You’ve purchased a beautiful skein (or two or three!) of hand dyed yarn and very likely paid a pretty penny for it. Protect your investment and save yourself some heartache by following these tips to care for your yarn.
Washing FOs made with hand dyed yarn
I label all of my yarns with washing instructions specific for the fibers of the yarn, but a good rule of thumb for all hand dyed yarns is to hand wash items you’ve created in cold water and wool wash or a gentle soap such as Dawn dish soap. Don’t use Dawn Ultra–just the basic, boring Dawn or you’ll get too many suds. Be careful if you use a wool wash because they have a tendency to make yarns bleed. For non-superwash wool items, be extremely gentle and don’t agitate the item or it will felt. I like to wash my items in my bathroom sink, then pull the drain plug and gently squeeze the excess water out of the item. Don’t wring it! To speed drying time, I roll the item up in a couple of bath towels and then lay flat to dry.
Store wool yarn in a sealed container where dust and bugs can’t get to it. I also like to keep a satchel of lavender in there–bugs hate the smell of lavender! Store it in skein form and don’t wind it into a cake or a ball until you’re ready to use it.
My yarn is bleeding!
This is my nightmare. Yarn that bleeds. It sucks ass but it happens to even the best indie dyers. My method involves steaming the yarn for about 2 hours and then letting it cool in the dyebath for 4 more hours or overnight (creating beautiful yarns for you is a long and tedious process but totally worth it!). Then, I wash + rinse the ish out of it to ensure the dye is set and remove any excess dye. My yarns rarely bleed but occasionally you may experience minimal bleeding. This is normal but if it bleeds and bleeds and bleeds and you start cursing my name STOP…. breathe….and contact me. I will do my best to help you save your yarn and remedy the sitch. Just an FYI though–yarns that contain silk and non-superwash wool are more likely to be bleeders. Such fickle little suckers…
…but….I know I have a bleeder — what do I do?!
The bleeders were always the pain in the ass kid in class weren’t they? I can say that because I was one. Well, bleeding yarns are a pain in the ass too but here’s how to set them straight. Take your skein and wash it in the same way you would wash your FO (scroll up for a refresher). At this point, however, I wouldn’t use wool wash. Go for the Dawn. Gently wash it and then rinse. Add a splash of plain ol’ white vinegar to the first rinse and then use plain water for subsequent rinses.
…it’s still bleeding and I’m really cursing your name now…
If it’s bleeding but the color of the yarn isn’t changing, then the dye has been set correctly but a) it wasn’t rinsed properly, b) your water is too hot (didn’t I say to use cool water, silly?) or c) you’re using a scented wool wash that is leeching out the color. You don’t need to reset the dye because it’s just excess dye that’s washing away. Fiber can only hold so much dye! Keep in mind that the pH level of your water may be different than that of the water in my studio. Or you could have soft water while I have hard, I have flouride and you don’t…while the yarn may not have bled for me, it may for you under your water conditions. It’s like chemistry class. Blech. If the color of the yarn is changing or fading, then that means that the dye hasn’t been set properly. In this case, put the yarn in a pot that you won’t use again for food, add water to cover, add a splash or two of white vinegar and then gradually bring the water to a simmer. Keep it at this heat for about 30 minutes and then turn the heat off. You could also use the microwave. Put the soaked yarn in a container you won’t use for food, add some vinegar, and wrap it in saran wrap. Then nuke it for a couple of minutes and let it rest.
I hope this helps you and as always, if you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me!
Peace love + fiber,