It sometimes happens that you need to buy another ball of yarn to finish a project, or the store doesn’t have enough in one dye lot for your planned project. What should you do? Well, first of all don’t panic. If you are using an acrylic yarn it is very rare that the is any discernible difference from one dye lot to the next. When you are using a yarn that has a natural fibre content there is a slightly greater chance that there might be a difference.
What is a dye lot
Every ball of yarn has a dye lot printed beside the colour number or name. This is to indicate what batch of dyeing it was in. All balls of yarn made from the one batch of dyeing will have the same lot number on the ball band.
Why do dye lots vary?
The main reason the dye lots vary is that the “recipe” that was used might have varied ever so slightly. Some colours are more temperamental, such as purples and red and the slightest difference in the quantity of one of the shades added to the dye bath can affect the end result.
When the yarn being dyed is from a natural source, for example wool, it can be affected by the fact that the wool came from a different flock. The original colour of the yarn may have been a different natural shade to begin with. Or the yarn may have been much drier when it was spun. If you ever colour your hair, you will know how the shade can vary depending on the condition of your hair and therefore how it absorbs the colour. It is just the same with yarn.
How do I work around this challenge?
We have a couple of suggestions to help when the dye lots differ.
- If only one ball is a different dye lot our best suggestion is to use it to complete the cuffs, the neck or any of the ribs. This is because these are usually a different texture and therefore any slight colour different is hidden by the way the light reflects off it.
- If you have half and half of two different dye lots the best idea is to knit the front and back first. This ensures that the main parts don’t have any discernible difference. Then use the second dye lot to knit your sleeves. Because the stitches on the sleeves face in a different direction from the body the light deflection comes to the rescue again.
- Sometimes we don’t realise until the project is nearly finished that we will need an extra ball. In this case we suggest that you introduce the different dye lot when you still have about half a ball of your original dye lot. Using the new dye lot knit two rows, then carry the original dye lot up the side of your knitting and knit the next two rows. Continue like this until you are using only the new dye lot and the original one has finished. This tip helps to blend the two shades in gently rather than having a very definite shade change in your garment.