Where Do Yarns Get Their Color?
Manufacturers of yarn are very precise about their dyeing process. Even if they use almost the exact same formula every single batch, there are a number of external factors that can affect the dyeing process, making it almost impossible for each skein to turn out the exact same color as the last batch. Normally, the amount of water, the temperature, the content of the dye and the time the fiber is bathed in dye are factors that can alter the color of yarn. These factors cause color variations on the dyed yarn, which is why each batch is assigned a different dye lot number. Sometimes, you may hardly notice any difference, but other times the difference can be extremely noticeable.
What is a Dye Lot Number and Where Can I Find It?
Dye lot numbers are typically located on the yarn label. There is a number series on the label listed as “dye lot” or just “lot” – this is the dye lot number of that particular skein and not the pantone number of a particular color.
If you are looking for several skeins of yarn for a project that requires just one color, always make sure that you purchase skeins that have the exact same numbers on the series. If two skeins are from the same number series, this means that they’ve been dyed in the same batch.
The best way to ensure that your project has a consistent color all throughout would be to buy enough yarn of the same dye lot at one go.
Alternatives to Solve Dye Lot Problems
If you do not have enough yarn from the same dye lot, there is no need to fret. You can still make your project look good even if your yarn comes from different dye lots.
The first thing you have to do is choose a complementary color for the skeins you have on hand. What you can do is hold together two different skeins of yarn and squint. This is best done in daylight and not under fluorescent lighting. Another trick could be wrapping each of the colors around a white index card the same way you would do when you use them for your project. Again, it is best to look at them under broad daylight. Decipher whether they are pleasing to look at together or if one of them is jarring. If you think it is pleasing but you’re still not convinced, the next thing you could do is to try the colors together in a swatch. That way, you will have a concrete example of how it will actually look like in a finished product.
Now that you have your yarn of different dye lots, the question is, how will you crochet them? There are several ways for you to do it:
If you have two yarns from different dye lots that vary in color only very slightly from one another, what you can do is leave enough yarn of the old dye lot to crochet 6-10 rows. Attach the new yarn at the beginning of the next row and crochet two rows with the new dye lot. Crochet another two rows using the old dye lot and redo the process until you run out of yarn from the old dye lot. This will blend the two dye lots together and will be able to visually trick the eyes of those who look at your work.
If you are making a garment and halfway you realize you are running out of yarn, what you can do is crochet the odd color on the sleeves and create a border on the bottom of the garment using the odd color. This way you can make it look like the usage of the two different colors is a deliberate choice and not brought about by circumstance. So, what now if the yarn you have from one dye lot cannot even fit to create the entire body of the garment? Don’t sweat it! You can separate the two different dye lots you have using a stripe of a different color in between the body of the garment itself. You can then crochet the stripe into the beginning of its sleeves before you continue crocheting with the odd color.
If you had realized early on that you have yarn from different dye lots, the safest thing to do when you proceed is to do your project in stripes. It doesn’t matter what kind of project you’re trying to complete. The important thing is that at the end of it all, it will look appealing to your eyes. Do this by alternating the two skeins you have for a few rows. Take note that this will only work best if you have the same amount of yarn for the dye lots that you have. What if you have more of one dye lot than the other? You can still create those stripes, but be sporadic when using the yarn you have less of. A good workaround would be to crochet three rows using the yarn from the abundant dye lot and then a single row of the yarn from the dye lot you have less of.
However, if the dye lots are not complementary to one another at all, don’t risk it and consider taking an alternate route. Create an entirely different project instead, or go to the store and buy new yarn. This time, make sure to buy some extra.