To Reskein or Not?

It is no secret that I can be rather strident in my opinions. Neither have I kept hidden my forceful opinion that multi-colored yarn ought to be reskeined before it is sold – resulting in the engineering masterpiece you saw yesterday.

However, I have been gaining ambivalence on the subject as of late. While I still think there are more advantages to purchasing a skein that has been reskeined, there are a few compelling reasons that you might want to see a yarn as it was originally dyed.

The main reason is color repeats, by which I mean how quickly the yarn changes color. The length of a yarn’s color repeats makes a big difference in how the yarn is going to knit up. Socks are a fairly consistent circumference, so with a bit of experience and observation, you can figure out eventually how a certain yarn is going to knit up.

For example, I know that because my sock yarn skeins are a little less than four feet in circumference when dyed, one four-foot trip around that dye loop will take a bit less than two rounds on a typical sock. This means that when a yarn has the longest possible color repeats, like this batch of Black Bean Blue, the finished socks will have about one round of light blue and about one round of dark blue, give or take a few stitches.

Can you tell this from the re-skeined skein? Not easily. If you don’t like that look, which I think is called “flashing,” you will be unpleasantly surprised. Personally I think it’s kinda cool – imagine pairing that with a slip-stitch pattern! But wouldn’t you want to know?

You can use the same logic on the Pokeberry blend skeins below (and the Black Walnut Brown is the same): With two similar dark ends and a light middle, since one trip around the loop = ~two rounds, the darks and lights will touch each other on each round. This is called “pooling” – In the case of my yarn, it means the darks and lights will reliably spiral around the leg in a fetching fashion – but again, some people can’t stand that.

And can you tell the lengths of the color repeats by looking at the reskeined skein? Not without very careful study.

If you are aiming for a true blend of colors, you want short repeats. This is what I was aiming for with the latest batch of Baby Boy Peter:

Thankfully, this is the easiest to see when it’s been reskeined, and the yarn looks ugliest if you don’t.

See what I mean? You can kinda tell in this reskeined hank that the colors are going to blend more, whereas in the other hanks it was unclear.

There are other advantages to not reskeining – certain techniques require you to know whether the two sides of a hank mirror each other (Mine almost always do). And, of course, it saves a lot of work for the dyer, sometimes meaning they can charge less.

But that doesn’t change a couple key things for me. As you can see with “Crazy Crayons” from yesterday’s post, particularly in the case of wild multi-colored skeins, you really have no idea how the colors will balance until you see them mixed together. You might be drawn to a particular accent shade that almost disappears when it’s reskeined, or the hank might be overwhelmed by a color you didn’t notice was dominant. In other words, you can figure it out, but only if you really know your stuff, which most people don’t think they should have to. In addition to all that, my skeins often look pretty battered after they’ve been through the dye process, and reskeining lets me pretty them up again.

So I don’t know. Either way, I will now always be posting a picture of the un-reskeined yarn whenever I list a new skein. That doesn’t help folks who buy in person, but you can’t have everything.

What do you think? Do you care? Do you find my new box of gems more enticing before reskeining:

or after?

(p.s. If you’re just tuning in to today’s broadcast, you can purchase any of these yarns by scrolling down to posts from earlier this week, or clicking these links:

7 thoughts on “To Reskein or Not?

  1. I like the yarn reskeined. However, I would find the description that you gave about the length of various color lengths to be help. So maybe you could include that type of information in your listing details. BTW I really love the look of the Baby Boy Peter.


  2. I think that the yarn definitely looks better reskeined. However, I do see your point about the length of color repeats. So — surely you should include pictures of your yarns both ways for your online buyers. And you might even want to measure the color repeats and include them in your listing info (or at least say that they are short, medium, or long). But for your in-person buyers, hmmmm. Maybe your next business goal should be designing/making wraps for your skeins, on which you include the same info that you put online, including a picture of the yard before reskeining!


  3. I think they look nicer after the reskeined process. I love, love, love the pokeberry yarn!! They new crazy crayon colour is pretty cool too. I am a little unclear about the striping thing, but I have never done a sock πŸ˜‰ Will the crayon one strip nicely? Or would the poke berry be nicer? Would I need two skeins to make a pair of socks? just wondering.
    keep up the great work. If you ever need help dyeing or reskeining… spelling?… let me know!


  4. Thanks for the input πŸ™‚ My labels are already so loaded down! But at least I have an online solution.

    One skein will make a quite sizeable pair of socks!

    I haven’t knit with the crayon on yet, but I expect that the blue and red will stack on each other, and the yellow-green will stack on each other together, and those two pairs will spiral up the leg. That is my most edumicated guess πŸ™‚ At the least it will be crazy!


  5. OK, I guess I’m the only one who likes the yarns slightly better BEFORE reskeining. They look more “yummy” that way, and yes, you can see better what you’re buying. To me, seeing how the yarn knits up is the whole point of swatching, which is something I love to do.
    However, now that I am a yarn dyer, I agree with the whole “prettying up the yarn” thing. The yarn strands tend to stick together a bit during the dye process (at least for me) and it IS nice to unstick them and see how it looks with the colors mixed. Since I dye such large hanks that need to be re-skeined into 5 smaller ones for sale, I have to do it no matter what……


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