We know that superwash treated wool and non superwash treated wool accept dye differently. The superwash treatment process results in wool that does not shrink when washed, and as a bonus, it also provides additional dye sites on the fiber itself resulting in a stronger depth of color in comparison to the non-treated wool.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are a two examples that show the difference in dye strikes between yarns with different fiber content.
From left to right: 100% Superwash treated Merino (La Grande) 75% Superwash Treated Merino/15% nylon/10% Tencel (Umpqua) 50% Superwash Merino/50% Tencel (Crystal Creek) all dyed in the same dye pot.
We leveled the playing field by comparing yarns that all had superwash merino as one component. But what happens when we add cellulose fibers, in this case Tencel, to the wool yarn blend?
All the yarns in the above photo (La Grande, Umpqua and Crystal Creek) were dyed with acid dyes. Acid dyes are used to dye protein based fibers such as wool, mohair, silk and alpaca. They do not dye cellulose fibers. As you can see from the image, the cellulose fibers do not take the dye but rather reflect the light giving the yarn an incredible sheen.
At this time Ashland Bay carries two yarns that are blended with Tencel: Crystal Creek and Umpqua. Each yarn base has a different percentage of Tencel. Tencel adds incredible shine and drape to the yarns. To visually demonstrate how the combination of superwash wool blended with Tencel affects the dye strike, I took a pair of skeins, one Crystal Creek and one Umpqua, and dyed them in the same dye pot.
In the image above, within each set of colors, the Crystal Creek (50% Tencel) is on the left and the Umpqua (15% Tencel) is on the right.
As you can see from both examples, when the percentage of supewash wool in the yarn decreases, the depth of shade also decreases. But as the percentage of Tencel increases, the luster level increases. Less color, more shine! The intensity of color and reflective sheen is proportional to the respective percentages in the yarn blend.
I encourage you to experiment with different fiber blend yarns and you will realize the endless possibilities for creative adventures. Not sure which fiber blend to try next? Give us a call!