Hints for Hanks

Are your hanks giving you fits?

Here's how to prevent undyed spots and tangles.


Problem: Your finished yarn has white marks where the dye failed to penetrate.

Solution: The ties were too tight.

Yarn tends to expand when wet. If your ties aren't loose, they can prevent the food color from bonding to the yarn beneath.

Try making ties large enough that you can easily get two fingers thru along with your yarn.


After all, ties are scrap yarn. It's better to "waste" a bit of scrap then to have to re-dye your yarn.

In this photo, I'm making Self-Striping yarn with Lion Brand Amazing.



Problem: Your yarn ends up in a big tangled mess.

The yarn looks good after dyeing. But when you start to cake or ball, chaos takes over.

Solution 1: Increase the number of ties.

A boring solution but a bit more preparation will save tears later.

Just like washing fabric before sewing, measuring twice before you cut the wood - tie the base yarn more often than you think you should.

On this 500 yard monster, I placed 4 ties every time I made 10 rounds.

I used two chairs as a skeining tool. Every time I walked around the chair 10 times I tied that set of 10 together in 4 places.

When the yarn ran out, I tied the whole hank in four places with very large ties.

This prevents the base yarn from pulling out of alignment (leaving some loops too small and some too big).

The big loops are also nifty handles if you're dip dyeing. This yarn was used for my handpaint and immersion video.


Solution 2: Different colored ties.

Back when frogs ruled the world, I made a figure 8 tie. (If you're not sure what this is, that's fine as I'm going to show you a better way).

Oh, the wailing when trying to decipher which set of ten rounds was supposed to be unwound in which order.

Now, I make each round of ties a different color.

In this photo I started with purple ties.

Then yellow, baby blue and on until the blue and black stripped ties.

After dyeing, I put the yarn back on the chairs, found all the yarn contained in the purple ties and started caking or balling just those (leaving the other areas tied until it's their turn).


Solution 3: Wait until the hank is dry before you start playing with it.

Yes, it's hard to wait.

But, wool sticks to itself when wet.




Problem: You don't like to make balls or cakes.

Solution: With smaller amounts of yarn, you can knit with the yarn still in the same hank you dyed it in.

(well, provided you're not going on a road trip).

Here the yarn is draped over a chair.

I've pulled up the next set of ten rounds tied with the dark green yarn.

Snipping just those ties, I can knit along tangle-free.

Saves time making yarn cakes, but limits my knitting to where I can reach the chair.

The yarn here is Washable Ewe.



Hints about vinegar.

See our new AmeriColor pages.

Go back to Instructions.

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