What is a dye lot? Like me, I’m sure that you’ve asked yourself that very same question. The truth is that a lot of people start crocheting with absolutely no idea as to what a dye lots are, or it even matters. It DOES.
A dye lot is a series of numbers on the yarn’s ball band label that tells you exactly what color your yarn is.
You see, most companies dye their yarn in batches; sometimes around 3,000 skeins at a time! They dye their batches individually, and factors such as humidity, water pH, and others can have an effect on the dying process. This can cause variations in color from one batch to another.
A Dye Lot Example
Say a company creates a shade of red for their yarn and they name it… let’s say Candy Apple Red. Their first batch is dyed and sold. They dye their second batch with the same shade, but it looks slightly different from the first. However, they still label it Candy Apple Red and sell it as such. Now, what’s that to you?
Let’s say that one day you bought several of the Candy Apple Red yarn in order to make an afghan. You soon realize that you didn’t buy enough yarn to finish it; so, you go and buy some more. However, unbeknownst to you, you originally bought yarn from the first batch and this time you bought from the second batch. When you use it to finish your afghan, you realize that the colors don’t exactly match and your afghan doesn’t look anything like you hoped it would.
How to Use Dye Lots
Thanks to dye lots, that problem is avoidable. Factories give a unique dye lot to each batch of yarn, and no two batches have the same one. Whenever you buy yarn, make sure the dye lot is the same for all of your yarn of the same color, and always, ALWAYS buy extra. Unless you’re absolutely positive that you know exactly how much you need.
Even if you have the dye lot number, finding more with the same dye lot will be extremely hard if purchased at a later date than the original. Because any lapse of time could mean that you have no choice but to buy from a new batch.
So, I’ll say it again: ALWAYS check the dye lot and ALWAYS buy extra. You’ll be glad that you did.
The Dye Lot Dilemma
Life happens. Let’s face it: sometimes we are left with no choice but to buy from a new batch. At this point, you normally have three options:
- Pull out your yarn and make a smaller project with it,
- supplement with more yarn from a different dye lot, or
- give up entirely.
This post will be going over option two. Because most of us don’t want to be told to switch gears and start another project, and we certainly aren’t ready to throw in the towel – at least not yet.
Things to Consider
The first thing you need to consider before adding the new dye lot into the mix is how drastically it contrasts with your original yarn. Since dye lot variations are due to uncontrollable factors and are not a planned deviance, the contrast in color can be anything from very slight to glaringly obvious.
In order to know for sure, hold the two yarn strands (one from each dye lot) together under good lighting – preferably sunlight. You could even lay them across a white piece of paper to make it easier to tell. However, the best idea would be to make a quick gauge swatch with the two yarns in order to see how they look together (stripes are always a good idea when comparing colors).
Now that you can see your two strands together, you can determine:
- How much of a contrast there really is
- Whether you like it or not.
Using Different Dye Lots
If your contrast is very slight, you might be able to just continue on with your new yarn; with little to no change in the appearance of your project. You can also pull out a couple of rows of your project and alternate between both of your yarns for the remaining rows of your project. Unless your contrast is more than just slight, this alternation should trick the eyes into seeing it as only one color.
However, if your contrast is… not-so-slight, then you need to like the way that the two colors look together. If, when you made your gauge swatch, you liked the way they looked together, then it’s time to choose how to incorporate the new color into your project. If you’re finishing off an afghan or a doily (i.e., something that is simply a square, rectangle, or a circle), then stripes are your safest bet. There’s a good chance that the added yarn will create a greater depth to your color design; which is always a bonus.
Clothing, or anything that is composed of separate pieces that will be joined together, requires a little bit more of creative thought. One great idea is to use the new yarn as your borders for the individual pieces AND to connect them; thereby using the contrast to greater advantage for your overall piece.
Using A Different Color
Now, if you didn’t like how the two yarns looked together when you made your gauge swatch, then you might want to consider buying another color to use instead. Be sure to check your stash for great ideas first. You never know when you might have the perfect solution tucked away there. I would suggest picking one that you know works as a great contrast with your current color. Plus, make sure that it’s a color you already know you love. This is your project after all; have FUN with it!
Some examples of good contrasts would be yellow, orange, or even white for blue yarns; a light pink for forest green, and vice versa; and blue or green for red. Make sure to pay attention to color shades and values, as those can affect how well two colors can contrast. When shopping for a new color, it would be a good idea to bring along a piece of the yarn that you’re currently working with. In order to ensure that it will work before you buy it.
Remember: Mistakes are bound to happen. But rather than let them hold us back, we should use them to spur ourselves on to even greater accomplishments. After all, it is often our blunders that teach us the most. As one of my favorite movie quotes goes:
“From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success.”
Why Can’t I Find My Dye Lot Number?!?!
You just realized that you don’t have enough yarn for your project. The panic starts to set in… But wait! You’ve saved your yarn label, so you know what company you purchased your yarn from. There’s just one problem. You can’t find your dye lot number. ANYWHERE.
I have definitely been there – desperately searching your yarn label for a dye lot number. Only to discover that it doesn’t have one. It may seem hard to believe, but this can actually be a good sign. You’ve heard of blessings in disguise? This might just be yours.
No Dye Lot
Now, before I get your hopes too high, you might want to check your label one last time. Some companies seem to “hide” their dye lots in inconspicuous places, making it very hard to find.
Time to get excited! You’ve checked your label one last time (right?) and there is definitely no dye lot number. Instead, there should be the phrase “No Dye Lot.” Which means that, as long as you know the brand, weight, and color of your yarn, you can now go ahead and buy as much as you please. Worry-free.
How is that? Well, whereas some yarns (most of them, actually) are dyed in large batches, thus necessitating the use of dye lots, other yarns are spun from fiber that is already colored ahead of time. Thereby eliminating the need for dye lots for those yarns.
Why Dye Lots Are Predominate
This begs the question: Why can’t every yarn be spun from pre-colored fiber? Unfortunately, most yarns work best in the dye lot batches. Acrylic seems to be the only yarn that is made without dye lots.
CAUTION: It is still a good idea to buy extra yarn for your project, even if it doesn’t have a dye lot. There are some companies who sell “No Dye Lot” yarn who don’t have many favorable reviews to support that claim. So, always be cautious, and always buy extra.
Hope that helps!!
Until next time… Happy DIYing!!
Please let me know what you think in the comments below! I will answer any questions as quickly as I can.