What is hand-dyeing? And why does it matter?
Recently, I keep hearing the same question again and again: “What is hand-dyeing?”. Maybe it’s because I’ve been chatting with people outside the fiber arts world about Yarn Love. Perhaps it’s a question that I take for granted because I’ve been dyeing yarn for more than 15 years. Whatever the impetus, today I’m going to answer the question & explore the philosophy behind hand-dyed yarn.
Hand dyeing is the process of applying dye to a textile by hand. No machines are used; this coloring is accomplished by people power!
Plant fiber, animal fiber, natural dyes, manufactured dyes - it doesn’t matter. The point of differentiation is that a person - usually an artist - applied the dye.
The Philosophy of hand-dyeing
Let’s look deeper at what hand-dyeing means for the yarn community; in particular here at Yarn Love. Hand-dyeing goes deeper into philosophy than you might realize. It’s faster and much less expensive to have a machine dye yarn. Machines don’t get tired, batch sizes can be immense, and they represent a significant advancement in profitability for the manufacturer.
But what if you don’t want faster, cheaper, and more industrial profit?
Enter hand-dyeing. Each skein is handled and manipulated individually - by a person, an artisan. The individual handling creates minute differences from skein to skein - even within the same batch - making each skein an individual work of artistry and skill.
Because most indie yarn companies sprung out of the artists’ love and passion there can be significant differences in technique and dyeing styles - meaning there is an enormous world of brilliantly color skeins just waiting for you to discover.
Luxury and quality
Hand-dyed yarn is quality and luxury. Dyers work with their yarns every day. Because of the time it takes to create new colorways, mix and apply the dyes, heat set, then wash and package the skeins for sale, most dyers opt for the highest quality yarn they can find - with natural and luxury fiber blends. Even basic, “work horse” yarns in a dyer’s line are typically much higher quality than what you’ll see on the shelves at your local big box craft store.
When you contemplate the significant number of hours you'll spend on your next yarn project doesn't it make sense to choose a quality yarn...so that every stitch is a delight?
Hand-dyed yarn refreshes the soul, sparks creativity and cultivates excitement. I’ve seen this again and again at craft shows over the years. A customer will walk into the booth because they value high-quality yarns and enjoy supporting artisans…..but they fall in love with a skein because it reaches out and touches something deep within them. There’s a transmission of love and creativity from the dyer to the knitter through the yarn. It’s a thread that binds them and the final project becomes a creative collaboration.
For me, this is the best part of my job. That moment of sharing; where the yarn I crafted becomes something more beautiful because it was appreciated by it’s new owner and transformed into something lovely.
Here at Yarn Love, hand-dyed yarn represents a small shelter from our fast-paced and increasingly digital world. A chance to bring a small bit of artistry and creativity into daily life. Every time I cast on with a hand-dyed skein, I remember why making things by hand, with care and intention, brings fulfillment and joy into my life.
Each skein of Yarn Love brings the same philosophy of creativity, quality, and community to you. Hand-dyeing yarn is a labor intensive craft, and it's also brilliantly colorful and creative. It's my way of making the world a lovelier place - one strand, one stitch at a time.
I love this pic of my daughters & I knitting from a few years ago.