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Lots and Lots of Dye Lots


Lose Dry Pigments in India Photo: Dan Brady

A Dye Lot is a batch of yarn that was dyed together at the same time under the same conditions. A dye lot generally has very little variation in the colors, for large single color projects having a single dye lot can make or break you project. All the yarn from a dye lot will have the same dye lot number on the label, but different brands use different numbers.

About Dyes

Dying fiber is rather like baking, while you have the same recipe, no two cakes will be the same unless you’ve made them and baked them in the same batch, oven, at the exact same time. The temperature of the air outside, the elevation, and efficiency of the oven, all need to be consistent to get the same baked good or the same dye lot.

Hand painted Knitting Yarns: HPKY Scarf in a Scarf Kit: The Colorway of this kit is titled Rigoletto

The shade of the yarn when dyeing is affected by temperature and time in the dye bath, as well as the chemicals, both natural and artificial, moisture, saturation of color, yarn makeup and handling.

Yarns of a single dye lot are usually given a single name for the color but sometimes the color name may be applied to multiple dye lots of the same general color. The color-scheme of a yarn is sometimes called a colorway when there are 2 or more colors such as variegated or ombre.


Why should you person who doesn’t dye but knits or crochets care? Because the use of different dye lots can mar the look of your handmade items. Imagine a sweater that awkwardly changes colors halfway through only one sleeve. Sometime you can’t see the differences between dye lots when in the store or under artificial lights, but when under natural light or with flash photography, the different colors can become apparent.

The changes in any way or step of dyeing can create drastically different colors to the human eye or can change color fastness allowing for different rates of fading.

Malabrigo Mecha Bulky Yarn

If you know you’re going to be working a large project, over buy and get an extra skein. There is no such thing as too much yarn in your stash, and you can always make a hat with the extra or gift/trade a skein with a friend who knits or crochets.

Bring your pattern with you when you shop- most published commercial patterns have the estimated yardage needed for the project. If you forget to check your pattern or you neglect to check the dye lot, or there is not enough of the same dye lot for sale there are a few different ways to work around the Dye Lot Dilemma!

Dyes lot cannot be matched exactly after the fact. Depending on demand a warehouse can sell out of a dye lot in less than a week, particularly in small batch yarns, so don’t expect to be able to come back and buy more. If you’re not sure you’ll have enough, buy one extra.


Before you leave the store, check and make sure the lots are the same. Just because the yarn is on the same shelf, doesn’t mean all the skeins are from the same dye lot. When we ship yarn, we manually check the to see if the dye lots match, if they don’t we’ll give you a call and see what you’d like to do. 

Always feel free to ask us, but generally speaking if you don’t see a color on the website we probably don’t have it anymore.



Some good things to know about Hand painted yarn and Kettle dyed…

Dream in Color Smooshy Handpainted Sock Yarn

Hand painted yarns are always going to have variations that are uncontrolled, as with any handmade item no two pieces are exactly the same. While yarn can have the same colorway it will not be exactly the same nor will the shifts in color be in the exact same location. There are a few different tricks when working large projects with hand painted yarns can create a more consistent look for your piece.

Kettle dyeing or small batch dyeing is where concentrated dye mix is added to the dye bath and the absorption of dye into the yarn is therefore not always even. Even when working with a single color dye can pool creating a concentration of dye leading to a slight to drastic ombre affect. Small batches of dyed yarn are going to have an even greater variation between colors and even skeins in the same batch.

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