Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Siren Call of Hand-Dyed Skeins

It's been so long since I've been in a actual yarn shop. Sigh. However, I still have a few hand-dyed skeins lurking in my (nowhere near depleted) stash. They're the equivalent of fast food or candy for knitters. You've probably been in this scenario. You're browsing in a yarn shop, not meaning to make a big purchase (because you have more than enough yarn already), and you're getting ready to leave, but then you see the wall of hand-dyed goodies. The colours! Your pulse beats a little faster, and you tell yourself it's only one skein. Then you buy a couple -- because it's not like buying a truckload of wool for a sweater. And only when you get home do you realize that there might be an bit of an issue (and I don't mean with the size of your stash).

The thing is, apart from tonally dyed yarns, hand-dyed yarns present a problem. In the skein, hanging innocently in the yarn shop, they look like this.

Ok, I'll admit I'm in an aqua/grape rut colourwise. That's not the problem. The difficulty is that when you spread out the skein, the colour splotches are localized in one or more spots, like this.

It's a result of the dye method which typically involves squirting or painting dye onto the skein while it's wound as shown above. When turned into a cake and knitted up into something like a sock, the colours will pool in ugly, undesirable ways. So what's a knitter to do? 

There are lots of suggestions online and in books for things to do with these gems, ranging from which projects work best to what stitches will blend the colour changes harmoniously. I'll let you do your own internet search. I have my own solution. Pembroke. The garter stitch, combined with the gradually lengthening rows result in an almost woven look. It's fun to knit and soothing. Some would say "numbing", but there are indeed times when you may want your brain to focus on something other than your hands.

Even with Pembroke, a tiny smidgen of pooling can occur,

but it's brief, and when the scarf is worn no one will notice. So satisfying.

As I write, the afternoon temp here is minus 17C (plus 1F). The house was creaking and popping last night. The car windows are frozen shut. Can anyone ever have enough scarves at this time of the year?