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How to Prepare Your Yarn for Consistent Dyeing Results

By Amy Reader on October 20, 2020

Before you add any kind of pigment to your yarn, there are a few key steps that are essential for preparing your yarn for the best outcome. These simple preparatory steps will ensure your dye baths are even and your results are replicable. Preparing your yarn in hanks ensures that it does not tangle while in a dye bath. Weighing your undyed yarn is important to know if you want to repeat the exact same dye process and provides base measurements that can be scaled up or down. Presoaking ensures the dye absorbs evenly throughout the skein.

Prep Hanks of Yarn

If you want to dye an entire skein of Knomad yarn, good news! It comes ready to go! Each skein comes with three figure-eight ties already tied evenly throughout the skein. The tag is tied to the loop that contains the ends of the skein. If you need to wind the skein into smaller hanks, cut this loop last so you can keep track of your ends.

prepare yarn

 

If you want to use less than a full 100-gram skein, the best way to wind new baby hanks is to place the full hank around something like a stool or the backs of two chairs so it does not tangle. When I am testing a new color, I typically do a 10-gram mini hank first before committing to an entire hank. 

To wind a mini hank, I lay the big “parent” hank around the legs of a stool and wind a small “baby” hank around my hand and elbow. This process is much easier if you have an umbrella swift on hand. As I am winding this hank, I weigh it intermittently to check if it is my desired weight. Once the hank I’ve been winding on my arm is the right weight, I always pull out an extra few feet of yarn and use this to create yarn loops.

To prevent the hank from getting tangled, I add at least two new figure-eight ties in the mini hank. To do this, lay the hank out in a circle on a flat surface. Split one part of the hank into two even bundles. Take a 10-inch piece of scrap undyed yarn and place it around the section that is on the outside of the circle and pull it through so both ends meet in between the two sections. Take the ends of the yarn and twist them. 

 

How to Prep Hanks of Yarn

How to Prep Hanks of Yarn

How to Prep Hanks of Yarn

The piece that came in over the top will go underneath the next section. Repeat this process until all bundles of the yarn have been bound. Tie these loosely so that water can move freely underneath the yarn loop. If the tie is too tight, the dye will not penetrate underneath the tie creating a white stripe. 

Any hank needs at least two yarn loops. For 50 gram skeins or larger, three yarn loops are better. Additionally, on large hanks, it is better to create three yarn bundles for the figure-eight ties.

 

How to Properly Presoak Yarn

Fill the vessel of your choosing with water. Ensure the yarn will fit inside of the vessel. For the mini hanks, I use a large cup. For full hanks, I plug my sink and presoak there. Use cool water for the presoak. Drastic temperature changes can felt wool so starting with cool water is important. If you’re using a superwash yarn, this isn’t a concern.  

wash yarn

 

When you first add your yarn to the water, it will float on top. You can press it underneath the waterline or just wait about an hour for the yarn to submerge. If you wait for the yarn to sink on its own, the easiest way to tell that it is fully saturated is when the whole hank has fallen below the waterline. If you’ve poked the yarn, it should release bubbles as it submerges. When the yarn stops bubbling it is saturated. 

 

saturated yarn and unsaturated yarn

This picture shows the difference between fully saturated yarn and unsaturated yarn. It is a subtle change, but the thoroughly saturated yarn is a little darker in color. Halfway saturated yarn is darker around the edges of the yarn, but still lighter towards the middle. 

Soaking yarn before dyeing allows for even absorption of pigment during the dyeing process. This is especially important if you are doing any sort of kettle or immersion dye. A thorough presoak will also help hand-painted colors blend more naturally!

Lightly squeeze the excess water out of the yarn, and now you are all set to move into your favorite dyeing process! You can try this with avocado skins, food coloring, or even Kool-Aid!  We can’t wait to see what you create with your favorite skein of Knomad yarn.

Optional: Scouring the Yarn

Knomad yarn only uses steam during the finishing process so scouring is optional. If you choose to scour your yarn, just add a little dish soap during the presoak. After you’ve added the soap of your choice to the yarn and water, gently agitate it. You want a little bit of bubbles and for the soap to dissolve evenly throughout the water. Once the water bubbles, let the yarn soak in the soap water for a few minutes. Give it another gentle agitation and then slowly rinse the soapy water out of the yarn with cool water. If you are working in your sink, drain your sink before rinsing the yarn. Rinse the presoaked and scoured yarn with some cool water, gently squeeze out the excess, and move into the dye process of your choosing.

 

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Amy Reader

Amy Reader is a fiber artist based in Portland, OR. She learned to sew when she was six years old and quickly fell in love with textiles of all kinds. With the help of her grandmother, Amy learned to knit and crochet shortly thereafter. Amy started dyeing with kitchen safe dyes and was immediately hooked. She loves working with bold and playful colors and primarily dyes yarn for her line of hand-embroidered jewelry.

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