If you’re a knitter, you’ve experienced the thrill of buying a new skein of yarn. It goes something like this: you lock eyes with it, feel a jolt of pleasure when the colours just sing to you, and then you proceed to hold it in your hands, squishing and smelling it shamelessly (if in the yarn shop – you’re among your kind, after all) or, if in front of a computer screen, drooling over your keyboard as you enlarge the photo; finally, you have that excruciating mental chat with yourself, “How can I justify bringing this home? Can I afford it? Do I need to hide it from my other half? Can I just pretend this cost half of what it really does? I don’t have a problem, I can stop whenever I can.”
If this sounds familiar, welcome to the club. It’s the bitter-sweet process of yarn stalking.
As a new seller of hand dyed yarn (here’s an example), I want to present my fibre in the best way possible. I want you to feel like you can’t live without that skein, that you need to take it home so you can look at it and call it Precious – not because I want to manipulate you, honest, but because I’m just so in love with my yarns I want to spread the joy (of course the revenue doesn’t hurt, either).
It’s no surprise then, that I started to think about the best ways to showcase my fibre. What’s the best way to show you the colours, the prettiness of it all? Enter some photographic and reskeining experimentation.
This first image shows you the yarn as it came out of the pot. All the colours are clumped together and you can see how much there is of each. It might help you plan for a project, and will certainly help you discern if you like the palette I chose.
Then I reskeined the yarn, thereby changing the colour placement. The big clumps of colour are gone, but now you can better see how they interact with each other. The overall feel is quite different, and I can honestly say I might not realise this was the same skein if I got shown one of each side by side.
I really thought I’d have a clear winner. Nope. On Facebook, I had an absolute tie – 50% preferred one way, 50% the other. Some people even engaged in friendly banter, telling them how wrong they were to choose differently from them. On Instagram the opinions were also more or less equally divided, with one professional dyer saying that her sales soared when she stopped reskeining. Argh.
Of course, this didn’t stop here – some people asked me how it would knit up (a very reasonable question, but when it’s a one-of-a-kind skein, it’s hard to test knit because I’d have to handle the fibre too much to feel comfortable selling it later). One person even asked how it would look caked up and ready for knitting…
I then decided to go mad, keep this skein for myself and see how it would look made into something. All in the name of science, of course. Here it is caked up – also visually different from the pictures above.
I knitted a cowl with a pattern that would allow me to see how the colours went together without being too boring (I love you stockinette, but sometimes I need something different). Here’s the reverse pattern, where you can definitely see a colour repetition going on. I like how the darkest colour seems to pop up with a rhythm.
And here’s the right side. Here I feel the colours sing without being too jumbled. Notice how even the dark colour doesn’t pop as much (in my opinion).
This pattern is called Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks and is free on Ravelry.
So I guess the answer is, there is no right answer to this question. To reskein or not to reskein, that is the headache.
Here comes the obligatory question: which one would you choose?