26 Nov '11
PSA: Dear Knitter
Every once in a while, I make the mistake of reading what others have written about my yarn in Ravelry. On the whole, its pretty positive, but not 100% of the time. These little criticisms are like a the pea for the insomniac princess - they irritate me even though I know it's an ill-advised practice to read these things in the first place. We're not all in the same place as knitters and fiber addicts, just as we aren't all equally experienced drivers or piano players. I can't plunk a single note properly or tell you where middle C is on the keyboard, but I'm also not about to tell you that a certain model of instrument has defects when I couldn't possibly explain whether or not the thing I'm seeing is even a defect. Maybe that particular thing I don't understand was intentional. Public Service Announcement time. Dear Knitter, Thank you for trying my yarn, or that of another indie dyer. We really appreciate your giving us a try, as we don't have the same mode of distributing our product as large yarn distributors. For most of us, this dyeing thing started as a hobby, often in our kitchens and garages, and it really is about love and artistic expression. To that end, some of us do wacky things with color. Very often, we do not intend colors to be "even" or "perfect". As a knitter, some of my most cherished skeins in my stash were happy accidents on the part of the dyer. As a dyer, some of my most favorite colors were experiments that I'd previously deemed a little too "out there" to be knittable. If your skein has pale spots, or even spots devoid of color in an otherwise very light skein of yarn, it was totally intentional on my part. Those not-totally-saturated bits of yarn make for visual interest in the final knit in a similar fashion as the flecks in tweeds. I made the mistake early on in my knitting career to think that hand-dyed yarns should be as well-matched as commercial yarns that come in large dyelots. This is just not so! I now realize that no two hand-dyed skeins will ever match exactly, and so to knit with these yarns you must employ certain strategies. If you plan to knit a large garment, especially in stockinette, you must alternate 2 skeins of the same color. This will even out the color across the garment and also minimize any pooling of light and dark patches or one particular color. You must also be prepared for 2 socks from the same skein to be more fraternal than identical, and keep in mind that this fraternal-ness can be attributed to your knitting tension as much as it could be to the way the yarn is dyed. If you aren't willing to deal with the unique attributes of hand-dyed yarns, there are a whole host of machine-dyed (an often inexpensive) yarns for you to choose from. We indie dyers will not be ceasing to do what we do with joy and over-enthusiastic dye flinging any time soon, so we'll be here when you're ready. In the interim, please keep in mind that dyers can read, Ravelry is essentially public, and like the Yarn Harlot once said - the internet is like one very large living room and we can all hear you whether you bash or gush. However, if the yarn you are knitting with should bleed all over your hands and needles, that is not okay and should be addressed with the dyer. Some of us work very hard to ensure this does not happen and do not appreciate those that don't make the same effort. Additionally, if your finished knit should start to fade after several washes and continue to do so to the point of paleness or complete loss of color, this is another defect in the dyeing process and must not be tolerated. The final word on dyeing is that if you believe you know it all, give it a try. You'll need undyed yarn, acid dyes, white vinegar, a jar or bottle for dye mixing (16+ ounces), a pot you don't plan to cook in ever again, and some towels and cleanser for post-dyeing cleanup. Oh, and lots of water. Boil water, carefully mix the dye with boiling water, being careful not to inhale the dye powder. Get the yarn really wet. Put some dye, the yarn, a half cup of vinegar, and some water in your pot. Heat the pot to near-boiling and let simmer for the time allotted in the dye's instructions (1/2 to 1 hour). Drain yarn and hang to dry. Enjoy! Thanks muchly, Your local neighborhood dyer.