Caring for Hand Dyed Yarn
We heat set all of our yarn and rinse in harsher conditions than you ever should with textile detergents to release any leftover dye however, colors do what they do whether they are on hand dyed yarns or designer garments (read more about our process here).
Hand dyed yarn is best washed in cold water by hand with like colors and laid flat to dry. Superwash yarns may not felt as easily because of their superwash treatment but they are not immune to felting given the right conditions. Heat can damage the treatment and cause felting. Too much agitation, even in the coldest of water, can cause damage to the stitch work of your hand mades.
If you are planning on pairing a dark color with a lighter color or a saturated color with a paler shade it is especially important to swatch and do a wash test. Like all other garments, colors may bleed in the wash and there is nothing worse than spending weeks or months hand making an item only to have the colors bleed when soaking.
Color bleeding is not a fault. Every dye manufacturer releases data sheets regarding the washfast of their colors & dyers can only work with what we are given. Bleeding is normal with colors, especially saturated shades, reds, pinks, and many blues. I've had a few white garments turned pink or a dingy grey in my lifetime thanks to accidentally mixing whites and colors in the laundry. Bleeding that never ends or bleeding that results in the actual color fading right off the bat instead of after a lot washes is something to be concerned about.
Certain shades, especially deep blues or turquoise, may crock. Crocking is when loose dye particles remain in the yarn fibers and are released onto hands or needles. If you've ever gotten a dark blue paid of new jeans and your legs turned blue you will probably experience crocking at some point in your life. Some people this may never happen to - it's a skin pH thing. Just because it happens doesn't mean the yarn will bleed but an extra careful rinse is a good idea. Non-superwash and silks are more prone to do this than other blends. I like to use color catchers found in the laundry department with things like this when I wash them the first time.
What to do if you have a bleeder:
If dye is coming out but the color of the yarn is staying the same then it's set, it's just releasing loose particles. While we rinse with textile detergent and warm water to release these before the yarn goes out to you, different water pH and added chemicals can change the chemistry of things. My studio may have different water than yours and hard water and minerals are especially tough on dye. An extra wash/rinse should solve your woes.
If your yarn is bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and it appears the color is actually changing then you need to set it. Rinsing it in vinegar will not set it. Vinegar is a great additive for your rinse and will work like a fabric softener and help maintain your colors but it does not set dye. All of our dyes must be heat set in addition to having an acid like vinegar added.
To set the yarn, soak it in a glug of vinegar then either put it in a pan you never ever intend to cook in again and simmer on the stove until it is 190 degrees for 30 minutes or wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave it. If you are cooking it on the stove make sure there is enough water in the pan to submerge the yarn, do NOT let it boil, do not agitate it, and don't let it burn on the bottom. If you are microwaving make sure it is completely moist before wrapping it, then cook it for about 2.5 minutes then let it rest for about 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice more. Questions? Please don't hesitate to ask.