Color Blending: The Circle

UntitledUntitled 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.

circleFirst, 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.

lineupDuring 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.

color blended handspunI 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!


Tour de Fleece 2018

I haven’t forgotten entirely about this blog; since paying for the domain it’s been weighing on me because I haven’t been using it. It reminds me of the time my parents paid out of pocket for a season’s ski pass at our local ski area (out of pocket because in previous years my Dad worked there on weekends and I got his free season pass) and I used it three times that winter. The winter before I broke my leg skiing, so I guess that helps explain it. Well, I didn’t break my fingers (or my brain, though a few times I’ve wondered), and I just finished Tour de Fleece, so let me tell you about that.

I joined two teams on Ravelry this year but I spent my time on Instagram looking at one team’s pics and the general TdF hashtags. My favorite part of participating is getting to see what everyone else is doing and I’ve become so acclimated to Instagram that Ravelry seems tedious to scroll through now. Maybe next year I’ll be better, or maybe next year I’ll be a rebel and just participate on Instagram? Or start my own team that communicates mainly on IG? That’s certainly something to think about.

My goal this year was to spin 15 minutes a day for each day of the tour, knowing that I would take non-standard rest days due to a weekend trip to Norfolk, VA. I actually ended up taking three rest days instead of two (there are two, right?); the Saturday and Sunday of the Norfolk trip I didn’t spin, and this Saturday I didn’t spin. But I honestly am not too upset about this. Last year I stopped not too far into the Tour to knit a commissioned shawl for an old friend, so I’m happy I was able to stick with it this year.

I haven’t tallied up my yardage or checked WPI on these, but here’s my yarn family photo from Tour de Fleece 2018.

Tour de Fleece 2018

From red to purple:

  1. Three Waters Farm Fall Folderol (40% merino, 40% superwash merino, 20% Silk – Tussah). I’ve been puzzling over why one would want both merino and superwash merino in the same top, but that’s a question to investigate another day.
  2. Pigeon Roof Studios (who’s no longer dyeing) Land and Sky OOAK (100% extra fine merino). I spun this thicker than my usual, so it’s a heavy worsted or aran and super bouffy.
  3. Spunky Eclectic Joshua Tree (65% Wool – Polwarth, 25% Goat – Mohair, 10% Silk). This goes perfectly with my next spin, which I acquired 6 months after this one.
  4. The Fiberists Specimen 209 (85% BFL, 15% Silk – Tussah). I know Reggie and Spencer personally and was thrilled to find two braids of this in my Shrödinger’s bag (their version of a grab bag). You should check them out; they just got a line of enamal pins that are really, really cute and I want them all but I really need Dr. Mori.
  5. The purples are both 4 oz braids of Targhee that I’ve had in my stash since 2010. It was time to take the plunge and dye them and spin them.

So that’s 28 ounces of wool that I spun for TdF! Huzzah!

More on those bumps I dyed myself … My Mom’s birthday is August 1 and she like purple, so I thought I’d dye and spin these braids for her – she knits and crochets. The first skein I spun almost like a fractal; I divided the roving into 3 lengths. I spun the first one end to end, the second one end to end but the opposite ends of the first (if that makes sense), and the third I divided into as many strips as possible. The resulting yarn varies pleasingly in color, but I spun it short forward draw (my go-to) and I don’t think the yarn really takes advantage of the bounce and crimp in the fiber.

So I divided the second bump into three equal portions based on color: red, white, blue. (How patriotic!) I carded each color, made rolags, and spun this one (mostly) long backward draw. The resulting yarn is squishy and bouncy, but the color is on par with butcher’s twine for me – it just looks really boring. So as I type this, it’s cooling off in a dye pot because I overdyed it with violet.

Phew. Now I need to count yardarge and update my stash on Ravelry with everything. That may be a good task for tomorrow since (hey!) I actually wrote a blog post! I hope that if you did the Tour, you had fun!

TBT: Bohus Stickning

Bohus Stickning was a Swedish organization/movement that began in the 1930s to help women support their families through hand-knitting  sweaters and accessories. The Bohus sweaters became very popular in the late 1940s into the 1950s. The recent knitting (and hand crafting) revival has also seen a revival of interest in the Bohus designs, with updated patterns, books, and even traveling museum exhibits. One book, Poems of Color has a detailed history of Bohus Stickning along with some updated patterns; I highly recommend it.

From April 2010 to March 2011 I spun yarn for and knitted a cardigan based on a design in Poems of Color: The Red Palm. I called mine The Blue Palm, details are on Ravelry and the full album (from fiber to finished sweater) is on Flickr. Many Bohus designs were made with an angora blend yarn; mine was not, it’s made from Cormo (white), BFL (blue), a blend of the two, and a merino cross (brown). I also switched the color gradient so that the majority of the design goes from dark to light.

Bohus Final Flat
My Blue Palm Cardi

For these three reasons – color, gradient change, fiber content – Bohus purists (and those trying to preserve and promote the designs) probably wouldn’t consider my cardigan to be a true Bohus design. One of the original Bohus designers, Solveig Gustafsson, has worked with the Bohusläns Museum since the late 1990s to recreate some of the original designs. She offered kits on a website with yarns that very closely match the weight and fiber content of the original Bohus sweaters. I’ve thought about ordering a kit from her but her website wasn’t all that easy to use and to order and you have to send her email (her English is reportedly very good), which I’ve just never gotten around to doing.

I was poking around in the Bohus Stickning group on Ravelry yesterday and discovered that Solveig has retired from providing kits but Angora Garnet, a yarn producer, offers them on a much more user-friendly website! And not only that, but newly-revived Bohus design kits have been added! Now I need to decide which design I want to knit, fill out the online form, and order a kit: Blue Flower, Blue Light, Green Wood, The Forest Darkness. If I can’t decide I should just order kits for and knit all of them, right?

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday I tidied up part of The Yarn Office, my work/studio space (and the name of my etsy shop). I used to occupy the room in our house known as the office but outgrew that several years ago and took over our formal living room. One of my sons called it “The Yarn Office,” which we all thought was very funny at the time, and the name stuck.

The Yarn Office
My work space in The Yarn Office

I feel so much better having cleared my desk off and tidied most of the boxes and baskets that are hidden underneath it. I also cleaned off the top of my yarn stash cabinet, but not the inside – I still need to go through my stash (which has spilled over into a basket and box) and sort out the bottom shelf, which is where I shove yarn & project bags and where I keep things I don’t want to part with, like old journals and projects the kids have done. The bottom drawer also needs a good clean-out; it’s where I keep my knitting needles, beading supplies, extra whorls for my spinning wheel, and other miscellaneous things.

The Yarn Office
The Yarn Stash Cabinet

See those rolls of fabric in the corner in the yarn stash picture? I need to do something with them, like sell them or give them away. I’ve had one of them for 5 years and the other for 2. I was going to make curtains, but I don’t get along well with my sewing machine (ironic because I come from a long line of seamstresses). If I haven’t done anything with that fabric yet, I don’t think I’m going to. That pretty much applies to the rest of my fabric stash – I need to use it or lose it. This spring has been all about being realistic about what I can and want to do and letting go of things & projects that I’m not going to tackle any time soon.

I haven’t even touched on my fiber stash, which is taking up a little room under my desk and an entire corner of my dining room. I’m hoping to take my unwashed fleece & washed but not carded fleece to Maryland Sheep & Wool next weekend to drop off at the Singleton Fiber Processing booth. They’re within driving distance; I just haven’t gotten around to getting my fleece there since I decided 2 years ago that I’m not interested in processing them myself. I’m glad I know how to go from sheep to yarn but I’d rather work with finished roving for now, which I haven’t been doing because I have fleece guilt. Ah, the life of a procrastinator is filled with guilt, but I’m working on both of those problems.

How about you? Have you done any spring cleaning?