"Our yarn dyers started with eight base colourways and by the time they were finished with the dyepots, we had 60+ colourways to share with customers."
If you are under the impression that hand-dyed yarn is overpriced and you can buy the same thing in the commercial yarn store for cheaper, this article is for you. There are distinct differences between commercially dyed yarns and hand-dyed yarn. If you have never had the pleasure of knitting with hand-dyed yarn, we highly recommend it.
Mill-dyed yarn is dyed in large batches using synthetic dyes. The resulting color is more two-dimensional and very consistent. Commercially dyed yarn typically looks "flatter" than the richer colors produced when yarn is hand-dyed.
When independent yarn businesses hand-dye fibers, they carefully source high-quality yarns that will accept hand dye to produce brilliant, vibrant colors. Zen Yarn Garden works with base yarns Canada and Italy and developed formulas specifically for these base yarns to produce the highest quality finished products.
Despite the most painstaking attention to detail during the hand-dying process, each dyed skein will offer unique variations. This is part of what makes hand-dyed yarn so special. The following factors affect the resulting color of hand-dyed yarn:
These are just a few of the causes of variance. The exact same color dye applied to different bases will vary widely. Whereas consistency is typically coveted, in knitting, the uniqueness of hand-dyed yarns adds to the quality of the finished garment.
When you knit a sweater or a scarf with hand-dyed yarn, you are creating wearable art. Hand-dyed yarn is painstakingly dyed by a trained dyer and then you, the knitter, put your love and skill into the knitted garment. The finished product is truly art.
When you purchase hand-dyed yarn for your knitting, you are supporting artisans who use their honed skills to handcraft fabulous, unique yarns. Dyers experiment with formulas and types of natural dyes and use various techniques passed down through generations. Hand dying is a true art requiring skill and experience. The love and care that comes with hand dying yarn carries through to the knitter. Supporting artisans is good for the soul.
Dye is a substance containing color that chemically bonds to a medium. Before 1856, only natural dyes were available. Natural dyes are colorants derived from organic materials- plants, minerals, etc. Most natural dyes come from plant sources. The natural dying process is longer and more tedious but yields a finished product that is more dimensional with a more robust color than synthetic dying could ever achieve.
Although the natural dying process uses a significant amount of water, it is thought that natural dyes are still more eco-friendly than their synthetic counterparts. The manufacturing of synthetic dyes produces toxic waste that pollutes water sources and is harmful to the environment as a whole. Many synthetic dyes are also toxic to skin. Natural dyes used in hand-dying are biodegradable, non-toxic, and safer for the environment and our skin.
If you have not yet tried hand-dyed yarn for your knitting projects, it is our hope that these reasons will motivate you to give them a try. Check out our selection of hand-dyed yarns.