A while ago, a wrote about learning how to make rolags on my drum carder this spring. After coming up with a few combinations of gifted roving, I made sets of gradients between two colors, starting with a bright green and an aqua. I’ve done this before – when I made my first Bohus cardigan. This time, both the rovings are 80% merino, 20% silk; I didn’t want to blend textures or qualities like shine from the silk thanks to an earlier recent rolag experiment blending two dissimilar fibers together.
First, I made rolags of the solids, weighing out 20 g of each. Then I mixed them 50-50, with 10 g of aqua and 10 g of green. Finally, I mixed them 25-75, with 5 g of one color and 15 g of the other. I really love these colors and how they blended, but I started to think about adding a third color. When arranged on a flat lay or diagrammed on a piece of paper, I had a straight line of aqua->gradients->green, but if I added a third color, I could make a circle, which I did. The third color, blue, has a slightly different fiber content – 70% merino, 30% silk – it’s definitely a different roving base as the roving is very thin, perhaps half as thin as the other two rovings, and the silk has some nubs and chunkier texture than the other two, but it’s close enough in texture that it’s not too noticeable.
Just before Tour de Fleece started I decided to warm up and spin the circle. I didn’t think about how much yarn the circle would make, but that’s 240 g of roving, about 8 1/2 oz of fiber. I realized during the first gradient that it wouldn’t all fit on one bobbin, so I spun from blue to the last gradient before aqua, started a new bobbin for aqua to the last gradient before green, and then one more for green to the last gradient before blue.
During spinning, I was thinking both actively and in the background about what to make. (You know when you have a problem to solve but actively thinking about it doesn’t help so you take a walk and while thinking about something else the answer comes to you? That’s what I mean.) I really wanted to maintain the circle idea, but the only thing I could think of that would work was an infinity cowl, but I knew I was going to end up with much more than a cowl’s worth of yarn. I decided I’d make a scarf instead, casting on lengthwise and knitting all through the gradients. To keep the colors all evenly striped, I’d need to spin 20 g more of one of the solids – I picked blue. For the picture above, I chose aqua but evenly divided one 20 g set of rolags for the photo.
I chose the blue because is a much darker hue than the aqua or green and it could act as a frame for the two lighter colors. Also, I’m not entirely happy at how much more dominant the blue is because it is so much darker; the aqua to green transition is much more subtle than either of the transitions to/from blue – something I’ll need to compensate for the next time I do this.
I chain plied everything and while skeining it, spit-spliced the ends to make one giant skein. I washed and whacked it, let it dry, and then gave my jumbo ball winder a workout. That’s a US quarter in the picture for scale – this is perhaps the largest yarn cake I’ve ever made; it was almost too big for the jumbo ball winder. The finished 3 ply sport weight yarn is about 768 yards and weighs 279 g. I’ll post about the scarf I’m making with it once it’s done and I have some fancy pictures of it.
First, some things I’ll do differently the next time I make a gradient:
- I might exercise my math muscle a little more to make smaller rolag quantities. I honestly picked 20 g because it is so easily divided into the necessary portions.
- As I mentioned, the darkness of the blue bothers me. I’d like to either figure out how to properly blend a dark color with a light for a more subtle transition or stick with colors with the same … values? Is that the right word?
- I need to read a book about color theory and blending.
- For symmetry, I would repeat one of the other colors, making one the center. The yarn I made has blue, light green, aqua, blue stripes. My circle idea would be abandoned, but the resulting skein and FOs made from it would be more pleasing to the eye and my sense of order if it had blue, light green, aqua, light green, blue stripes (or with light green in the center).
Stay tuned! Fancy pictures and scarf details are forthcoming!