Monday, January 7, 2013

Blending colors on the hand cards for variegated yarn

I've been experimenting at the spinning wheel the past few days. Last week I picked up three colors of wool roving from my local fiber supply store. Then, inspired by a post by Cecelia Yarnell that I had seen a few months ago on the FaceBook spinning group, I decided to break out the hand carders and try blending the colors together.

So, first I broke off lengths of roving about the same length as the hand carders. That gave me a more or less consistent amount of wool to work with.
Then to blend, I'd break off a bit of each, and swap them.
By trading bits in different proportions and blending them together, it should give me a gradual transition from one color to the next in the finished yarn, right?
So, I spread one color onto the cards...
...then evenly layered the other color over the top.
After several passes back and forth on the cards, the colors were blended nicely together. The more passes back and forth, the more blended the fibers got. Then I rolled the fiber off of the cards into a rolag, ready to pre-draft and spin into yarn.
I laid out the rolags of wool in the order I wanted to spin them, pulled out my spinning wheel, and had at it. I started with the green, worked my way through the turquoise, and ended up at the dark blue.

After spinning that much up, I found my bobbin was only about half full. So I carded up another batch, and went back the other way. Once my yarn was spun, I Navajo plied it to make a balanced and strong 3-ply yarn. Navajo plying kept the color variegation pure, so the final skein would be solid colors blending gradually from one color to the next.

I wet the finished yarn in hot water, and hung it to dry over night. That set the twist and fluffed up the fibers a little bit. You can see here how nice the Navajo plying turned out. I'm really pleased with that, since this was my first time really to try that technique. (I learned from this video: )
And here is the finished yarn, wound into a center pull ball. I'm really tickled with the way this turned out. This skein is about 160 yards of worsted weight 3-ply wool yarn. It has been promised in a trade to a lady who does crochet work. I'm looking forward to seeing what she makes of it! And, I'm also planning out my next spinning project using this blending technique. I can foresee a few skeins of a nice soft, bulky yarn using a similar variegation. Don't you think that would be beautiful woven up on the triloom? I've got several projects ahead of that one on my to-do list, but I'm looking forward to when I have the time to try it out!