Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seeing through the haze

I have a thing for sock yarns, even if I don't always use them for socks. Forget shot glasses and t-shirts--my idea of a great souvenir is a skein of something luscious and yummy and preferably local to wherever I happen to be visiting. Don't get me wrong. A really great 1824 weight makes for a versatile option when you love the yarn but aren't sure what you'd do with it. But I love me some sock yarn, and my stash doesn't lie. I love it so much, I'm a member of the Rockin' Sock Club, for a second year in a row. Only a fiberholic can understand the excitement of trying to guess the colorway, or what the pattern will be like, months before the yarn even ships. And only a yarn addict understands stalking the mail carrier until, JOY, that precious package finally arrives, and you rip it open, hands shaking.

I was lucky enough to attend Knot Hysteria last November, in Port Ludlow, Washington. Tina Newton, dyer extraordinaire of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, taught a day-long dye class. It was a blast, not only dyeing yarn for the very first time, but meeting Tina as well. I learned so much, but I came away with one extremely important realization--I'd rather buy hand-dyed yarn than do it myself. Don't get me wrong. I really like the skeins I brought home. I would even describe a couple of them as downright gorgeous, but I guess that's kind of like when parents think their baby is the most beautiful baby ever, even if nobody else thinks so. The whole thing gave me a greater appreciation for the professional dyers of the yarn world.

When I needed a sock yarn for the Ravelympics, I chose Blackbird, from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Raven line, for the Arch-Shaped Socks. It's a very dark colorway that has an interesting side effect--hazing. A bit of the color ends up on your hands (and needles if you use the plastic kind.) Hazing is not the same as bleeding--if the yarn bleeds, that indicates the yarn is fading. In my mind, the haze is a good thing. It means the dyer wasn't chinzy with their dyes. They used enough to really saturate the yarn with color, and the extra that ends up on your hands and under your nails proves it. Give your hand-knit a nice soak and you're done. Good dyes might haze, but they shouldn't fade. Makes sense, eh?


For me that's a small price to pay for deep, rich colors. It also means you probably won't end up with those funny little white spots where the yarn blanks didn't pick up any dye. It most certainly means you aren't using anything I dyed, and that's a good thing.

2 comments:

  1. I'm still new to all of these new dyers -- and can honestly be said to be addicted to sock yarns. I didn't know about hazing, and probably would have thought it was a bad thing. Thanks!

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  2. Shhh... let's not mention that I have only knitted ONE (ONE) pair of socks.. but, I have too many skeins of sock yarn that I am not willing to admit the actual count to anyone.

    Double shhh.. all of this sock yarn has been purchased in the past year while living in Germany.. Can I help it that they SELL SOCK YARN IN THE GROCERY STORE???

    CAN I?? I mean.. it's stashed right by the gummy bear packages! How can I not grab a skein or two of the sock yarn when I buy some gummy bears??

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Let it all hang out. I usually respond, but if you're in the witness protection program and your email address is a secret, maybe check back here to see if I left a snappy comeback.