The beauty of tonals, semi-solid yarns

In the world of indie dyers, there is no such thing as solid colour. It has to do with dying the wool after it has been spun.

Commercial yarn brands dye the wool before they spin it into balls; they have the space and the huge vats. Small variances in shade or tone are blended in the spinning step so the eye sees a true solid colour. There is a reassuring reliability to knitting with solids and they are the go-to choice for many projects.

But, oh, how charming the subtle beauty of the not-quite-solid colours you get from indie dyers.  These yarns are dyed after they have been spun, so the dye attaches itself a bit differently to the yarn. Sometimes it clings with all its might and sometimes it is a more casual embrace. The effect is a subtle (or not if the natural yarn itself had different shades throughout) blend of tones or shades of the colour of the dye.

tonal semi-solid hand-dyed yarn

Pure Comfort Cardigan by Andrea Yetman

From afar, a sweater, shawl or socks knit in tonals look like a solid, but when you see it close up, you can see all the intriguing shifts. Such a pleasure! Not as dramatic a feast for the eyes as a speckled or variegated yarn, more like a wink and a smile.

Tonals have personality! Each batch is a little quirky, a little unique. And isn’t that why we knit? To create unique pieces for our loved ones and ourselves.

Why choose tonals semi-solid yarns

Lace patterns shine in a semi-solid yarn where the intricate stitches are splendidly showcased.

lace shawl knitted with semi-solid tonal hand-dyed yarn

The light play of tones enhances rather than detracts on cables so they truly pop.

Stranded work takes on a unique look when knit with tonal yarns: the patterns are a little less crisp giving the sweater or toque a different allure.

stranded colorwork with semi-solid tonal hand-dyed yarn

And a plain tee or pair of socks are never truly plain when knit in a tonal yarn.

Still not sold on tonals?

Garments or accessories knit with tonal yarns are great additions to any wardrobe. Tonals are easy to pair with just about every item of clothing you own: they are fabulous with plaids, prints, and stripes. They complement stranded knitting and yes, are a playful friend to pieces featuring speckled or variegated yarns.

Whisperer socks free pattern with semi-solid hand-dyed yarn

Whisperer Socks by Dolly Bhardwaj

When you jump onto the tonal bandwagon (we know you will – they’re irresistible), there is one rule to follow: if your project requires more than one skein, be sure to alternate skeins every so often (i.e.: every 4th row). It is pretty common to have colour variations in hand-dyed yarn, even from the same dye lot. These variations may not be obvious when looking at the skeins but can become quite visible once you start knitting so don’t risk it, alternate! Find more info on this topic here: Yarn pooling - what is it and how to manage it.

If you haven’t already, try one of our tonal yarns. Let us know how you like them, what projects you made or are planning to do.  

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