Plying Variegated Yarn
I've been loving my new spinning wheel (a Louet S17 that I finished and painted). Its maiden yarn project was this fabulous mohair mix in orange, green, yellow, purple, and red. Perfect fall colors without resorting to browns and golds. I really liked the colors and I didn't really want to lose their impact by plying them together willy-nilly. I also didn't really want to make singles because they are more of a pain to finish and work with (plus I'm not that great of a spinner, so there's probably some skinny spots that would benefit from plying). AND I'm tired of chain-plying everything! So .. what to do?
I decided to try out splitting my roving in half and spinning them as evenly as I could onto two bobbins, then plying the two bobbins together... In theory, the colors should match up and I'd get some nice solid color gradations. All in all, it worked!!
Problems I ran into were that I am not that even of a spinner, and I certainly didn't split my roving perfectly either. So, as I spun, the colors would shift as they no longer lined up with each other. I ended up "plying poorly" by holding one of the strands back and letting the other ply around it. It made me feel bad, like I was plying poorly on purpose. You can see the effect in the picture above where one strand is still tight while they other is looser and fluffy.
I ended up breaking off the skein after about half the bobbin and pulling the rest off as singles. The colors were just too far off from each other to easily bring them back into line. If I was committed to the process, I would have sacrificed a portion of one of the bobbins to bring them both back into line and started again. I decided that this would give me a chance to play around with handspun singles anyway. It was fun, but not something that I would plan for again in the near future.
Variagated Yarn, Take 2
I was only somewhat happy with how the mohair yarn turned out, and have been thinking about how to make something better since then. I recently had a breakthrough and I'm excited to try out some variations.
The final effect is one of gradual change from one color to the next. There were not many places where the colors matched up exactly, but it created a really interesting gradient. I imagine that I could find a longer mirrored repeat in the roving and spin that the same way. I would get longer sections of each color, which would look really nice as part of a knitted sweater or wider weaving.
The process is basically the same as above, but with two crucial differences. First, break the long space-dyed roving up into arm length pieces. Make sure to break on the same color so that each section will meld into the next. Split a section lengthwise, and spin both halves onto the same bobbin. When you get to the second half, turn it around so that you are spinning a mirror of the first half.
Second, put the yarn into a ball and spin from both ends (note! This will not give you perfect, consistent yarn. I don't mind this, but you might). You will end up with about one LARGE weaving bobbin's worth of yarn that you can go ahead and weave with directly.