by Rebecca Park
Some of the most striking colors of yarn are not found in the catalogue of the mass-producers, but are hand made by indie dyers (or other semi large companies like Madelinetosh or Malabrigo). We are all drawn to them because they make such a statement in our pieces, and I am willing to bet that every knitter has a skein that they simply can't justify winding up and using - no project will ever be good enough!
But as much as we all love it, we have all experienced an issue when blocking - the awful moment when your color runs.
What is it about the hand-dyed yarn that causes this issue? And what can you do to stop it? I promise you that the answer is not to avoid such yarn altogether, because your most enjoyable projects are often the most colorful ones - the projects that just make you happy as you're knitting.
Sometimes, of course, mistakes happen - whether in a large workshop with experienced dyers, or a small business indie dyer (like myself) who just made a mistake with colorfasting. I recently read an article that really helped me to understand why this happened, and I wanted to share a few of the highlights with you!
Why your dye might run:
1. Fragrance in your wool soaps - sometimes your favorite scent of soak wash might pull dye from certain colors. Test them out when you do a gauge swatch ( I know, I know... no one likes them) and give them a dunk to see what the colors do!
2. The temperature of your water
3. pH of your water - this could compromise the dye's adherence
4. Hardness or softness of your water
What to do about it:
1. Use color catchers - found in the laundry aisle
2. Try a glug of vinegar in your knits to set the color
3. Test it out on a gauge swatch - you have to do it anyway!
Another great tip along the lines of swatching is to hang your damp swatch so you can see how the article will drape when you are wearing it. So see? There are more reasons now to test gauge other than just to see if your needles are right!
Lora Meyer - owner of Fiber Addiction Inc. Lora has been knitting for about 14 years. It started with a Groupon for a beginner knit class and now she owns her own yarn shop. Lora loves a variety of crafts but knitting is her favorite. Lora has been married to her husband, Marc for 35 years. She has 27 year old twins. She has a cat, a dog and 4 chickens.