Yarn Dyeing Techniques

When talking about yarn, a lot of terms are used interchangeably which may cause some confusion for new knitters and crocheters.  I’m sure I’m guilty of this.  So to dispel any questions regarding how to describe yarn and the colors therein, I’m going to talk about some yarn dyeing techniques (and terms) today. 

Before we start, please be forewarned that I am not a dyer or an expert in yarn.  I merely love yarn – and playing with it.


This is the closest thing you can come to a solid color (which is self-explanatory).  There are slight variances in color, which creates a nice depth to your finished knitted fabric, as it were.  I think of this as adding lowlights to hair color – you’re giving the color some depth.



Tonals have a bit more color than semi-solid.  These bring in a slighter bigger variance of color – think high and lowlights in your hair.  A blond may have some brown and red mixed in there, but in a subtle way.



Now we’re getting into some of my favorites!!  Here we have many colors mixed together on a solid base.  There is a lot of variation in these colors, hence the name, and they are often randomly dyed.  

Hedgehog socks


Variegated is Hedgehog Fibers, that now hugely popular Irish dyer.  


Speckles!  I love speckled yarn but it’s not for everyone.  This yarn has a variety of colors in it – pops of color! – that make it vibrant and fun.   This yarn seriously makes me happy!  

Chief Left Hand Knits


Oh my goodness!  A dye technique that has stolen my heart!  Self-striping yarn is a joy to work with.  You can knit a vanilla pattern and have a pair of socks that look like a work of art.  

Must Stash Sesame Socks

The dyers who make this yarn must have a lot of patience!

In Closing

I hope this helps to clarify the various yarn dyeing terms used by me, dyers, and knitters.  No matter what type of colorwork you like in your yarn, there is a lot to love and tons of options.  Everyone prefers something different and some dyers specialize in certain techniques.  And it’s all so beautiful!

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