Monday, August 22, 2016

48-Hour Back to School Sale

Time for a sale! For the next 48 hours all in-stock yarns are 30% off, all row counters are 30% off, and all needles and notions are 10% off. Shop at or 

Tip: Yarns and fibers photographed on a white background are dyed to order and not on sale. Yarns and fibers dyed on a wood background are in stock and are on sale. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Episode 8: I Love That Colorway! (Now What?)

Behind the Dyepots

What’s On The Needles
Swatching with 9” circulars

Giveaway Winners
Check the podcast to see if you've won!

New in the Stash and Customer Spotlight

What’s on the Nightstand
(I said “The Art of Ravelry”. Nope, it’s The Art of Rivalry. You know what I have on the brain!) The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships,Betrayals. And Breakthroughs in Modern Art by Sebastian Smee   

Shop Update

lehcarstl on Ravelry
Knit Dye Read/Dyeabolical/Rachel Knits blog
Dyeabolicalyarn Instagram
Dyeabolical Yarns website
Dyeabolical Yarns Etsy

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I love that yarn! (Now what?)

You see a gorgeous skein of variegated yarn and it immediately jumps in to your shopping cart. Once it's at your house you have no idea where to even begin. You cast on a few things, but nothing looks right. The pattern is obscured or the colors muddy. Quickly you lose patience and swear off variegated yarns forever. As someone who makes their living with variegated yarns, I have to say waiiiiiiiiiitt! Let me teach you some tricks before you swear off gorgeous variegateds entirely, ok?

Being able to read the yarn in your hand will help guide you towards patterns that really show the yarn off to its own gorgeous potential. This post is going to refer mostly to knitting patterns because I am mostly a knitter, but reading a skein of yarn is a good skill for our crochet and weaving friends, too. Ready? Ok!

Variegated hand dyed yarns are sold either as-is from the dye pot or rewound (aka rehanked or reskeined). There is a lot of information you can learn from both put-ups. One put up is not better than another. It is a matter of personal preference for the dyer. I've offered both and I've bought both from other dyers. To read more about rewinding, see this blog post from 2013.
Once you have a variegated yarn, knowing how to read the yarn can help you plan your next project. First, some definitions. The dyeing world is vast and sometimes people use different words for the same concepts or different definitions for the same words. Consider the definitions below to be working definitions for the purposes of this post.

What is a variegated yarn?
A variegated yarn is a yarn that has more than one color in it. Today I'm referring specifically to short repeat, spaced dyed (or space-dyed like) hand painted or kettle dyed yarns.

Space Dyed
Space Dyed yarns are short repeat yarns that have a relatively consistent color repeat. The dyes are applied at regular intervals and create a (semi) predictable color pattern when knitted at a certain gauge using a certain number of stitches. There are other hand dyed yarns, such as speckles and true random no-repeat dyes, that are dyed in a small circumference skein but do not regularly repeat a color sequence. Those are not considered space dyed yarns.

Short repeat vs. long repeat
A short repeat variegated yarn will have a color repeat that is anywhere from a few feet to a few yards long. A short repeat variegated yarn may pool, flash, spiral pool, or all/none of the above.

Long repeat variegated yarns have a color repeat that will usually create regular stripes or a gradient effect. Hand dyed long repeat yarns will usually be identified on the label with the words self-striping, patterning, stripes, striped, gradient, or ombre.

Kettle dyed vs. hand painted
Some people reserve the term "kettle dyeing" to refer to yarns dyed in a big pot or cauldron filled with water and dyes applied semi-randomly. They reserve the term "low water immersion" for yarns dyed in a pan filled with a low level of water where the dyes are applied deliberately. For the purposes of this post, I consider kettle dyed yarns are yarns to be yarns dyed while immersed in water whether or not they are submerged in a pot or barely covered in a pan. Dyes are allowed to freely move where the water takes them. There is a greater degree of randomness in kettle dyed yarns, but some amazing new colors can happen when one dye color strikes another color.

Hand painted yarns are yarns that have pre-mixed dyed applied to wet or dry skeins in deliberate sections. Dyes are not allowed to migrate wherever they want. There is a greater degree of control from the dyer. The colors can be VERY saturated and there is little to no blending that occurs through happenstance. Any blending present was deliberately introduced by the dyer. 

Rehanking is taking a dyed hank of yarn and winding it up again at a different circumference to neaten the finished yarn and redistribute the colors.

How can I tell if my yarn has been rehanked? 
It can sometimes be tricky to tell if a skein of yarn has been rehanked or not, but a good indicator is that you can still see big chunks of color hanging out together in the hank. Another way to tell is to look for stray loops. This doesn't always happen, but sometimes yarns shift during dyeing and there may be a few looser loops in the hank that is not rewound, like the hank on the left. Rewinding neatens all of that up for a smooth, tight hank like the hank on the right. [Regardless of whether these "loose loops" are present, the yarn should not be tangled. Make sure all of your ties are smooth and that the yarn is facing the right direction before starting your ball. Fish out both yarn tails and everything should unwind with out drama.]
Hidden Tiger

Which is better- rewinding or not rewinding?
Neither is better. I like both. I find it easier to see how the yarn was dyed when it is not rewound, but easier to see how the colors play together when it is rewound. My electric skein winder has rewound thousands of hanks of yarn until I stopped rewinding earlier this year. No regrets either way.

Reading the color repeat of kettle dyed yarn:

Flower Shop Inferno
This non-rehanked skein can tell us a lot. You can see what the main colors are in each skein, and what the color repeat is, and (probably) how the skein was dyed. Is there a lot of variation in each of the main colors? Are the color transitions gentle? It was probably kettle dyed. Is the main color mostly all one shade? Are the color transitions mostly sharp? It was probably hand painted.

The skein above is a short repeat variegated yarn. If you were to measure this skein you would find that the hank has about a 1.75 yard circumference and that the yarn is dyed across the skein rather than opened up and dyed around the circle. This means the color progression will double back on itself.

The color progression will be (primarily) orange, blue, purple, blue. We can see that the purple and orange sections are about twice as long as the blue section. I also know that one full color repeat of this particular yarn will knit about 1.75 rounds on a sock knitted at my gauge using a standard vanilla pattern. 1.75 rounds of a sock (for me) is 112 stitches. So there are 112 stitches per full color repeat. I can plug those numbers in to the Planned Pooling Calculator and get an idea of how this color might knit up at different stitch circumferences. (The calculator doesn't take gauge in to account, so swatching is still important.)

The colors are primarily orange, blue, and purple, but if you look closer there is also some green, and a blue-ish purple, as well. Those areas of color happened when the orange met the blue in the dye pot and when the blue met the purple. Those few inches of serendipity are a clue that this is a kettled dyed yarn.

The orange fades out and the blue fades in. If you look across the full width of the skein (the white line in the picture below) you can also see that the color is not consistent across the full width of the skein. This is a sign that this color was probably dyed using a kettle dyeing technique rather than laid out flat and painted by hand.

Signs it was kettle dyed
We know a few things about space dyed type yarn dyed using a kettle dyeing method:
  • Because the main colors have the regularity of a space dyed yarn, a planned pooling project will still work, but because the color transitions are soft and because the variation within each color is greater, the edges of a planned pooling project might not be crisp. There could be some feathering or softening of the pattern. In a planned pooling project, it will still argyle or stack, but it the edges of the argyle or stripe may be less defined.
  •  This color might be really good in one of the many shawls designed for handpainted yarns. It may still pool in spots, but because there is so much variation both between and within each color these soft color shifts will make the areas of pooling a little softer and a little less likely to stand out in stark contrast. The areas of pooling that do occur will add welcome bits of color accent. 
  • If socks are on the agenda, the socks will likely be fraternal shades rather than identical shades. They will be recognized as close siblings, but they won't be identical twins. That's ok! If we wanted a pair of perfectly matched socks then we wouldn't be knitting our socks by hand with hand dyed yarns.
This particular variegated colorway, Flower Shop Inferno, has a lot going on. Below are 3 of my favorite patterns for this color.

Photo courtesy of TheKnittingSarah

Reading the color repeat of a hand painted yarn:
Christmas is Coming
This skein is also about 1.75 yard circumference. The main colors are green, white and red. Overall it looks like the red and the green are heavier than the white. Just eyeballing it, it looks like the white area occupies about 1/5th the area on either side of the skein, with red and green occupying 2/5ths a piece. There are 2 sides of the skein so our color progression would be 4/10th green, 1/10th white, 4/10th red, 1/10th white.

I know that I can knit 1.75 rounds of a 64-stitch sock with this particular yarn. That's 112 stitches. 44.8 stitches (roughly) would be green, 11.2 white, 44.8 red, and 11.2 white. I pop all of those numbers in to the planned pooling calculator, choose the type of knitting I want (round in this case) and get get a good approximation of what the yarn might do in various knitting scenarios. In the ornament picture below, the bottom right bauble has a 64 stitch circumference at the widest point. See how closely it resembles the mock up that the pooling calculator gave us?

Scrappy Christmas Baubles 
Now let's look across the width of this skein. We can see that the colors are relatively even and consistent across the skein. The color changes are abrupt and there are no transitional colors. This skein was likely hand painted.

We know a few things about using hand painted yarns in projects:
  • If we do any planned pooling with hand painted spaced dyed yarns then the patterning will likely be sharper than if we used a kettle dyed yarn. 
  • Hand painted yarns can really highlight pools of color, making any pools in your project really pop out. Depending on what your objective is, this could be good or bad. 
  • If you are doing any planned pooling in an argyle- or column-type stack, then your colors will have a crisper definition. 
  • Your socks will be more identical than fraternal. 
  • The color in the yarn itself will likely be deeper, clearer, brighter, more saturated, and have less of a watercolor effect.
I'm a pretty big believer in using whatever color you want in whatever stitch pattern you want, but many people are happiest when they use a simpler stitch pattern with hand painted space dyed yarns. Think vanilla or ribbed socks, slipped stitch patterning, garter stitch, simple yo,k2tog lace.

But my yarn is reskeined....?

That's ok! You can still tease out the same information as above. But first, let's look at this rewound skein. See any new colors? We knew there was some green before, but doesn't it seem like there's more of it? Rewinding really redistributes the colors so we can see the whole skein all at once.

I wound this hank in to a ball and then pulled out a few yards. I looked for any regular repeat to the yarn and started laying it out to get an idea of what the original skein looked like. Most variegated hanks will have a repeat that is about 1.25-3 yards long. 
Once you identify the repeat you should be able to gather the same information as a non-rewound hank.

Do you have any questions or comments? Any ideas for future posts? Comment below or email.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Ch-ch-changes, and also a ch-ch-choo


There are two fully written posts sitting in my drafts folder that I apparently never posted even though I thought I had. Whoops. At least I remembered to talk about their content in the podcast.

The tl;dr version of those posts are a) Hey! I saw a big train being moved by a big crane and it was the best thing ever!; and b) Hey! It's raining from my kitchen ceiling and everything needed to be moved so we rearranged everything we own and now my apartment makes sense possibly for the first time ever or at least it will when there isn't a giant hole in my ceiling.; and c) run-on sentences are fun!

In March of next year the business turns 10. I'm thinking a lot about what I want Dyeabolical to look like for the next 10 years. I've come up with a small list that feels very big.
  • I know I want to offer more knitting and crochet needles and notions, especially ones that may be hard to find in a local yarn store and especially needles and tools that I myself prefer to use or that I know are preferred by my customers and have been tested for quality. This means knitting and crocheting. Ugh, more swatching. :P
  • I want my in-stock photos (wood background) to be as good as my dyed-to-order photos (white background) and I want to up my Instagram game. Step 1: Order a new backdrop (left). Step 2: Finally figure out what the heck I'm doing with both my camera camera and my iPhone camera. [This link is a little spammy feeling, but I watched one of their videos and learned a ton about using the iPhone camera. Be prepared for lots of follow up emails from the site asking you to buy their products, though.]
  • You know how I have a newsletter, but I rarely use that newsletter? Yeah...I don't have writers block so much as I have coders block. Put the html where now? CSSwhat? Drag the content block where? I'm switching over to a service that will hopefully help me automate some of those things. They take my blog/pinterest/etsy/instagram feeds, I add some words, and shazam, I have a newsletter. Shiny. [You may get an email from the service sometime in the next few weeks when I upload my subscribers list.They just want to confirm that you still want to read my newsletter.]
  • I've picked up some skills while working in the yarn shop all of those years, and I'm not usually shy sharing my opinions or knitting skills, so why don't I? I should, right? I would love to get some tutorials and patterns together over the next few years that I can share on the Dyeabolical website (and here, of course).
Do you have any suggestions or ideas? What would you like to see on the Dyeabolical website or on this blog? Are there any topics you would like me to talk about? Any questions you'd like answered? Something you've always been wondering? Need a pattern suggestions for a Dyeabolical (or non-Dyeabolical?) yarn you have in stash? Technique you'd like demonstrated? General comment or random venting? I'm all ears.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Episode 7: Rains and Trains

What's on the Needles:
Lemongrass by Joji Locatelli out of Peace Fleece in Marigold
Tappan Zee by Amy King out of handspun
Magie der Zwililnge by Micha Klein from Dyeabolical Bounce in Very Starry

On the Nightstand:
Netgalley An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything byAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by

lehcarstl on Ravelry
Knit Dye Read/Dyeabolical/Rachel Knits blog
Dyeabolicalyarn Instagram
Dyeabolical Yarns website
Dyeabolical Yarns Etsy