IKAT is a Indonesian method for hand dyed yarn using a resist dyeing technique for a woven fabric. Here at Swans Island we’re releasing a limited edition IKAT hand woven wrap that we’ll be debuting soon, and also skeins of the IKAT Indigo hand dyed yarn for hand knitters. For both the wraps and the hand dyed yarn we’ve used Indigo to hand dye the yarn. Today we’re taking you through the process of creating these beautiful unique skeins of hand dyed yarn.

First, the 100 merino wool skeins are tied with cord. The portions of yarn underneath the cord will not be dyed.

Swans Island IKAT Yarn

It takes a while, but once we have enough skeins tied with cord, it’s time to dye!

Hand Dyed Yarn from Swans Island in the IKAT tradition of Hand Dyeing

Then, it’s time to put the skeins into the dye pot full of indigo.

Hand dyed Yarn from Swans Island going into dye bath 
100 Wool Yarn in the dye pot. Because the yarn is hand dyed with indigo, a pigment not a dye, you may experience crocking (when excess dye rubs off of one dry fabric onto another dry fabric) while knitting with the IKAT yarn. It will not, however, bleed into the white or fade. On a molecular level, indigo imparts its color onto whatever you are dyeing by means of tiny molecules of indigo pigment adhering to the fibers.  When the fibers are rinsed and dried, the molecules of indigo expand to fit the spaces between fibers.  Sometimes, if the molecules are especially tiny, or the fibers are especially fine, (like the merino used in IKAT) the loose indigo molecules can slough off with friction.  You will see this as your bamboo needles turn blue, or a blue line across the finger you carry your working yarn with.

Hand dyed yarn blooming in indigo 100 merino

What should you do if your hand dyed yarn is crocking?  Well, first know that it will wash off your hands easily with soap and water after your knitting sessions.  When you have finished your project, give it a wash in warm soapy water.  The water will likely turn blue, as the loose molecules are rinsed off.  Simply rinse until the water is clear, and your project should remain stable for its lifetime.
100 organic merino hand dyed IKAT yarn from Swans Island

hand dyed 100 merino wool, IKAT dyes Swans Island

A finished skein of hand dyed IKAT yarn!

hand dyed yarn from Swans Island in 100% organic merino wool