Micro-speckles are points of concentrated pigments on a skein of yarn, and they mostly stand out on skeins that are dyed in a semi-solid colorway.
Our recipes are made up out of several powdered pigments in the form of dye crystals. As dyers we have no control over how these dye crystals break during heat setting.There is a difference between contamination and natural occurring processes that are part of the recipe and we can not prevent these from occurring.
In speckle colorways you will probably spot micro-speckles less, but they do happen.
Even a black dye can be built up out of purple pigments, so if a 'black' dye is used to speckle, and a dark purple micro speckle shows up, this is something we can not prevent.
Hand dyed yarn is made in dye lots and we produce in small quantities.
This means that there are a massive amount of factors that can make a colorway change slightly over time.
We use consistent recipes, but can not guarantee that the colorway we made 2 years ago is the same as the one we dyed yesterday.
Our advise is to buy enough skeins you need for the project from a single dyebath, or ask us to make a custom order if you need more skeins than we have available.
Factors that may change a colorway:
- Hardness of the water at the time of dyeing;
- Production lot of the dye pigments;
- Consistency and make of the yarn;
- Heat settings;
- The person dyeing the colorway;
- Using a different scale for the recipe.
The SEMI in Semi-Solids
We specifically use the term semi-solid because it is practically impossible to ensure or guarantee a 100% true-solid colorway when dying by hand.
This means that your semi-solid colorways will near always have a variation in the deepness of color within one skein. If this is something you really don't like in your projects, we urge you to look at yarns that are commercially and robotically dyed by larger companies, to get an even coloring.
Acid Dye and Superwash treatments usually play well together. There are cases in which the chemicals in the superwash treatment of the wool absorb all the excess dye and retain it for about 3-5 days, after which it starts letting go of the dye (it's a bit like after dyeing your hair, the second time you wash it, it seems like more dye comes out).
This is why it sometimes stains your hands while working with it and it's called crocking.
Normally the excess dye gets rinsed out in our rinse baths but in this case, the superwash treatment gives sort of a 'false positive' since that's what's retaining the dye. Mind you, it's not always the combo of Superwash and dye, crocking unfortunately happens every now and then.
If you have not started a project yet and want to salvage a crocking skein:
- Option 1: Rinse the skein with some soft detergent: this can take up to 4 baths before the water runs clear. Let it dry and you're good to go.
- Option 2: 'Force' the dye into the skein by doing an additional 'setting' round. Basically that means you get the skein into a pan, fill the pan with water and add a cup of white vinegar (cleaning vinegar works fine, could even use some fancyschmancy scented ones) or citric acid. Leave this to simmer around 80 degrees celsius for about 40 minutes and some of the dye will be forced into the skein. After this, take the pan off the heat and then let it cool down completely before rinsing (the dye sets in intervals while it's cooling down).
Steps to take when you are already far into a project (or finished):
- Rinse the project with cold water only for starters and preferably under a running tap or showerhead so the excess dye drains straight away;
- Rinse with a mild detergent, again, with a running tap / showerhead. do this until you feel the water runs clear enough for a soak.
After these 2 steps you should have gotten rid of the bulk of the excess that was causing the crocking. When soaking after this, I advise using color catchers to suck up the last bits of dye that may come out. Depending on where you are located, they are sold in most bigger stores and there are a few brands out there (Dylon, Formil, Vanish, Shout, etc). You may need to rinse and soak more than once.
Mild bleeding is common in all hand dyed yarn and if you have a skein with a ridiculously bright color, super dark colors, or speckles, play it safe by rinsing the skein in cold water and some wool wash (a small amount of dish washing liquid works too) and let it dry.
If you are in doubt about bleeding, or if you are pairing high contrast colors (neon green with solid white for instance), pick the safe route and give the skein a rinse before you cake it up.
Every dye batch consists of a few layers of color going into the yarn. This means that the total dye time of a single skein can be up to 4 hours(!) if the colorway needs it.
The yarn is simmered to the required temperature and we let the skeins cool naturally to keep the yarn soft and plush.
After the dye process and cooling, every skein goes through a rinse cycle. That cycle ends after the water that comes from the yarn is clear. The rinse cycle differs per colorway, yarn base, and fiber blend.
While one colorway may be clear after just 1 cycle, others may need 3. If you've ever dyed hair, you know the motto: rinse til the water runs clear.
I'd like to clear up the faulty rumor that just soaking your hand dyed yarn in vinegar will help against bleeding.
Acid dye needs HEAT + ACID to set. So unless you are tossing that vinegar laced skein in a microwave (please don't use a microwave though, it screws up your fibers), crockpot or pan, soaking in vinegar will not make a difference in bleeding.
If you are heating the skein up with vinegar (or citric acid) in order to prevent the bleeding, it may help, but cold vinegar does nothing besides making your house smell like a chippy.
Bleeding in Bright Colors
Dyeing yarn is a chemical process and despite thorough rinsing, there is always the chance of mild bleeding.
There are a multitude of reasons yarn can bleed and some of the (bright) colorways may bleed because of their chemical makeup. To use the hair example again: You know how it always seems that when you wash your hair a few days after dyeing it, it feels as if there is more dye coming out then when you initially dyed it?
That's what happens when colors bleed normally and it should be gone by 1, maybe 2 rinses.
Bleeding with Speckles
The other case of bleeding in yarn is when it's a speckle colorway. Yeah, #specklesaresohotrightnow. I know and use them in our yarn too because those little dollops of color are just too awesome!
Because of the speckle method I use there are superficial color crystals that will be laying on top of the yarn while the color is setting in our ovens. After setting (which takes about an hour per speckle skein) we take the skein and rinse it thoroughly, usually under a running shower head to blast all the leftover dye crystals away.
Acid dye is very concentrated however and a single crystal that stays behind may cause the yarn to bleed.
Bleeding like a Sorority Girl on Halloween Night
Excessive bleeding that occurs in the yarn is usually a case of not having the right combination of heat and acid, thus resulting in the dye not 'setting' properly.
It can happen that one of the skeins dodges the rinse cycle bullet or the dye isn't set properly.
One option is to re-set the colors yourself. Re-setting dye on yarn is done the same way as setting it:
Take a pan and pour a cup of white vinegar (or 2 tablespoons of citric acid powder) in it. Fill the pan halfway with water. Dunk the skein in the water. Simmer the pan (don't boil it!) and leave to simmer for about an hour. Let the skein cool on itself. The next day rinse it out and hang to dry.