Sheepspot

What does "hand-dyed" mean, anyway?

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 couple of 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.*

Rambouillet Sport in Cardinal is an immersion-dyed yarn.

Rambouillet Sport in Cardinal is an immersion-dyed yarn.

First up: hand-dyed. "Hand-dyed" refers to a variety of techniques, from hand-painting to dip-dyeing. I use the term to refer to any yarn or fiber that's dyed by a small company or an individual dyer, rather than a big industrial dye house.

Bond Pencil Roving (with a little silk) in Ignite is hand-painted here at Sheepspot.

Bond Pencil Roving (with a little silk) in Ignite is hand-painted here at Sheepspot.

Hand-dyeing gives you access to a much wider range of color choices than would otherwise be available. It also often entails more painstaking or complex dyeing processes than are possible for larger companies. And, it bears the "mark of the maker" who dyed it; for most hand-dyers, big dye lots of identical skeins aren't our objective. To me, this makes hand-dyed yarns wonderfully interesting to work with, but it can present some challenges that I'll get into later in the series.

There are many methods of hand-dyeing yarn; in this series I'm going to talk about four of the most common: hand-paintingimmersion-dyeinglow-water immersion dyeing (sometimes referred to as kettle dyeing) and dip-dyeing. Here at Sheepspot I use almost all of them. I'll take an in-depth look at each one in the next post, and then go on to discuss how different dye techniques will affect your finished objects, as well as ways to have more control over your final results.

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