Launching Hand-Dyed into f r o m

A basic guide to knitting and crocheting
with hand-dyed yarns
A basic guide to knitting and crocheting with hand-dyed yarns
by SpaceCadet® Creations
edited & designed by Carrie J. Keplinger
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1. Contributors
2. Introduction
3. Understanding The Colour Changes in Hand-Dyed Yarns (by Stephanie Alford)
4. Using Variegated Yarns (by Stephanie Alford)
5. How I Choose the Right Knitting Pattern for My Hand-Dyed Yarn (by Abigail
6. Crocheting with Hand-Dyed Yarn (by Sharon Silverman)
7. Washing Hand-Dyed Textiles (by Christine Maurhoff)
8. About SpaceCadet® Creations
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Abigail Horsfall is a member of TAAT Designs, with whom she created
the winning sock design in the 2011 Sock Summit “Design For Glory”
competition. Her knitting patterns have been featured in several
publications, including Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from
Twilight to Dawn. Abigail lives and knits in Seattle.
Christine Maurhoff is a professional conservator, trained in the
conservation of a broad range of textiles and related materials. She holds
undergraduate degrees in Chemistry, History of Art and Architecture and
Studio Art in addition to a Masters of Art degree in Textile Conservation
from the Textile Conservation Centre (TCC), University of Southampton
(UK). Christine has worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art and The Andy
Warhol Museum, and now works independently in the Pittsburgh area at
Maurhoff Textile Conservation. She is available for examinations,
treatments, collection surveys, as well as consultation on textile storage,
display, handling, pest management and museum quality mounts. She is
also available for lectures on a variety of conservation related topics.
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Sharon Hernes Silverman is a crochet designer, author, and instructor
based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She has written four crochet books
including Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of
Crocheting and Crochet Pillows with Tunisian and Traditional
Techniques. Her next crochet title will be published in fall 2012. Sharon
also has a private line of patterns available at her website and via
Ravelry. You are cordially invited to visit Sharon's website, look her up
on Ravelry (CrochetSharon) and join her on Facebook (Sharon Silverman
Contemporary Crochet).
Stephanie Alford is the SpaceCadet®. She has been fascinated by fiber
ever since she first took spinning lessons at the age of 11. She taught
herself to knit at 19, went back to spinning (and actually got the hang of
it) ten years later and, along the way, picked up a bit of experience in
weaving, a smidge of crochet, and a degree in Textiles and Clothing. But
it was when she began dyeing that she felt she’d really found her calling.
She has lived half her life in the US and the other half in the UK, which
explains her spelling. Stephanie’s hand-dyed yarns and fibers can be
found at SpaceCadet® Creations.
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Those first few steps into knitting or crochet often start small – “I just want to try it” – but quickly
bloom into something much bigger, a journey of crafting that inspires us to move on to ever more
challenging fiber arts. It begins with casting on or a foundation chain, which usually leads to a
simple scarf (and we all have a wonky garter stitch scarf hiding in a closet somewhere, don’t we?).
And from there, it goes on to hats, mitts, shawls, and sweaters. We discover knitting and crochet
magazines, and our skill levels grow. We experiment with novelty yarn, or discover the joys of
luxury fibers. For some of us, the siren call leads us to try spinning, weaving, dyeing. And one day,
we discover the wealth of fiber arts resources on the web...
Once the bug has bitten, there is no going back.
But one thing that often proves a stumbling block on this journey of fiber arts discovery is taking
the leap into hand-dyed yarn. It is a very special kind of yarn, and taking that first step requires a
certain sense of adventure. The colours can be amazing, with depths and tones that are
breathtaking and variegations that can be downright intimidating. Many times knitters and
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crocheters shy away, but that would be missing out on some of the best parts of the fiber arts
So I put together this guide in order to make the move into hand-dyed yarns a little easier. It
explains the basic types of hand-dyed yarns, how to identify them and understand their colour
changes, and how to choose patterns for them. We look at it from the points of view of both
knitting and crochet, and also how best to care for finished objects made with hand-dyed yarn.
For their contributions, I owe a debt of gratitude to Abigail Horsfall of TAAT Designs, Sharon
Silverman of Sharon Silverman Crochet, and Christine Maurhoff of Maurhoff Textile Conservation.
And for her help in putting together this ebook, I am deeply grateful to Carrie Keplinger of
I sincerely hope this guide helps you on your fiber arts journey and gives you that sense of
adventure that allows you freely to explore the amazing world of hand-dyed yarns. Because once
that bug bites? There really is no going back!
SpaceCadet® Creations
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Understanding the Colour
Changes in Hand-Dyed Yarns
by Stephanie Alford
SpaceCadet® Creations
Walking up to a wall of hand-dyed yarns at a fiber festival or yarn show can be daunting. There are
just so many colours! And they are all swirling about one another in crazy, delicious, delirious
combinations. Many knitters and crocheters dive right in, but many others hang back.
“What’s it going to knit up like?” they ask nervously.
“What will it look like?”
There are several things to take into consideration when first using hand-dyed, but the best place
to start is by understanding what type of hand-dyed yarn it is. Whether a yarn is dyed in gently
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undulating shades of the same hue
or with wild changes from one
colour to another makes a big
difference to the type of pattern
that will suit it. And understanding
these differences will help you
choose a stitch that will really show
off both the pattern and the yarn.
Hand-dyed yarns can be generally
put into three categories. I tend to
call them “Semi-Solids,” “Gently
Variegated,” and “Wildly
Carol J. Sulcoski, in her wonderful
book Knitting Socks with
Handpainted Yarns, calls them
“Nearly Solids,” “Muted Multis,”
and “Wild Multis.”
Either way, the distinctions are the
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Semi-solids gently move through
different shades of a single colour.
The transitions from lighter to
darker are usually subtle and
gradual, giving the colour more
life than if it had been dyed in a
single shade. Because the colour
changes in Semi-solids aren’t
very attention-seeking, they
don’t draw the eye away from
intricate stitch work. And for that
reason, Semi-solid yarns are a
wonderful choice for complicated
patterns and delicate lace work.
Examples of Semi-solids are
SpaceCadet’s Celeste yarn in
Torment and Lucina yarn in
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Gently Variegated yarns contain more than
one colour but the overall effect is still
subtle and gentle. The colours are all
closely related in either hue or value, so the
changes don’t pop out too much. Gently
Variegated yarns can be used for textured
stitchwork, but they work best
where the patterns are simpler
so the colour changes don’t
compete with the stitches. The
kind of intricate patterns that
work so beautifully with Semisolids would be overwhelmed by
Gently Variegated yarns, but
choosing a simpler pattern lets
their colours sing.
SpaceCadet’s Luna Laceweight
in Resplendence and Lucina
yarn in Translucence are good
examples of Gently Variegated
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And finally, there are Wildly Variegated yarns. These are the
yarns that grab everyone’s eye, the ones that seem to jump
right out of the yarn basket and yell, “Look at meeee!” They
contain multiple colours of wildly differing hues and values,
and their colour changes are distinct and eye-catching. With
colour as commanding as that, the key
is to choose a knitting pattern that
will make the colours the feature and
not compete with them. So, with
Wildly Variegated yarns, the best
patterns use simple stitches that
really let the yarn show itself off.
Good examples of Wildly Variegated
yarns are SpaceCadet’s Celeste yarn
in Submerge and Estelle yarn in Cold
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So, there we have it. Three categories of hand-dyed yarns — Semi-Solid, Gently Variegated, and
Wildly Variegated — and one simple rule to start out with:
When the yarn has wild colour changes, go for simpler
stitchwork. Conversely, when the colour changes are gentler,
the yarn can handle more complicated pattern work.
Just keeping that in mind when you match your yarns to patterns will help ensure you end up with
finished objects in which both your yarn and your stitches shine.
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Using Variegated Yarns
by Stephanie Alford
SpaceCadet® Creations
Sometimes, when I'm talking to a customer at a show or yarn festival and she's holding a crazycoloured yarn in her hands, she'll look down at it and say, "It's beautiful, but what do I make with
it?!" And I totally understand where she's coming from: hand-dyed yarn can be quite intimidating,
especially if it's full of wildly variegated colours.
No need! Choosing a pattern for your yarn – any yarn – can be easy. It's just a matter of
understanding how your variegated yarn and pattern will work together.
Two types of variegated yarn
The first thing to understand about wildly variegated yarns is that they come in two basic types:
yarns with short repeats and those with long repeats (by short repeats, I mean any stretch of
colour that is less than about six inches).
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It's the length of the
colour repeat that will
determine how the
colour behaves in the
knitted garment.
Let's start with plain
Stockinette (Stocking)
Stitch. A yarn with long
colour repeats knit in
plain Stockinette will
start to form stripes, of a
sort. Depending on the length of
the colour repeat and the size of the
garment being knitted, the stripes may be
thin or thick, they may be regular or more random,
they may pool or not... but striping is what long
colour repeats will try to do.
And when the colours in the yarn are complimentary
and harmonious, this striping can be lovely: gentle
undulations from one shade to another. But when the
yarn is dyed in contrasting colours, the shifting
stripes can be jarring to some people, and the
contrast can emphasize the irregularity of the colour
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Short colour repeats give little bursts of colour. The
general rule is that each knit stitch is one-third the
length of the yarn used to produce it. So, if you have
a colour repeat that is 6 inches in length, that will
produce 2 inches worth of stitches in that colour. A
colour repeat that is only 2 inches long will give twothirds of an inch in that colour – probably only a few
When a yarn has a few short sections of colour set
against a single main colour, this will knit into into short
strips (or almost even polka-dots) of the shorter colour
in Stockinette. When a yarn has many different short
sections of colour one after another, they form mini
stripes that create an almost mosaic effect, with all the
many colours blending into one another. Then turn the
same piece over, and observe how the purl stitches
become dots of colour, almost like a Pointillist painting.
And again, whether or not this is going to work in the
finished fabric depends a lot on the colours in the yarn.
A yarn with short colour repeats in complimentary
colours can give a beautiful watercolour effect, or it
can end up blending so much that the individual
colours are lost. The same type of yarn dyed in
sharply contrasting colours can be too jarring when
all the shades come together. Or, worse, their close
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proximity can cause them to muddy, and appear almost brownish from a distance, regardless of the
individual colours. If in doubt, do a swatch first.
Sometimes yarns have both short and long colour repeats. In this case, the knitted fabric will form
stripes from the long repeats broken up at regular intervals by the bursts of colour from the short
So, that's the first step all done: understanding the colour repeats in your highly variegated yarn.
So far, so good, right? Ok, now all you have to do is find the pattern that will bring out the best
in your yarn.
Choosing the right pattern for your yarn
Now that you understand your yarn, you need to decide what you'd like it to do. It's not difficult at
all – just a matter of combining what you now know about how a yarn behaves with the way a
pattern is going to manipulate it.
Let's start with the easy stuff first.
If you love the irregular striping that long colour repeats produce and that's the kind of yarn you've
got, then all you have to do is cast on a nice pattern that is predominantly Stockinette stitch and
the yarn will start to form those lovely stripes all by itself!
And if you love the crazy mosaic effect that short colour repeats create and that's the yarn you've
chosen, then, again, it's easy: just find a nice Stockinette-based pattern and let the yarn do its
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But what if you have a long colour repeat yarn and you don't want it to stripe? In that case, the key
is to choose a pattern with stitchwork that breaks up the repeats. Patterns that include crossovers,
slipped stitches, or short rows manipulate the colours to pull out particular shades and really make
them pop.
Here's an example of a simple pattern that alternates sections of knit and purl stitches to break the
colour repeats up. The addition of crossover stitches at the corners of each purl square really pulls
out and emphasizes certain shades.
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And here's a pattern that uses crescent shapes to successfully manipulate the colour repeats so
that both shades really pop.
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Now, about that yarn you’re
holding in your hands...
Once you understand the basics of how colour repeats behave, it becomes much easier to choose a
pattern for any kind of yarn. When you pick up a variegated yarn – even a Wildly Variegated yarn
with a million different colours – you can turn it over in your hands and start to think what you'd
like to see those colours do in your finished object.
Do you want them to stripe? Check to see if they're long colour repeats. Do you want them to form
a mosaic-like effect? Check to see if they have short colour repeats and look for a pattern that
uses plainer stitchwork. And if there are long colour repeats that you'd like to break up, pair the
yarn with a pattern that uses more complicated stitchwork to manipulate the colours and make
them pop.
Are you looking at that yarn differently now? There's a whole world of possibilities once Wildly
Variegated yarns look a little less intimidating!
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How I Choose the Right Knitting
Pattern for My Hand-Dyed Yarn
by Abigail Horsfall of TAAT Designs
2011 TAAT Designs
I was recently reflecting on how I choose patterns for my hand-dyed yarns and realized that it’s
not just about the yarn, but also about the potential contained within it. Let me walk through how it
works for me.
When I see a skein of yarn, I see more than just the yarn itself.
I see the twist of the yarn, the way the colors blend together, and how the fiber appears. From
here, however, it’s not always straightforward to picture what the yarn will look like when it is knit
up, which makes it hard to choose a pattern. Especially with hand-dyed yarns, there’s always a bit
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of uncertainty. How long is each bit of color? Do the colors repeat in a systematic manner, or are
they completely random? With experience, it becomes easier to predict these things without
knitting a swatch, but even a prediction is still no guarantee of what the finished product will look
Most hand-dyed yarns do have a predictable repeat. This means that they will tend toward pooling
or striping, depending on the length of each stretch of color. The best way I have found to
determine this is to unwind a length of the yarn – two yards is usually enough.
If the entire length is all one color, then the yarn will stripe in many usages (socks, children’s
sweaters, hats, mittens – anything that is less than about 2 feet in circumference or width).
If the length is multiple colors, then you can try to predict whether it will stripe or not by
estimating how many stitches you can get out of each color section (a good rule of thumb is that it
takes three times as much yarn as the length of fabric you are knitting across).
Once you know roughly whether the yarn will stripe or not, it becomes easier to choose a pattern.
My preference is for yarns that do not stripe, or have minimal striping – I like a new color in every
row of my knitting. I’m also a big fan of knitting socks with hand-dyed yarns, so that’s usually
where my mind first goes.
When I received my skein of SpaceCadet® Creations Celeste Yarn in Cold Waters, I wasn’t sure at
first what it wanted to be. The colors were so subtle and yet striking all at once, and I wanted to
choose a pattern that would really show off the colors. From looking at the yarn, I was able to
predict that it would stripe slightly, but not be too overpowering. There was also not much chance
of pooling (which I do my best to avoid). This told me that I didn’t need to choose a pattern that
would actively reduce pooling, but I didn’t want to choose a pattern that was too busy, either, so
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that I didn’t overpower the yarn. Because Cold Waters uses tonal shading rather than lots of
different colors, however, I knew the pattern could have a little something going on.
Around the time I received my Cold Waters, I also received a gorgeous pattern from Yarnissima
(through a monthly sock yarn club I belong to), The Portland Gussets. I had been looking for the
perfect yarn for this pattern, and Cold Waters seemed like it would fit. It had everything I was
looking for: medium-length color repeats (too short, and the pattern would be lost in the yarn), not
too much color variation (any more, and the yarn would obscure the pattern), but enough visual
interest (not enough, and the pattern would be boring).
I quickly cast on, and the socks came out exactly as I’d hoped. The pattern and yarn were a great
fit, because I’d taken the time to understand the yarn before I decided on a pattern for it.
When you’re knitting hand-dyed yarns, each skein is
a unique adventure.
With a little practice, it becomes easy to match a yarn to a pattern. If you take the time to examine
the yarn and read its color repeat, choosing a pattern won’t be difficult – the yarn will help you.
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Crocheting with Hand-dyed Yarn
by Sharon Hernes Silverman of Sharon Silverman Contemporary Crochet
2011 Sharon Hernes Silverman
Crocheting with variegated yarn — especially a hand-dyed product — can be a joy. Match up a
gorgeous colorway with an interesting stitch pattern, and the results are often spectacular!
Sometimes, though, yarn that looks amazing in the skein seems mediocre or even unattractive in
the finished item. What happened, and how can you avoid this disappointing situation?
To increase the chances that your project will meet your
expectations, it helps to understand the yarn's color
characteristics as well as the anatomy of the crochet stitches
you plan to use.
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This holds true whether you are working on a published pattern or are designing something
First, look at two aspects of the yarn:
• How subtle or extreme the colors are in relation to each other.
• How quickly the colors change. (Some yarns run for many yards before one hue yields to
the next; others change color every inch or two.)
Evaluate your answers in the context of your project. Your goal is to balance the intricacy of the
pattern and the complexity of the yarn.
For example, a complicated, textured pattern such as crocheted cables could be hard to see if you
use a rainbow yarn that changes color every inch. A colorway that is less vivid, and changes from
color to color more slowly, would be a better choice. On the other hand, for something more basic
such as rows of double crochet, a more dramatic colorway might be perfect. Subtle yarn, in that
case, could be boring.
With those color characteristics in mind, make swatches of the stitches you are considering. The
samples use a size G/4.25 mm hook and Estelle fingering weight yarn (80% superwash merino
wool, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon) from SpaceCadet® Creations in the Old Cottage Bricks colorway
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The height of each stitch defines how much yarn is used per stitch. For example, in low-profile
single crochet, the yarn makes several stitches before changing color:
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Double and treble crochet stitches are taller (and therefore require more yarn per stitch), so the
color change happens more quickly. For example, while the light pink extends eight or nine stitches
in single crochet, it only lasts for about three or four stitches in double crochet, and just over two
stitches in treble:
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Another stitch pattern to consider is Tunisian simple stitch. Also known as "afghan stitch," Tunisian
crochet is kind of a hybrid of knitting and crocheting. The work is never turned; instead, loops are
added onto the hook in one direction, then worked off the hook the other way. Tunisian simple
stitch offers interesting possibilities for colorwork because the vertical bars contrast with the
horizontal threads that run behind them:
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You may also want to try a motif, to get a feel for how the colors work in a square or round shape
instead of in rows:
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Look at all of your swatches together and see what looks most appealing. Usually this will be
apparent to you immediately. (Remember that there is no "right" answer; the important thing is that
you like the results.)
Any variegated yarn, whether hand-dyed
or mass-produced, can have the problem
of "pooling," in which you get a big blob of
one color in the same spot row after row.
To avoid this, some experts recommend
winding the yarn into two balls; work from
one for two or three rows, then switch to
the other. I suggest that you look at your
work in progress every few rows. If your
yarn starts to pool, fasten off at the end of
the row, cut the next few yards off so you
skip over the problem point, then rejoin
the yarn.
It's worth taking a little time
up front to get to know your
variegated yarn and your
stitch patterns.
When you finish your project and stand
back to admire it, you'll say, "Color me
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Washing hand dyed textiles
by Christine Maurhoff of Maurhoff Textile Conservation
2011 Maurhoff Textile Conservation
There is no single method for washing dyed textiles – each batch of dyed yarn is a bit of a special
snowflake when it comes to washing it. There are many things to consider before washing an item
made from hand-dyed yarns, including fibre content, the number of colours used, the depth of the
shades, and the type of dye used.
The type of dye is mostly dependent on the fibre content of the yarn and the dyer’s preference.
Dyes are formulated in a way that is best suited to the properties of the fibre. There are four main
categories of yarns: wool and silk, plant fibres, synthetic fibres, and blends.
For the wool and silk fibres, the dye binds to the amino acids (proteins) in the fibre structure.
Cotton dyes bind to the glucose groups through hydrogen bonding. And synthetic dyes are specific
to the type of fibre (acetate, acrylic, nylon, or polyester) and its chemical composition. Blended
yarns are generally made from fibres that use the same type of dye to colour it.
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The colour of the dye or dyes and the depth of the shade can be
problematic as each dye has its own personality when it
comes to washing, and the deeper the shade the more
that personality comes out. Everyone knows red dyes
bleed for up to several washes, and who hasn’t washed a
new pair of jeans only to have everything else in the load
come out tinted with indigo! Dark, intense colours require a
lot of dye to get the colour so deep and rich, and not all of
the excess dye is rinsed out in the dying process; not even
the most experienced dyer can achieve this. Every dyed yarn
will bleed a little, especially the first time it is washed. If you
are doing something with lots of colourwork and are concerned
about dye bleeding, wash the yarns once or twice before using
them to get the bulk of the fugitive dyes out.
It is helpful to keep a journal of the things you wash and what
worked well and what did not. This will help you develop your
skills and also remember how one sweater responds to
washing versus another one.
What I have for you are some general tips for hand washing
hand-dyed items using two methods and how to avoid some
of the problems that occur when washing them.
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The detergent will depend on the fibre content of the item to be washed.
Wool and silk fibres – I like to use a natural detergent made from nuts that are crushed into a
powder, called saponin. There is something about the formulation of this detergent that works well
with animal fibres such as wool and silk and really brings out its natural luster and shine. NatureOil
has a large range of this type of soap, but a little goes a long way.
Cotton and plant fibres – I have found that Orvus WA Paste works wonders on cotton fabrics but
can be used for any blend of fibres. This detergent makes lots of suds, which is great for use in a
technique I’ll describe later on. A little goes a very long way!
Synthetics and blends – I haven’t found one detergent that works better than others for synthetics,
so use your judgment or preferred detergent. For blends, if it is partially made from natural fibres,
go with a detergent suited for those fibres.
Unknown fibre contents – Use your judgment. There is no real wrong choice in detergents. I
generally like to use detergents that are not diluted with fillers and additives like most detergents
on the grocery store shelves. Concentrated detergents are generally better for the environment
and are usually more economical. I know a lot of knitters use Soak and that is a great choice, too.
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I have two techniques to share with you: a traditional method and
one that has been developed in the past few years.
Traditional Method
This method is ideal for items made of one colour or similar
colours, but it can be used in most situations.
Materials – it helps to have everything ready and at your
• Bowl/Container – I really recommend a glass bowl
or something light coloured so that you can see the
item in the water. Washing something in a black bottom
bowl will not show you if the dyes are bleeding into the water and
at what rate. Also make sure it is big enough for the item to be covered
by the water and have a little room to swish around in it with both of your hands.
Knowing how many cups, pints, or litres of water the bowl holds will help but isn’t a
• Frame with screen – This can be useful for drying objects. I have seen them in stores
advertised as sweater dryers, or you can make your own. To make your own, I have used
pvc pipes for the frame and tulle for the screen. Just be sure it is large enough to
accommodate your item.
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• Sponges – I like to use natural sponges, the kind from the sea, to clean textiles. It helps to
push the water and detergent between the fibres and penetrate the item thoroughly. The
natural sponges won’t interact with the fibres and don’t have any leftover chemicals from
processing them. You have to clean them before their first use, and dig out bits of the
sponge’s last meal, but they work nicely and hold up longer than a chemically made sponge
when properly cared for.
• Towels – Lots of towels to help blot the item dry after washing.
• Flat spaces – For working and drying the item.
1. Choose the detergent best suited for your item. I like to mix two batches of the detergent so I
can have two washes. I usually use a gallon-sized bottle that water or milk comes in to mix my
solutions. For each gallon, you will need 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of detergent. A little goes a
really long way, especially when it comes to the Orvus WA Paste! Mix it up and let it sit for an
hour or more. This will allow the detergent to distribute itself evenly throughout the water. Pull
together everything you will need while you wait.
2. Fill the bowl with water and allow your item to soak in the water for 5-10 minutes. Use your
hands to agitate the item a bit and help the water to penetrate the fibres. After ten minutes,
empty the water and fill the bowl with your first batch of detergent. Again let the item soak for
a few minutes before starting to agitate it. Use the sponge as needed to help push the detergent
through the fibres. After twenty minutes of excessive dye bleeding, empty the dirty detergent
solution and add clean detergent solution. Use the sponge or your hands and work the solution
through the fibres. After another 20 minutes, or if you feel the item is sufficiently clean, empty
the dirty water and add clean water to rinse it. Agitate the item and use the sponge to release
the detergent from the fibres. A few rinses will be necessary, especially if the detergent had a
lot of suds or foam. If it continues to dye bleed during the rinses, use as few rinses as possible
to remove the detergent and move on.
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3. Once it is sufficiently rinsed, lay the item out to dry on the towels and blot it dry with additional
towels. Never wring the item. If the item was dye bleeding in the wash water, drying will be the
trickiest part. You will want to get the item dried before the fugitive dyes can migrate and blend
with other colours in a multi-coloured piece. Once most of the water is removed by blotting, lay
out your item and pin to help it keep its shape. To speed up the drying time, it helps to have a
fan circulate air in the room.
Foam Method
This method is ideal for items with lots of different colours,
stripes, colour work, intarsia, Fair Isle, etc. Since the dyes
are not set free in the water, any dye bleeding is more
controlled and won’t migrate into areas where you don’t want
it to. It still requires careful attention but is generally a safer
approach to items that dye bleed. It is also a good method for
things that are too delicate to swish around in a bowl of water
and is a great technique for treating stains.
This method will work well with a detergent that foams
excessively, like Orvus WA Paste.
Materials – it helps to have everything ready and at your fingertips!
• Frame with screen – This can be useful for drying objects. I
have seen them in stores advertised as sweater dryers, or
you can make your own. To make your own, I have used pvc pipes for the frame and tulle
for the screen. Just be sure it is large enough to accommodate your item.
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• Foam pump bottles – These bottles take your detergent solution and create a dense foam
from the liquid solution. You might be able to repurpose one that comes with hand soap in it
once you are done with it.
• Misting/Spray bottles – The kind you use for ironing, or something similar to what Windex
comes in. It must produce a mist of water and not shoot a beam of water.
• Tray – A cookie sheet with edges works well for this. You just need something to catch
drips under the screened frame.
• Towels – These can be used in lieu of a tray but require lots of frequent
• Flat spaces – For working and drying the item.
1. Make a concentrated batch of the liquid soap using 3-4
times more detergent than what you normally would use in
the traditional method. Put it in the foam pump bottle and
test it out on a washcloth or towel. You want a dense foam
that sits on the surface and then gradually soaks through
your item and out the bottom through the screen to the drip
pan or towels below. It needs to be dense but not too dense.
Experimentation will help you to find what concentration
will work best.
2. Lay your item to be cleaned on the surface of the screen.
Place the drip tray or towels below it.
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3. Begin to pump an even layer of foam over the whole
surface. It is possible to work in sections if needed.
From the underside of the screen, monitor the foam to
make sure it is dripping through the item and check
that the colours are not bleeding. Gravity should pull
the foam straight down and prevent the dyes from
shifting too much. Work the foam over the item in
layers allowing each layer to soak through before
applying more. When you feel the item is
sufficiently clean, use the spray bottle to mist
water over the item and lightly rinse out the
detergent. The whole point of this method is
to avoid submerging the item in water. Leave
the item to dry and use a fan to circulate the
air around it to help increase drying time.
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About SpaceCadet Creations
When I was a kid and I’d do something dumb (the way kids do), my dad used to call me a “space
cadet.” It was always said with love... and tinged with exasperation. There was a lot of love in the
house while I was growing up, even as we tried our parents’ patience time and again. But I did a lot
of dumb things, and I got called a space cadet a lot. Eventually the nickname started to really stick,
and I began to feel like I really was a space cadet and that I did a lot of things wrong. Sometimes I
still do.
So I decided a long time ago that when I finally worked up the courage to break out of the mould of
ordinary work and do something creative – something I wanted to be proud of – I was going to
name my project “SpaceCadet.” I would baptise that old nickname with a new meaning! At SpaceCadet® Creations, I hand-dye yarns and fiber for knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists,
mixing every colour by hand from primaries. What this means is that I use no pre-mixed dyes, and
so every single colour you see on SpaceCadet® yarns and fibers has been created entirely by hand
from the basic primary colours, just like you learned in art class when you were a little kid. Each
dye lot is created individually, and that makes every SpaceCadet® yarn unique.
I can say, at last, that I am proud to be the SpaceCadet®.
the Dyer at SpaceCadet® Creations.
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A Guide to SpaceCadet® Creations Yarns
Laceweight Yarn
Luna Laceweight is stunningly light and soft, and takes on colour with a beautiful silky sheen. And
sooooo smooshy!
• 2-ply blend of 20% Silk and 80% superfine Merino
• 1300 yards/100g (that’s almost 3/4 of a mile!)
Fingering Weight Yarn
Celeste is a super-soft and versatile light fingering yarn – the perfect go-to yarn for almost any
• 3-ply in 100% Superwash Merino
• a very generous 490 yards per 100g
Stella beautifully combines softness with strength.
• A distinctive 2-ply of 80% Superwash Merino and 20% Nylon
• 400 yards per 100g
Estelle is a heavier fingering weight with a touch of cashmere that makes it incredibly soft.
• 3-ply blend of 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon, and 10% Cashmere
• 430 yards/100g
Lucina is a stunningly sparkly (and super-soft) yarn you simply have to see!
• 2-ply of 75% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon, and 5% Stellina
• 430 yards/100g
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DK Yarn
Astrid is beautifully smooshy, warm and soft — perfect for a project that calls for a yarn with a
little more oomph.
• 4-ply, DK (double knitting) weight yarn in 100% Superwash Merino
• 230 yards per 100g
All yardages are approximate.
The Department of Rocket Science And the Yarn Adventurers
There’s a lot of experimentation that goes on in the SpaceCadet® studio – experimentations with
new colour combinations, with new yarns and fibers – and that may be the start of something great
or may become one-of-a-kind specials. The results of all this experimentation are destined for the
Department of Rocket Science – a special place where you can find unusual yarns born of the
creative process, that may never (or maybe can never!) be exactly repeated again.
But before that happens, we offer the very best of these yarns to our Yarn Adventurers – a small,
core group of our customers who really, really love this kind of yarn. These are customers who
like to break new ground, who want to try new things, who love the possibility of knitting with a
yarn that no one else may ever get their hands on. The Yarn Adventurers get to see these yarns
waaaaay before they ever go into the shop – in fact, they may never even get into the shop! If you
would like to be a Yarn Adventurer – if you would like to see these special yarns before anyone
else does – then click here to get on the Yarn Adventurers’ mailing list.
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