Natural dyeing requires far more time and effort but produces some truly stunning colors while treading gently on the environment. Rather than use synthetic chemicals or even natural dye extracts, Hayes uses actual dyestuffs (such as madder, cochineal, logwood, and brazilwood), harvesting almost one-third of all dyestuffs herself.
Hayes currently offers her Nature's Palette naturally dyed yarns in 30 solid colors and five multicolored options called "Odd Duck" because of the random process she uses to create them. Even among the solids, there can be a delicate shift among hues, as I noticed with the yarn in this review.
Nature's Palette is currently available in fingering and worsted weights. For this review I focus on the DK weight, which is the most common weight for her patterns, in the Light Teal color.
Blocking / Washing
Even while wet, I could see a distinct surface bloom. The rippled surface had also calmed slightly.
Once the swatches dried, I saw no fading of color. But my unwashed 6.5 stitches per inch on US 5 needles had relaxed to a fairly steady 6 stitches per inch.
This particular yarn wears well because of the hard spin and two plies, although even more plies would help any harder-wearing socks.
True to merino, my swatches did not cause any itching, even when rubbed against more sensitive areas such as face and neck. This means you could make marvelous scarves and form-fitting sweaters with this yarn.
Structurally the yarn reminds me of Koigu Premium Merino, only with more yardage, a lower price, and a dramatically different underlying color philosophy.
This yarn begs to be knit into socks or an openwork lace scarf. A medium-sized pair of women's socks with some trim detail will require 350 yards, or two skeins (a mere $20). A shawl similar to the Charlotte's Web shawl from Koigu would require about five skeins, or $50.
Sure, you could probably find a similar-weight yarn for less—but it may not be a pure merino that's been carefully hand-dyed in small batches right here in the U.S. using only natural dye materials. I know I have my eye on a few colors for my next pair of handknit socks.
Hand Jive Knits
100% merino wool
None given on label. Knits up at fingering weight (7 to 8 stitches per inch on US 1-3 needles) but can easily expand to US 10 needles for patterns with more open stitchwork, such as lace
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Hand Jive Knits
Weight/yardage per skein
50 g / 185 yards
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Hand wash with cold water. Air dry flat. (We also recommend keeping your yarn out of direct sunlight because naturally dyed yarns tend to be less colorfast than their chemically treated counterparts.)
Color used in review
Light Teal (NP-110)
Contact Hand Jive directly