Why Do Hand-Dyed Skeins From the Same Dye Lot Vary?

December 10, 2019 2 min read

Why Do Hand-Dyed Skeins From the Same Dye Lot Vary?

You've heard it from other knitters, you've read it online, you've also heard it in yarn shops: when it comes to buying more than one skein in the same colour, "Always buy the skeins from the same dye lot so they will match."

This advice is perfectly acceptable for commercial-brand yarns dyed by machines, where colours are completely predictable—but when it comes to hand-dyed fibers, you can take that sentiment and throw it out the window.

No two hand-dyed skeins can ever be truly identical, no matter which dye lot they come from—in other words, skeins from the same hand-dyed dye-lot can, and almost always do, vary

What? How can that be? 

We take measures to control every possible variable we can in the dye studio, from the acidity of water to the amount of dye used in each batch, even the ambient temperature in the room. It's a complicated process with so many potential factors creating an impact on your yarn! 

To the best of our efforts, the only factor that can never be truly "controlled" is the hand of the individual dyer who paints colour onto each skein. 

As you watch this video, you'll see just how much variation there is between each skein, from the amount of colour present on each skein to whether a certain color was actually present at all, despite dying them both the same way! Even variations in the amount of saturation of each colour, purple, blue, black and orange, are apparent.

These skeins were literally tied together and dyed side by side in our pots. Watch:

When we dyed semi-solids the exact same way, we found that while there was less colour variation throughout the skeins, there was more variation in terms of actual color saturation and the hue/tone of the colour blue. 

Why does this happen?

A few variables come into the mix when applying colour to a skein.

First, as mentioned earlier, we can't stress enough that when a human being is adding colour to your skein, it's impossible to make identical carbon-copies. Our dyers are artists who painstakingly applying colour to skeins one by one. 

Second, keep in mind that the canvas that colour is being painted on is not flat, but circular. This means that the strands of yarn have an impact on where the colour is applied, and where it is absent.

Third, colours will intermingle with each other on the skein, and create fantastic new colours when they come into contact with one another. 

What does this mean for you as a knitter?

The more colour you add to a skein in any given dye lot, the more variation you'll have between the skeins in that lot. 

Every single skein you buy from us is a work of art, dyed by hand, and will never be "repeatable." Every single project you knit from our yarn will be unique.

Each time you knit with a hand-dyed skein, rest assured there will never be another exactly like it. We hope you can embrace its uniqueness with the same appreciation you'd have for an original painting  in a museum.

Hand-dyed yarn is art that you can hold in your hand and use as a medium to create something even more wonderful, and it will always be an original. 


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