Thursday, 8 August 2013

Dyed Fibre Should be WYSIWYG - Part 2

And sometimes, it is.  When I designed my "Fractal Rovings" I wanted something that was more WYSIWYG and could be spun into a predictable yarn.  Self-striping yarns were just coming in and I wanted to spin some.  I had also read a really neat article in Spin-Off on Fractal Spinning.  But the Corriedale roving I had was narrow, which made splitting more challenging, you can split it in quarters but then you pretty much have to spin fingering weight.  I had a think, and did some sampling.  In the end I began making pairs of rovings, one with long stripes and one with short stripes.

Lets look at how these are different from the commercial roving I sampled in the last post.  This is "Old Country".  At the top of the picture is the "long stripe" roving.  Each stripe is about 2 feet long.  At the bottom is a sample of the fibre, it's about 4" long.  In the middle is the short stripe.  Each short stripe is about 6" long.

Here's what they look like lightly twisted together:

 So what might this roving look like as yarn?  Looking closely at both rovings we notice that the colour isn't perfectly even in any of the stripes, so we know that within each section the colour is going to be heathered.  The short stripes are about 1-1/2 times the fibre length so we know we will get sections of yarn that look pretty much like each stripe.  The stripes blend into each other so we know there will be sections where the yarn does that too.  If you spin both and then ply them together there should be long stripes of one colour with shorter stripes of all the colours moving along it's length much like the roving:


And there are definite stripes.  And it looks a lot like the original roving.  Each long stripe of colour has 8 short stripes of colour along it's length.  At some points the colours match up to nearly a solid, at others the contrast is more striking.  The value range is fairly narrow so that even the colours that are farthest apart don't clash.  And the colours themselves are all closely related so they play nicely together.  The yarn appears a bit darker than the roving as is usually the case.  I think it's because spinning compresses the fibres together creating a smaller surface area which allows less light to reflect back.  The yarn is also a bit more muted as should be expected with the colours blending together.

Because I have sampled and played with Fractal Rovings a lot, and so have many of my fibre friends, I can tell you that if you split the short stripe into quarters lengthwise and the long stripe in half then spin a mid fingering weight 2 ply yarn when you knit an average sock each of those short stripes will last for 1 to 2 rounds and each long stripe lasts about 12-16 rounds.  But you don't have to split it that way and you don't have to make fingering weight.  There are lots of ways to split and combine the plies to make different stripe lengths.  The heavier the yarn the shorter the stripes will be.  But this roving will stripe pretty much no matter what you do.

In part 3 we will sum up what the two rovings have taught us about looking at handpainted fibre so we can make more informed choices.

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