post, I'll share how these different techniques affect your finished product. Stay tuned!

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