I love knitting with all the gorgeous speckles, brights, and multi-color yarns so much that I find it hard to stop. But sometimes you just have to add something basic and useful to your wardrobe and that's where the tonals yarn colors shine. One of the best tonal dyers without question is Sundara Yarn and I chose her beautiful and lofty merino sport yarn for this mid-sized shawl that will be my transitional piece from winter to spring.
The last few years has seen an explosion of indy yarn dyers creating beautiful hand dyed yarns. Some of the dyers are so popular that they enjoy almost a cult like following with their online shop updates selling out within minutes. This means that if you want to purchase a skein of their yarn you will need to make a quick decision. But whether you need to make a quick decision or are simply interested in exploring hand dyed yarn I think it is helpful to have an understanding of the many permutations of dyeing styles that make up the lexicon of hand dyed yarns these days. Here's a quick summary guide of some of the more popular dying styles and my thoughts on the types of project they are best suited to:
Solids: Always a great choice for projects with colorwork. As a rule lighter colors tend to show off cables and pattern best.
Tonals: Yarn has various shades of a single color. I personally love tonals for basic wardrobe pieces and gift projects.
Neons: These yarns add fun pops of color and are best when paired with a neutral color such as grey.
Variegated: Multiple colors of yarn in a single skein. These yarns often look best in simple garter stitch.
Variegated Speckles: Multiple colors of yarn with multiple colors of contrasting speckles. These are beautiful in the skein. They make fun socks and also look great in a shawl when paired with a solid contrasting color.
Soft Speckles: A soft background color is used (either tonal or variegated) with muted speckles that can be in a range of colors. This is a versatile yarn that can be used for lots of different styles of projects from baby blankets to summer cardigans.
Self Striping: There are an infinite number of different styles of dying self striping yarns from the number of colors used to the length and frequency of color stripes. These yarns make wonderful socks.
The more popular dyers often have a certain style of dyeing that they have mastered. For example Sundara Yarns is particularly talented at dying tonals. In comparison I would say that the Plucky Knitter is particularly good with solid colors and Hedgehog Fibers is fabulous with variegated speckles. You are probably thinking hand dyed yarns and these dyers have been around forever. That is true. However the landscape is different with dyeing styles and color combinations and perhaps most importantly the monopoly enjoyed by just a few dyers has ended. Open your eyes and look around. You will find talented indie dyers abound.
Over the next few months I'll be sharing some fun examples of projects knit in gorgeous speckled yarns and introducing you to some of the lesser known dyers that I've recently discovered. To better illustrate the styles of dyes I'll also be including a picture of the skein of yarn along with the finished project. For example with this tonal yarn you can see how the lighter color in the skein created a beautiful marbling effect to the fabric.
Particulars: Deep Water Shawl designed by Dani Sunshine (website: Lioness Arts); US 8 needles; 2 skeins Sport Merino Two (dyed by Sundara Yarn) 388 yrds/skein (colorway Water Lily). This shawl comes in size S and L and I made a "medium" by splitting the difference. This is a very well written pattern and a pleasure to knit. The following are past projects using Sundara Yarns: Ishneich shawl; Embossed Leaf Socks; Diamond Fantasy Shawlette; and Milkweed Shawlette.
If you are looking for a transitional shawl but in a slightly heavier weight yarn, i.e. dk weight, you might consider the Mara shawl which I absolutely love for a basic wardrobe piece. It's a free Ravelry download pattern courtesy of Madelinetosh Yarn.
Springtime in Topanga ~
It's hard to believe that it's nearly Spring as I sit and write while raining is pelting down. But as you can see from the pictures in this post flowers are beginning to bloom and we are having some mild days. Soon Southern California will be back to it's sunny self. And frankly after this colder than usual winter I'm more than ready for the arrival of spring. But I'm fickle and I'll soon change my tune once we hit our first 90 degree day. At which point I'll start wishing for winter again.
Until next time be well and love well and enjoy transitioning to spring, perhaps wearing a new transitional shawl of your own!