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Yarn/dyeing: Step one

Meet Noreen, our production manager. In the photo above, she’s skeining Chickadee in preparation for dyeing–(oh so soon, now). Most commercial yarns are package- dyed on the cone. The dye solution is forced through the wound yarn, a procedure that changes the nature of the goods. Not so at Saco River Dyehouse. We’ll be skein dyeing, a process especially suited for hand-knitting yarns. Dipping skeins in a dye bath opens and ‘blooms’ the yarn, the better to preserve its soft hand and loft. Skein dyeing is labor intensive, but the results are so worth it.

Note the skeining machine. Yarn from the spinning mill is shipped to the dyehouse on cones. The yarn ends from the cones on the left are threaded through the overhead frames, then directed down and then fastened to the revolving skeining machine on the right. The arms on the skeining machine are opened and set to a given diameter. The machine spins around a specific number of times, depending on the weight of the skein we’re making. For thinner yarns, it goes around more times than it does for thicker yarns–more yards per skein means more resolutions. Cool, no?

When the machine stops, Noreen ties off each skein in three places to hold the strands together through the dye process. One tie, even two, sometimes, and you have a tangled mess at the end. Noreen holds a pair of clippers (orange handles) to snip the ends of the ties.

Thus is the yarn readied for dyeing.




11 Responses to “Yarn/dyeing: Step one”

  1. Miwako says:

    It looks very exciting.. : ) I fell in love with your chickadee! Are the colors going to stay the same?

  2. what a great post! love reading about this process. chickadee is such a fantastic yarn to work with, too.

    please keep us posted on the progress.

  3. Marisa says:

    OOh so cool! Thanks for showing/sharing these snippets of yarn mfg. It is nice to see that each skein sees a human hand! Love Quince & Co. yarn!!!

  4. Pam says:

    I love your blog! I love your products!

    I have followed you from the beginning and this latest on your Dyehouse is absolutely THE BEST!!

  5. Sara says:

    OMG! I am so excited for you guys…and all of us knitters out here waiting patiently. My LYS is supposed to start carrying your yarn, I am absolutely thrilled to learn about your dye house that will make it all possible so much sooner!

  6. Leah says:

    I soo appreciate that you don’t cut corners in the dyeing process! That is one of many aspects that makes Quince and Co. a high quality operation from start to finish.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Hmm, this explains the little ties around the yarn. I wondered when they were added and now I know.

  8. Janine says:

    Interesting post! I was just commenting to a friend this week about how much I enjoy this blog because you let us peek into the world of yarn production.

    I think you mean “revolutions” rather than “resolutions” though. :-)

  9. I wondered why your yarns were so soft and plump. I can’t wait for you guys to have everything up and stocked again! Quince is my favorite yarn – in all the weights.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the ins and outs of your shop and process. Makes me really appreciate Q&Co. that much more knowing just how much “personal love” really does go into the final product. You have me hooked :)

  11. Rudi O says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the dye house closing. I love the look into the yarn production process!!!

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