skein dyeing


Skein Dyeingskein dyeing


Skein dyeing is one of the oldest methods of coloring yarn. A skein, which is a length of yarn wound in a loose coil, is dyed by being immersed in a receptacle containing pigment. Skein dye pots were found in the remains of Pompeii and were used by the Inca Indians of South America. Typically a fire was built under the pot, and sticks were used to turn the skeins. Matter root, various barks, berries, and indigo produced some of the natural dyes originally used.

Modern Skein Dyeing

Skein dyeing is still important for its ability to dye small lots of yarn. Although the basic principles are the same, the methods and materials involved have, of course, undergone significant changes over the years.


Using a machine called a reel, a skein is wound quickly and tied off in such a way that it can be unwound for further processing without tangling. The yarn has been twisted and heat-set prior to being reeled. Most of it comes from Shaw yarn mills, but occasionally we use yarns from outside suppliers.

Types Of Yarn Used

The yarn we skein dye most often is nylon. We skein dye wool, too, but currently have little demand for it. Manmade fibers other than nylon, such as polyester and polypropylene, cannot be dyed by the skein but must be solution dyed.

The Dye Cycle

After the yarn is reeled in nine pound skeins, these skeins are hung on carriers which are then lowered into large dye becks. Dye liquor is pumped through the becks, forcing dyestuff into the fibers. The dye is circulated with enough power to float the skeins off the carrier arms, eliminating undyed white areas where the skeins were hung.

Dyeing takes place in normal atmospheric conditions (not under pressure) and generally involves holding the dyeload at near-boiling temperatures for one hour. During this dye cycle, the yarn is bulked, which gives skein dyed yarn products a full hand.


  • Highly controlled color definition
  • Ability to mix numerous colors in the carpet
  • Relatively short lead time
  • Ability to custom match colors
  • Good side matching at seams

See Also: continuous dyeing | beck dyeing | space dyeing | solution dyeing 

©2010 FloorBiz, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Flooring | Flooring Guide | Flooring Info | Flooring Forum