Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Stashdown!

Here's the next project in my efforts to convert my stash from stash to finished object! This is four ounces of wool combed top dyed by Galia's Spindle Designs. This, surprisingly, is not wool I paid for, but rather a prize I won entering into the Phat Fiber Blog giveaways! I was so thrilled, because this wool is gorgeous. It also had a fascinating scent from whatever wash Galia uses.

I love gradient dyed fiber and I really wanted to preserve the gradient. But with as long as the color shift was, I didn't really want to Navajo-ply the entire thing just for those three changes in color. I also noticed that there wasn't a long gradual change between each color and since I had an awful time trying to split the braid lengthwise I decided to try a different tactic. I broke the braid at each color change and started to spin. I ended up with three bobbins of three different colors of single.

Then the "hard" work began. I wound each of the three bobbins of single onto my niddy-noddy, keeping track of how much I wound. This gave me the full yardage of each single. Then I planned to make a slow-change yarn. The trick is to let each single run out over the length of the yarn.

Here's an example. I have 60 "yards" of my first color (=), 75 "yards" of my second color (-) and 60 yards of my third color (+). I know I'd like some solid color of each, and a length where the colors blend from one to the next, so I decide I'd like 5 yards of color-change. Since I want a three-ply yarn, I can divide my first color by 3 and then take 5 yards away from one strand, and add 5 yards to the last. The middle color just gets divided by three since it will already be offset by the first color, and then the last needs to bring everything back to the same length. So that's divided by three and has 5 yards difference in the first and last strand.

Here's a graphic to show it, below:


===============-----------------------+++++++++++++++++++++++++
====================-----------------------++++++++++++++++++++
=========================-----------------------+++++++++++++++


As you can see, one color runs out in each strand and then it all matches up again at the end.

Planned Gradient
Planned Gradient
Now, if this wasn't complicated enough, I figured I should make two matching skeins to use to make mittens. So, divide everything by two, first, and then do all the dividing-by-three and swapping extra yardage around and.. well. It worked. After winding and breaking and dividing and measuring and getting everything in the correct order on six different TP tubes and then back into plying balls, I was ready.

Planned Gradient
The yarn spun up very nicely. There is a lovely, slow change between each color as one ply runs out into the next color just as I planned. And the yardage between the two skeins is almost exactly matched. I did get off just a little bit and I'm still not sure how that happened, but it isn't going to stress me out at this point! And of course, part of the fun is figuring out how to photograph everything to show off how it all works!

Engineered Gradient
And in the end, we have two really pretty skeins of yarn, ready to be mittens. And four less ounces of unspun fiber in my stash!

As for the rest of this month's stashdown...

Echo Flower Shawl Textured Scarf

I'd tell you all about these two projects, but they really deserve their own posts. Keep watching for more!