Experiments with Spinning in Color I

It’s snowing today: big, fat flakes that started sticking really fast, even though they are very wet. We’ve got some birds hanging out at the feeder, and it always impresses me when they can fly through that heavy snow.

I recently dyed some merino cross wool that came with my Cassandra Spinning Wheel when I bought it. I did several colors because I was tired of spinning white wool and I wanted to try my hand at some dying of wool, rather then dying finished yarn. I want to do up some samplers because I’m curious what I will end up with if I mix the various natural colors of wool and alpaca in with the colored merino. I’ve been really surprised at how the white, grey, brown, and black mixed in with color. I was also surprised how the yarn looked spun up vs knitted.

With this first sampler that I have done, I didn’t think to take any photos of the finished yarn, because I knitted it right off the bobbin. For future samples I think I am going to skein up the yarn and take some photos of the yarn before I knit it.

I don’t like the way these photos turned out, but if I don’t move forward with posting and worry about getting the photos perfect I will never post anything. I may repost this with better photos in the future, but I will make note of that here if I do. For now, these will have to do so I can move forward with this project instead of spending all my time learning about photography and lighting right in this moment. This probably would have been easier if I hadn’t started with the darkest color I dyed, but that’s just how that goes.

I’ve been trying to dye a particular shade of blue for awhile now with no luck, but I’ve gotten some amazing different jewel tones in various purples. This is a photo of the Merino cross wool that I tried to dye blue, but it ended up with this awesome purple:

There was still some dye left in the pot so I added some more wool at the end and ended up with this blue (which also wasn’t the color of blue I was going for but that’s cool, pivot):

For this sampler I made rolags with my hand carders (first time ever!!) and then chain plied (also my first time doing this) the resulting yarn so as to keep the different sections distinct. I made three rolags of just the purple color and one rolag each of 50% purple and 50% of the other fiber except in the white, which is 25%, 50% and 75% white. I spun this on my Electric EEL Wheel 6.0 mostly long draw with a z-twist, then chain plied, which resulted in a 3 ply s-twist yarn. I then knitted a sampler straight off the bobbin, 100% purl stitch and played yarn chicken at the end, which I lost with about 7 stitches to go, so I pulled off the tail for the cast on and used that to finish. If you look close at the grey side you can see the bright purple from the beginning contrasting in the bind off. I used addi 3.25 mm metal needles but decided I didn’t like them so switched to clover bamboo in 3.5mm just past the second section. I prefer the smaller needle from a fabric perspective but didn’t like the needles, which I was using for the first time, and couldn’t find a smaller bamboo needle. This is the Finished knitted sample, washed and dried:

These are the add ins: Top row left is Brown, top row right is grey, both Mini Cheviot. Bottom row big photo is Black Alpaca, top right is white merino cross which came with my Cassandra Spinning Wheel when I bought it and is the base for the colors in this run of samples, bottom right is grey alpaca from Tallgrass Woolery.

And here is a photo of the different sections mapped out:

The order is kind of hard to make out so it goes left to right: 1) Purple only 2) purple x blue 3) Purple x 50% white 4) Purple x 25% white 5) Purple x 75% white 6) Purple x grey alpaca 7) Purple x black alpaca 8) Purple x brown cheviot 9) purple x grey cheviot

Some more random photos to try to capture the colors better:

And some photos of the finished sample in different color temps, unfortunately when I picked it up, I put it down backwards from how it was originally so these are the opposite direction of the prior photos:

Some thoughts on this, in no particular order:

  1. I have some brown alpaca I really wish I would have remembered to do as well, although I was really wanting to get on to the knitting of this which brings me to
  2. I wish I would have done two rolags of all of them instead of just one. I did three rolags of the original purple, before I decided to do this experiment so this was pretty unplanned and thrown together as I was doing this. I will put some more planning into the next one I do and not be so hasty to get onto the knitting.
  3. I love the texture of the just purple one and I think I love the texture of the purple plus alpaca ones but since there is so little of each yarn its hard to tell the true texture.
  4. The cheviot definitely brought down the fine-ness of the overall product but also brought in some sproing-y-ness that I really love. It’s one of my favorite things about the cheviot.
  5. The alpaca/merino seemed a little stringy in the spin and knitting but I can’t tell it so much in the final knitted object…..I think? again, so little yarn its hard to tell.
  6. I found the just purple to be overall softer then all the rest of them but i’m not sure that isn’t just because there is more of it.
  7. My favorite of these is the last one of the purple x grey Cheviot, but I also like the purple and grey alpaca. I think I want to try some purple x grey x white to see if I can get it a bit lighter but still keep that interesting purple coloring that comes through.
  8. That purple x blue did NOT do look like I expected at all! Its a denim color irl, which is crazy to me.
  9. Spinning is wild y’all! If you’re interested in spinning at all I highly recommend the Ply Spinners Guild, I’ve learned a lot!

That’s all I’ve got for now.


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