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Ask Amanda: What’s a dye lot?

Dye Lot

Back when I was still a new knitter, I came across a gorgeous hank of alpaca in a really pretty color. I knew it would make a beautiful sweater, but there was only one hank of the color I liked on the yarn shop’s shelf. When I took it up to the counter to ask if there were any more hanks hiding somewhere in storage, it turned out to be the last one. Luckily, the shop owner offered to order another bag of that color for me. I happily placed the order, but I couldn’t wait to start knitting with that yarn, so I decided to buy the single hank and start swatching right away. Of course, the shop owner pointed out that the dye lot of the new yarn probably wouldn’t match the dye lot of the single hank, but I didn’t think much of it.

I can get a little impatient when it comes to starting a new project, so I ended up casting on for a sweater and worked my way through that first hank by the time my new yarn arrived. I brought the new yarn home and guess what? Yep, the dye lots were noticeably different. I ended up having to rip out and start over. Lesson learned!

On a Berroco yarn label, you’ll always see the dye lot number printed next to the color number. Balls of yarn with the same dye lot number were dyed together at the same time, so the color will be an exact match. While professional dyers are very precise and methodical, small fluctuations in color can still occur between dye lots. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to see (which was the case with my alpaca yarn) but other times it’s a very subtle difference, or may not be noticeable at all.

When buying yarn it’s a good idea to check and make sure that all the skeins you’re buying are from the same dye lot. In a perfect world, we would always have enough of a yarn in whatever dye lot we wanted, though sometimes that just isn’t possible and we have to make do with what’s available. If you’re using two different dye lots in the same project, try alternating between the two dye lots every few rows. By mixing them together, the color difference will be less noticeable.

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