Thursday, February 11, 2010

For the Love of Color

In my last post I talked about the need to achieve a sort of balance between trusting my artistic instincts and questioning myself more to insure that I get the desired results the first time  (or sooner rather than later).  The section about trusting myself was based on the first braid of roving that I hand painted.  When I worried that it had come through the dyeing process as a dark, icky mess I second guessed myself and started opening the braid.  When I saw the colors I wanted I was like a little kid at Christmas with a tantalizing package in front of me.  I couldn't stop at just peeking.  I had to open the fibers and see the riotous color.

I split the roving into fourths.  And started spinning.  Each was about an ounce.  All of my spinning is done with drop spindles.

So, spinning anything takes longer for me than it would for a wheel spinner.  Although, I have to say that my time has improved quite a bit lately.  Might be the fact that I spun 9 oz of Ruby recently. Of course, the time it takes is in no way part of the goal of spinning.  The goal is to be able to produce the desired type of yarn CONSISTENTLY.  That, my dear, is the tricky part.  But the VERY tricky part is being able to produce consistent yarns in a VARIETY of weights.  Anyway, back to the time it takes me to spindle spin...  

When I was spinning all of those Ruby batts I got it down to about 3 hours to spin 1 ounce and then between 30 and 45 minutes to ply it to itself.  With this roving (and, yes.  I have spun all four of them already) by the time I was on the 4th (and sadly the last) ounce I spun it in 2 hours.  The plying is taking between 20 and 30 minutes.  The biggest problem I have run into in trying to spin this relatively quickly is my carpal tunnel in my right (drafting) hand.  I hold the fiber in my left hand, flick the spindle with my right hand, draft with my right hand, and then wind the yarn on with my (say it with me) right hand.  So by the time I'm done with just one ounce my right hand has had between 3-5 hours of exactly the type of repetitive pinching motion work that can be crippling.  A couple of days of this in a row and I start to have a gnarled claw.  

So I am wondering about spinning with a wheel.  While I wouldn't have to do the winding on of the yarn, I would still be drafting the fiber.  I have a feeling I would be able to use more of a long draw method with similar fibers instead of the inch worm approach  that using the spindle seems to necessitate.  Plus, the wheel would speed up the time.  While not a goal in and of itself, the natural increase would allow more fiber to be spun in the same amount of time or let me spin the same fiber in less time and lessen the strain on my hands so that I could spin for more days in a row.  I just wonder HOW much of a difference it will make.  Just one more thing to ponder while dreaming of the day that I can afford a wheel.  In the meantime, I am just thrilled, tickled, ecstatic to have produced this roving and spun this yarn.

These are pretty good photos of the first half of the yarn.  The third section is drying and I still need to ply the fourth.  I can't wait until it is all finished and we have a sunny day so I can take pictures of the whole thing in all its glory.

There is a cohesiveness to the whole of this.  It has an overall shade of brownish-purple that reminds me of that part of Autumn when the fire-red is almost but not quite gone.

And yet, you can clearly see individual colors.  Olive.  Gold.  Brown.  Black.  Rust.  Purple.  Copper.  Teal.  Turquoise.  Tan.  Navy.  Pink.  Mauve. Cobalt.  Green.  Salmon.  

I haven't measured the wraps-per-inch (WIP) yet.  I'm going to do that and re-measure the total yardage once the last bit is plied and finished.  Seems to me though that I should have in the neighborhood of 300 yards when all is said and done.  It is not as fine of a lace weight at I got with Ruby.  I purposely tried to keep it thicker.  Should be a solid fingering weight.  

All I know is that I could stare at this stuff for hours.  The colors are just mesmerizing to me.  

Well, I'm gonna go and ply that last bit now.  And, ponder what colors I should dye the other naked braid I have.  It's begining to taunt me...


  1. Yes the yarn is definitely mesmerizing! I get the carpal tunnel thing too, but from crocheting. It's very frustrating but I just switch to knitting when the pain starts.

  2. I spin exclusively on a drop spindle too, usually a CD spindle but I have been turning to a heavier spindle I had custom made. It's the size of a CD spindle (about 4" across the whorl) but since it's heavier I can consistantly get a thinner weight of yarn with it.

    I LOVE the colors you got with this! Gorgeous, gorgeous color and beautifully done. They don't blend together; the overall effect isn't "muddy". Wonderful!