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Hands On-Hand Dyed

One of the challenges of knitting or crocheting with the beautiful array of hand dyed yarns is that they often have variation in tone and intensity of color even in the same color way. To overcome pooling or drastic differences in color within the same project, most hand dyers suggest crocheting one or two rows from one hank of yarn followed by one or two rows from another. While that is the most common way to create beautiful knit or crochet projects with consistent color patterning, there are several other approaches that provide a unique fashion forward look to your hand dyed yarn projects.

Don't Fight the Fiber

I had a student who was really upset that her cream-colored mohair shawl left the light colored fibers behind every time she wore it with dark colors. Rather than deliver a dissertation about how to choose fabrics that minimize the display of "wild fibers". Or try to provides tips to minimize shedding, I simply said, "Don't fight the fiber". Accept mohair for what it is and find a place in your heart to embrace it. Well, you are probably wondering what that has to do with hand dyed yarns. "Don't fight the fiber" when using hand dyed yarns involves simply embracing the color inconsistencies. I'm giving you just a few of the many techniques you can try.

*Rather than switching row by row from hank to hank, try the A-B-C technique

This is accomplished by selecting one hank as yarn A, another as Yarn B, and yet another as yarn C (before you start, remember not to cut your yarn at the end of each row). Now **crochet one row color A. Drop color A and crochet the next row with color B. Drop color B and crochet the next row with color C. Drop Color C. Notice color A and loosely bring it up to crochet the next row. Continue from the (**) using the A-B-C technique. I recommend A-B-C for larger projects that will be worn like sweaters, cardigans, etc. This technique produces a more uniform knit or crochet fabric. It is also a good technique to use if you don't have enough of a yarn for a larger project. Then you can combine totally different yarns of a similar weight for a "one of a kind" crochet piece as seen in the A-B-C's Shell below.

*Stripped Stripes- This is what happens when you work at least ten rows or all of one hank and do the same from another hank. Even though the color way is the same, the subtle difference from one hank to another provides strips of color or broad stripes depending on how subtle the color variation is.

*Checkered Past-I fell in love with a Malabrigo yarn called Mecha in a color way called Glitter. I loved the earth tone shades of chocolate, gold, and almost black and I could tell that some hanks were dark and others very light. In order to secure the darkest color paths, I had to go to several yarn shops to get enough to make a "Chanel-esque"cardigan. Even my keen color eye was off on some of the hanks. Determined to make this work I grouped the hanks. Some were rich and deep (what I wanted) and others were slightly lighter. Just enough to be "off". I crocheted strips of yarn alternating the dark color way with its lighter cousin. Eureeka! I ended up with the checkerboard pattern you previewed in my November blog and shown in the picture below. Checkered Past was born. It is worked in single crochet and some of the "blocks" have a sequined strander added for drama. I am still finishing the pattern and it will be one of my first 2021 releases. If you encounter the same problem with your hand dyed yarn, remember my Checkered Past and see if blocks of color and alternating strips can add excitement to your hand dyed adventures.

*If all else fails you can fall back on intarsia or fair isle techniques to disperse the hand dyed yarn in stitch patterns or "pictures". Perhaps you can combine a coordinating or contrasting solid color with the hand dyed yarn and use in a fair isle yoke. Intarsia and fair isle can add fun to your project as you play with the placement of the hand dyed yarn.

I hope you are inspired to experiment with hand dyed yarns. Don't be afraid to try these and other techniques. Refer to Artful Color, Mindful Knits by Laura Militzer Bryant for a deeper understanding and more tips for knitting or crocheting with hand dyed yarns. And remember "Don't fight the fiber".

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