I've never used hand-dyed yarn before. What do I need to know? The most important thing to remember is that hand-dyed yarn is like anything handmade--each skein will be a little bit different even within the same dye batch. If you are making something that takes more than one skein and you want your project to have a more homogeneous look, it's a good idea to switch skeins every few rows so the differences are very gradual.
Also, your yarn will come as a hank, which is basically a big loop. That's the best way to store it until you're ready to use it, but it needs to be turned into a ball before you start using it. There's more about how to do that (or have me do it for you) below.
What is the difference between sock-weight yarn and fingering-weight yarn? The basic answer is that there isn't any difference. Depending on where you live, that weight of yarn may be called sock-weight yarn, fingering-weight yarn, or 4-ply yarn regardless of the number of actual plies. Here in The United States, a lot of people refer to yarn with nylon as sock yarn and yarn without nylon as fingering-weight yarn.
I have opted to call all yarn of that weight sock-weight yarn regardless of whether it is good for actual socks or not. That's because it's the term most widely used around the world. If you are looking for yarn to knit actual socks, I recommend using either my Sock Perfection base for "everyday" socks. For super special socks, I recommend using either my Cashmere Sock base or So Silky Sock. So Silky Sock does not have nylon, but silk is every bit as strong as nylon if not stronger.
Any of my yarn bases will work beautifully for shawls, hats, sweaters, and more.
I'm getting my first skein of handspun yarn from you. What do I need to know about using handspun yarn? Like hand-dyed yarn but even more so, every skein of handspun yarn will be unique. In addition to everything I mentioned above, I recommend going up a needle size or two when you are knitting with handspun to give it space to "breathe." I find it looks better that way. If you are crocheting with handspun, just be aware that it can be a little tricky to locate the right hole to crochet into with very thick and thin handspun yarn. If you are weaving with it, I recommend using all my handspun for weft. I make strong handspun yarn, but I suggest using 2-ply or Navajo-plied yarn for warp just because of the additional strength each ply adds.
Tell me about your studio. My studio is smoke-free but dog-friendly. Our dog, Pfifltrigg, is not at all interested in the fiber or yarn, but it is always possible for a stray dog hair to get into the yarn or fiber.
Tell me about the wool you use. All of our wool comes from flocks where mulesing is NOT practiced. Where possible, I use organic wool. Our teeswater and kid mohair locks come from small flocks in The United States and Canada that are well cared for and well loved.
What kind of dyes do you use? I use professional-quality acid dyes. The term acid sounds a little scary, but all it means is that citric acid is used to make the dye bath a little acidic to make the dye permanent. I make sure to exhaust the dye, which means that it will be stably fixed to the yarn and won't go down the drain. I wash all my yarn and fiber using Dawn detergent after I dye it and hang it to dry.
Will my yarn bleed? The short answer is I do everything I can to ensure that it won't. I wash and rinse my yarn thoroughly, and I am not satisfied unless the water runs clear. That said, acid dyes are colorfast in cold water, but hot water could cause the yarn to bleed a bit. Also, different chemicals and pH of your water compared with mine could possibly cause a bit of bleeding. Because of that, it's always a good idea to wash dark colors separately the first time around. If your yarn does bleed, please contact me so I can help you with it.
Do you weight your handspun yarn to set it? No! This is a bit of a pet-peeve for me. Many spinners weight their yarn to remove extra twist after washing it. The trouble is that it may look balanced, but as soon as someone knits with it and then washes it, that extra twist will come right back. Now, a singles yarn will never be perfectly balanced because it has only been twisted in one direction, but if it has been spun well, there won't be a lot of extra twist unless it's intentional for a particular reason. A plied yarn should normally be balanced and should not need weighting to make it look balanced. If you are buying handspun elsewhere, it's worth asking if the yarn has been weighted so you'll know what to expect when you knit with it. I'm stepping down off my soapbox now. :-)
How long will it take you to ship my yarn or fiber, and how do you ship? All the items in my shop are in stock and ready to ship unless otherwise noted, and I usually ship the next business day or even the same day if you place your order early in the morning. I ship using USPS, though I reserve the option to ship via UPS or FedEx if it makes sense to do so. Packages that weigh less than one pound will be shipped via first-class mail unless otherwise requested, and packages weighing more than one pound will be shipped via priority mail. You will receive the tracking number by email.
What kind of packaging do you use? I ship your yarn and fiber in boxes made in the USA. I use recycled boxes when I can get them. Inside the box, your yarn or hand-dyed top will be wrapped in tissue paper, and your art batts will be inside a reusable organza bag that keeps it free of dust until you are ready to use it.
Do you gift wrap? Yes and no. My goal is to make each package worthy of being a gift from me to you or your loved ones. Your yarn and fiber will come carefully packaged in a box with tissue paper, but I don't offer gift wrapping per se. Each order comes with an optional lavender felt ball or rosemary sprig as my gift to you. If you are purchasing yarn as a gift and would like me to include a note from you, I would be happy to do so. Just let me know in the note to seller when you check out.
Do you ship internationally? Yes, I do so regularly. In fact, I have sent my yarn and fiber to every continent except for Antarctica! Know any yarn-loving scientists in Antarctica?
I live outside The United States. If there are customs fees or tariffs associated with my package, who is responsible for paying them? Each country has its own laws in this regard. The person receiving the package (aka the customer) is responsible for paying all customs and tariffs.
What are these lavender felt balls and rosemary sprigs you mention? With each order, I will happily include either a lavender felt ball or a fresh rosemary sprig. The rosemary sprig will be cut from my organic garden, and the lavender felt ball is a 1-inch felt ball that I have infused with lavender essential oil. Both of these are natural moth deterrents. If you would like me to include one, please mention which one you would like in the note to seller when you check out. I will only include it if you ask because some people are sensitive to smells. FYI, I do not store either of these with my yarn or fiber for the same reason.
What form will the yarn be in when I receive it? Your yarn will come as a hank. A hank is basically just a big loop of yarn. You cannot knit or weave or crochet from a hank. You have to ball it first, or you will end up with a tangled mess. The most efficient way to turn a hank into a ball is with a swift and a ball winder. However, if you don't have these, that's okay. You can put two dining chairs back to back and put the loop of yarn over the two. Then find the ties and the ends, cut them, and ball the yarn.
If you plan to store the yarn for awhile before using it, it's best for the yarn to leave it in hank form. If you don't have a swift and you plan to use the yarn within a month or so, I would be happy to ball or cake your yarn for you. Just let me know in the note to seller when you check out.
How should I care for my yarn? Each skein of yarn comes with instructions for its care, but here is a basic rundown:
If it is made of mostly superwash wool, you can wash it in your washing machine on cold and lay it flat to dry. However, if you want it to last for years and years, I recommend washing it by hand if that is practical for you.
If it is a handspun yarn or any other yarn that is not superwash, you should wash it by hand and lay it flat to dry.
If you are washing by hand, feel free to use your favorite wool wash, but I personally just use a bit of original Dawn detergent. It's easy to get, effective, and economical. As I mentioned above, that is what I use to wash all my yarn and fiber when I dye it too.
Keep in mind that wool is naturally antimicrobial, so it won't necessarily need to be washed each time it is used.
Where do you get your inspiration? From so many places, but I get most of my inspiration from literature, art, music, and nature.
Do you wholesale? Yes, I do wholesale to yarn shops in The United States. If you own a yarn shop and are interested in opening a wholesale account with Purple Lamb, contact me here. Let me know a bit about your shop, and I will get back to you with more information. I'm pretty easy to work with. ;-)
I am a weaver. Which of your yarn bases are good for weaving? I'm a weaver too. As you know, pretty much anything can be used for weft. For warp, I recommend using Buttery Soft DK, Squoosh DK, So Silky Sock, and Sock Perfection. While I have used Sparkly Merino Sock for warp, I have had individual strands break under tension now and then.
I have another question for you. Feel free to contact me using the contact form here. You can expect a response within about a day.