Tips for working with O-Wool


Alternate skeins while knitting

O-Wool is produced in small batches. This can give your yarn a tonal, hand-dyed effect (that I love!). Some yarns and colors will dye more solid, while others will show more variation. I highly recommend alternating skeins while knitting to achieve an overall blended effect, even if your skeins appear solid.

Never alternated skeins before? For the sake of successful knitting with *any* tonal or hand-dyed yarn, now is the time to learn! And, guess what? If you can alternate skeins, you can also knit one- or two-row stripes - it's the same technique, just with two different colored yarns instead of two that are the same.

How to alternate skeins:

You will work with two balls of yarn at one time (don’t worry - it’s easy!).

Knitting flat:

Work two rows (back and forth) from skein one, then switch to skein two and work two more rows. Keep your yarn attached and simply carry it up the side of your work. When you drop one strand and pick up the other, always do so in the same pattern so the edge is consistent (i.e. pick up the new strand in front of the old strand).
If there is a larger color discrepancy between skeins you may choose to alternate every row (instead of every two). Even though you are knitting flat, you will use a circular needle. With the right side of your work facing, work one row with your first skein. Don’t turn your work. With the right side still facing, add in your second skein and work another row. Slide your work to the left end of the needle and turn your work. Work a row with skein one, then work a row with skein two and wrong-side still facing. Continue in this manner.  This one-row method is great for simple stitches like Stockinette or Garter, but I don’t recommend it for more complicated stitches.

Knitting circularly:

Work your cast-on and first row with one skein, then switch to the other skein and work one round. You can alternate every round when knitting circularly. In the round you can work one round of each skein.


Washing O-Wool

If you have a reliable delicate cycle on your washing machine, you are in business! Washing hand-knits in the machine is my preferred method. I find that it evens out all of my uneven stitches and gives the yarn the tiniest of soft halos. I do it for *all* of the O-Wool yarns, but, if it makes you nervous, stick with hand-washing the 100% animal fiber yarns and try the machine-wash method for Balance or Balance Bulky (the 50% cotton 50% wool blend).

When I've completed my project and woven in all of my ends, I place my project in a lingerie bag or pillowcase - something to protect it a little bit. I use cold water (ideally tap cold - some machines have that option now) and a gentle detergent. My favorite detergent is Soak Wash, but I also love using Dreft which is a baby detergent you can find in most stores. I use the delicate wash cycle on the machine, and, if you have the option, a low spin setting (if you don't, that's ok - I didn't for years). Sometimes I will let the item soak for a bit before starting the cycle - this is especially good on cone yarns, or something that needs a little extra washing. When the machine completes its cycle, carefully remove the item from the machine taking care to not stretch it out. I typically lay a towel or two down on the floor in a room with little traffic and carefully spread the item out and block it to shape. If I want it to dry faster, I'll put a fan on it on low.


Using dark/saturated colors alongside light/undyed colors

If you are using a combination of very deep/saturated colors with very light colors you will want to be mindful of color-bleeding during washing/blocking. This is not a product of poor dyeing - this is simply the nature of dye chemistry. While most of the molecules of the dark/saturated dye are bonded to the fiber, some may just be "attracted" to it but not bonded. So when placed next to yarn that has many open spaces for bonding (light/undyed color), those molecules will choose the less-populated area.


I do not endorse using very saturated reds or blues next to an undyed/natural color. Red and blues are very rich colors and the likelihood they will bleed onto your light color and make you unhappy is high. If this is integral to the design of your knitted piece, I recommend pre-washing your dark/saturated skein. Add about 3-4 additional figure-eight ties to your skein and then hand wash as you would wash your finished piece, until the water runs clear. This may take many rinses. Lay your skein flat or hang to dry. Again, I only recommend pre-washing for situations where a very dark/saturated color will be used next to a very light/undyed color.


If you are concerned about bleeding, I often recommend knitting a small swatch with stripes of the colors you plan to use together and washing/blocking them as you plan to with your finished piece. It is possible that dye from the deep color will come off into the water, and this doesn't necessarily mean it will bleed. Rinse and change out the water frequently if this occurs and you will likely be OK. If the deep colors bleeds onto the light, consider pre-washing that skein and then re-swatching with your pre-washed skein.