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February 11, 2017 4 Comments

The photographs above show exactly the same shawl, even though the color of the yarn used at the top edge seems to shift between a dark brown-leaning raisin to a more rosy-purple. To my eye, all of these color variations are beautiful and unique; and they are clearly not the same.

This is the beauty of handmade and why I love to knit with hand-dyed yarn. Handmade is not uniform; it's ephemeral and individual.

Color on yarn

The Hundred Acre Wood gradient set is a perfect case study in hand-dyed yarn. There was a lot of variation between the dye lots, and also sometimes within the same dye lot. The colors were designed to shift from a dark raisin into a dark forest green, going from raisin to lavender-raisin, to sage green, to mid-tone green and finally to a forest green. Here are our original color chips:

These color chips were expertly translated into yarn and hand-dyed by Anne Podlesak of Wooly Wonka Fibers.

With hand-dyed yarn, even when the dyer follows the exact same recipe, each dye lot can come out of the pot looking quite different based on humidity, ambient temperature, and at least a dozen other factors. I believe this is part of the intrinsic beauty and value of hand-dyed yarn.

Here is the second dye lot of our Hundred Acre Wood gradient, which was what I photographed for the kit listings:

And, here is a selection of gradient colors A and B (the dark raisin and lavender-leaning raisin) from multiple, later dye lots:

The raisin color has been some of the most interesting in the set, with specs of red and purple and rose within it, sometimes from one stitch to another. My colleague knit a Hundred Acre Wood shawl from one of the brownest-leaning batches and there is such depth and variation to it.

Color in photographs

The pictured shawls at the top of this post are of the exact same shawl. You can see how the same shawl and yarn can appear different in different lights. In some photos, the rose undertones of the yarn is more apparent, and in other light, it appears more brown.

I take a lot of care with photographs to try and show all the different variations. My photos (the three on the left of the grid) were taken by a professional in natural light and with minimal photo processing to be as true to life as we could make it.

What to appreciate about handmade

Whether you are new to purchasing hand-dyed yarn, or a long-time aficionado of the beautiful and variable nature of hand-dyeing, I believe it's useful to reflect, from time to time, on what it means to create something handmade with handmade luxury supplies.

Handmade has depth and richness. Yarn colors are layered, with pops of color, small variations, tiny bits where the dye perhaps "broke" and separated into its component parts, and where humidity and temperature, and the swish of fresh water impacts the final result.

Handmade is unique. No two skeins are the same, which can admittedly be frustrating when you need to alternate skeins in a single project, but which contributes to the depth of the whole.

Handmade contains a spark of humanity. Handmade yarn and a handmade tool has a spark of life in it. It's been touched and created by human hands -- hands that have touched hundreds of previous skeins of yarn or fabric and that infuse it with a sensitivity of experience and expertise. It's different than the mass-produced t-shirt that was sewn by someone in a large factory, or commercial fabric that's printed in batches of hundreds of thousands of yards. It's slow, deliberate, careful, and unique.

Handmade infuses creativity into everyday life. Handmade supplies are my preferred, and increasingly my only, way of making handmade items. I love knowing that my hands are creating with something that's been created just for me. It slows me down and adds an extra layer of creativity to whatever I'm knitting, even if what I'm knitting is just a simple hat.

I'd love to know what handmade means to you. Why do you "make" with handmade supplies? What is your beauty of handmade?

4 Responses


March 27, 2017

The yarn for this shawl is a delight to work with. The pattern is very well written. Since this is (I assume ) hand dyed yarn. I am making an exception. The colors are not as described. they are very different from any of the pictures on any of my devices. And certainly very different from the postcard that arrived with the kit. Be aware that the lilac (which looks pink in most pictures) is more of a mauve or flesh toned at best. It is still making a lovely shawl but very muted almost muddy. If you are looking for lively colors, this is not the kit for you

Anne Vally
Anne Vally

March 23, 2017

Mary — I’m so sorry you were disappointed by your kit colors. I’ve emailed you directly to let you know that I would be delighted to take your kit back for a full refund. I do my best to describe the yarn in words and photographs, and I am always a bit saddened if the final kit fails to delight someone. I believe that colors, color description, and the appropriate degree of both consistency of color between batches as well as variance within the skein is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. But regardless of what I love about the yarn, it’s your opinion that matters with regard to your purchase. Which is why I’m generous with my return policy.


March 20, 2017

I have to say I was a little disappointed when I got my kit especially in the fact that my yarns are solid colors with very little to no variation that I was expecting. I know all the issues around hand made, however if you had posted the additional pictures above that show the raisin is more brown than pink I probably would not have bought the kit since the raisin color does not complement my skin. I know handmade it difficult but if you look at the three pictures you show the variance from bright to little variation at all it is very apparent the colors are way beyond the spectrum you show. I buy my most of my yarn from a family run indepent dyer business and though there have been issues of colors changing due to base and speckles (because the are hand done) variance like this really not acceptable. Maybe with going to your new ordering system you can implement a little more quality control so there won’t be variances like this in the future.


February 15, 2017

I grew up in ’60’s Scotland in a family of 8. Most people out of necessity and probably because it was just little more than ten years after WWII rationing, All our sweaters and gardigans were handmade for my five siblings and myself made by my Mother or Nana. Since we emigrated to Canada we’re we became more prosperous and able to buy sweaters Mum no longer knit as much and knitting and crocheting fell out of favour.

I realize now that Mum is gone how much of a treasure that we had from her each time we received a sweater or gardigan.

Now when I crochet or knit for someone I take great care in finding the right colour and the right type of yarn for the person I am making the item for and while I am knitting or crocheting I always remember my Mother knitting in the evening by the coal fire.

Handmade to me means that someone has taken a bit of their time in this busy world and set it aside to show that they care and think of you. I love making something special for someone and I think of that person every time I pick up the needle(s) until I am finished.

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