Monday, January 22, 2018

Where to Buy Bare Yarns (Undyed Yarns)

Where do you buy your bare yarns to dye?  I have an old blog post on this topic but it hasn't been updated in a long time.  I've dyed a lot more yarn now than I have back then so I know more about what I want as a home dyer.  It also seems like I can find a lot more suppliers than I could find easily back in 2010.  Not to mention that some of the websites that I originally linked to are no longer active.  Let's see where we can find bare yarns now!

There are many MANY websites that offer bare yarns for sale.  I know that I am only scratching the surface in this post.  However, I wanted to assemble a list of some of the companies that have the most name recognition in addition to some smaller players.  If I left your favorite supplier off this list, please let me know in the comments!

  • KnitPicks - Most of the yarn I've dyed over the last 9 years has been KnitPicks bare yarns, and I feature these yarns regularly on my YouTube channel.  You can buy 20 packs of bare yarn at a bulk discount, but since you can buy individual skeins you can try the yarn before committing to a large volume.  The prices are also very competitive, too.  When I started my dyeing adventures, I was intimidated by the need to purchase 1 kg or more of bare yarns at a time, so the ability to purchase individual skeins really drew me in.  Plus there is free shipping over $50, and I never have trouble adding that much yarn to my cart!  (Full Disclosure, I became a KnitPicks Affiliate in October 2017, but I have been using these yarns for YEARS before I started officially promoting them.)
  • Wool2Dye4 - This is a dyer's haven with dozens of different yarn weights, fiber contents, and more available.  They only occasionally have single skeins of yarn available, usually you purchase their yarns in 10 skein packages. They offer wholesale discounts if you make a purchase over a certain weight of yarn.  Under their Kits section, you can sometimes find samplers of 3 of their yarns in a given weight.  I purchased the sock sampler once but I've still only dyed with one of the skeins. (I really need to get on that! I've been saving the cashmere blend for something special.) Shiela's Sock yarn took dye BEAUTIFULLY and is something that I would enjoy working with again.  They have some mini skein packs available which is great if you want to dye coordinating 20 g miniskeins without having to wind them yourself.
  • Craftsy - I had no idea that Craftsy sold yarn in addition to crafting classes until one of my followers mentioned it last fall.  can purchase Cloudborn Yarn Dyeables in sets of 10 skeins (50 or 100g).  The skeins range from fingering to bulky in a variety of fiber contents.  All but one are superwash and the sock yarns are both 20% nylon.  I have not tried any of these yarns but the natural colors vary from pale tan/grey to off white.  (Note, I became a Craftsy Affiliate in January 2018.) 
  • Dyer Supplier by KnitCrate - Well this just sounds like a good place for an indie dyer to look, now doesn't it?  I've heard a lot about Knit Crate recently although I have never purchased anything from them.  The site looks like it is set up to offer a wide range of fiber types and weights, but when I checked in January 2018 many of the categories were empty.  They do offer a range between 10 skein packs of yarn, mini-skein packs, and they even offer some single skein samples so you can try out a yarn base before committing to 10 skeins.  Dyer Supplier offers bulk discounts, so if you're going to get multiple 10 skein sets of one yarn you can save some more money. 
  • Dharma Trading - I've never used any of Dharma's dyeable yarns, but they seem to offer a bunch of different natural and synthetic fiber options.  I purchased my acid dyes from Dharma along with some undyed silk scarves and cotton fabric accessories to use with some of my commercial dyeing experiments.  Dharma also has a wide variety of dyeable rovings that include cellulose and synthetic fibers.  Someone once asked me to find 100% bamboo roving and I'm happy to say that now I've found some!  Maybe I'll have to pick some up the next time I purchase some dyes.
  • New England Farm to Fiber - Natural yarn straight from the New England farmer.  This yarn company has a stall at the Boston Public Market and feature yarns from a dozen farms in the New England area.  Like many skeins of yarn from small local farms, the price per skein is higher than what you might pay from a larger yarn company. This site offers a variety of natural colors to choose from, and I imagine that they would all take up dye beautifully.  Personally I would probably chose to knit something from the natural colored wool, but I also wanted to include at least one local (to me) source on this list.
  • Quince & Co - In addition to huge arrays of fabulous colors, many of their yarn lines come in at least one undyed color.  I love that the thumbnail for each of the yarn lines is a natural, undyed color of the yarn!  The have a category for bare yarns, but this leaves out some of the natural NON off white colors that they offer.  Skeins of yarn are sold individually.  Since the yarns come both undyed and dyed, you can get a solid color and then dye a variegated yarn in the same base to complement it.  Sounds fun to me! 
  •  Yarn Undyed / bareyarns.com - It is funny. I just about had given up on the YarnUndyed.com website because it looked like there were only wholesale options and the website for knitters to buy individual skeins didn't seem to work properly. Then I discovered their site through bareyarns.com, and it looks like this one is set up for US based shoppers.  This UK supplier ships both to the US and Canada, and offers both single skeins and 5 skein packs in a mixture of fiber types.  Bare BFL yarns?  Yes please!  They also offer camel, cashmere / silk blends and more.  They offer free airfreight shipping on orders over $75 in case you are worried about expensive international shipping. 
  •  Catnip Yarns -  Catnips offers a wide variety of fiber types, weights, and blends.  You can buy the bare yarns by the cone or by the skein, although it looks like there are more cone options available.  The single skeins range from 3.4 - 5.1 oz from what I could find scanning the site. (I am noting this because most other site sell skeins in 50 or 100 g increments.)  Catnip Yarns will provide free samples of their yarns (12" long pieces) if you email them.  I haven't reached out for samples as of writing this post, but if I do then I will update it with some opinions on the yarns.  
  • A Child's Dream - Child's Dream only has 5 different options for undyed yarn. These include a Big loop Mohair Boucle yarn which looks very unique and cool, although it is $43 / 8 oz. The yarns appear to come the Brown Sheep Yarn Company in Nebraska.  
  • Pacific Wool and Fiber - It looks like Pacific Wool and Fiber currently is only stocking bare unspun fibers, but they certainly have a lot of wheel and wheel accessory options.  They carry a nice variety of wool breeds so you can have some choices for the fiber types you want to dye and spin.  
  • Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company - This small company offers a variety of natural wool yarn colors in addition to some plant dyed colors.  With their natural colors, you can specify whether you would like sport, worsted, or bulky weight in the given natural undyed colorway.  The colors range from a dark chocolate brown, a variegated brown/pale twist, medium browns, to pale grey or off white colors.  I am not sure if yarns are spun to order of if there are any minimums, but it is an option for sourcing a variety of natural colors in the yarn weight you want.  
  • Ashland Bay - WHOLESALE ONLINE. Ashland Bay offers dozens of different undyed yarns and unspun fibers.  I haven't personally tried any of their bare yarns, but I know that they are popular with other indie dyers.  They even provide sock blanks!  Unfortunately, you can't set up a retail account with them. In order to set up a wholesale account, you have to commit to spending $750/year and send them a copy of your business license within the fiber/textile industry.  They do have a list of online and local distributors on their website.  If they have a product you want but you can't find a supplier, maybe you can ask a yarn store that has an account with them to place a special order for you. Three online suppliers (which you can see next on this list) are WEBS, Paradise Fibers, and Fiber to Yarn. 
  • WEBS America's Yarn Store - The local yarn store on the web that has the domain yarn.com, has a limited selection of natural undyed yarns.  (Search their site for "undyed" for the results to come up.)  They do, however, offer a wide selection of undyed spinning fiber as roving and top.  I have some of their BFL in my stash.  I thought I might blend it with some other, unordered, fiber that I have in my stash but I couldn't bare to mess up the ordered top. They sell Ashland Bay unspun fibers.
  • Paradise Fibers -  They have multiple options for undyed 100% silk yarns in addition to some wool options.  Most of the in stock wool yarns seems to come in cone form versus skeins (the silk yarns are in skeins). They have MANY MORE options for bare spinning fiber than for undyed yarns.  They are an Ashland Bay distributor but at the time I looked the yarns were sold out and they only had Ashland Bay unspun fiber. 
  • Fiber to Yarn - Here is another Ashland Bay Distributor.  They have limited 4 oz skeins in stock, but they will place a special Ashland Bay order for you if you are going to spend a minimum of $200.  It looks like this might be a good place to try out some single skeins of Ashland Bay yarns before committing to a bulk order.  
  • Darn Good Yarn - They offer a limited selection of dyeable yarns that vary from wool to silk sari ribbon.  You can purchase the yarns in individual skeins. (Note, I became a Darn Good Yarn Affiliate Marketer in February 2018.)
  •  ACME Fibers - This Canadian company offer a variety of weights and fiber bases.  All of the prices are listed in Canadian dollar.  WOA!  For an additional $6 or $6.50, you can get any fingering weight yarn that you purchase machine knit into a blank for dyeing... either single OR double stranded. This is a HUGE offer.  I didn't see specific information on shipping to the US, but you can always contact them to ask if they will ship internationally.  
  • Elitespun - This is another Canada base company that offers a variety of yarn bases.  I found a price list for the dyeable yarns on their site, but it doesn't look like they have pictures of the individual yarns.  Elitespun's website feels like a small company, and you will likely need to email them for prices and to place an order. 
  • Lion Brand Yarn - While not really an seller of undyed yarns, I need to include Lion Brand on this list since the first ever yarns that I dyed were Lion Brand Wool Ease in the color Fisherman.  This yarn is 80% acyrlic, 20% wool but it still takes up food coloring surprisingly well.  I know that a lot of my followers like to use Sock Ease in Marshmallow (75% wool, 25% nylon) because it is something that they can find in big box stores without needing to shop online.  They even offer some luxury fibers like cashmere and yak!  As a random aside that surprised me as I was looking at their site, they sell 100% acyrlic roving AND some steel/wool blend yarn.  Who knew? I've had some trouble finding some of these yarns in person lately (although I did pick up some Fishermen's Wool Yarn in Mapel Tweed this week because I thought it would be fun to over dye.)   (Note, I became a Lion Brand Affiliate in January 2018.)

Did I include your favorite place to purchase bare yarn in the above list?  Let me know and I can update the list!

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