Saturday morning spinning and carding a gradient

June 7 2014

Good morning, and happy Saturday! It’s another busy weekend for me, so I’m enjoying my quiet time here in the house as long as I can. The dogs have been fed and have gone back to sleep, and my dear spouse doesn’t awaken until at least 8AM on the weekends, so I’ve got the house all to myself. The sky is starting to get brighter and the birds are starting to sing at around 4AM, so I have been starting to wake up a little earlier the past couple of weeks. Yes, I am a morning person, and not just because I wake up so early, but because I love to jump right into something productive as early as possible, and this morning is no exception.

Last weekend I spent some time preparing for a demonstration on blending with a drum carder at my guild meeting. I use my drum carder most often for blending fiber types, so preparing for that was pretty easy. I already had pre-bagged portions of Romney and alpaca to use. The Romney I have is gorgeous stuff all on its own, but with just a little bit of the silver alpaca blended in, it is absolutely stunning.

Blending colors was what I needed to spend a little more time on. My plan was to demonstrate the concept of optical blending, how the eye perceives one color when fibers of two or more colors are blended together, and to demonstrate a couple of techniques for creating multi-colored roving. Having done some experiments with creating multi-colored roving before, I chose to focus on the optical blending part first. After doing some stash diving through a box of fiber intended for carding projects, I came up with some solid colored roving which was all the same type of fiber.
The three colors I had significant amounts of were green, red, and violet, and I knew right away that the violet would create some interesting colors when blended with the other two colors. Using my handy little digital scale, I measured out one ounce of each of the three colors as a sample of them in their original form. To show the color changes based on the amount of each color in the blend, I then created several one ounce batts of 25% violet and 75% green, 50% of each, and 75% violet and 25% green, and then did the same for the red and violet.

Blending different colored fibers works just the same as mixing different colors of paint or dye. Blending equal amounts of the primary colors (red with blue, blue with yellow, or yellow with orange) gives you the secondary colors, and changing the percentages of the primary colors gives you the tertiary colors. Adding in white, gray, or black in varying percentages gives you the tints, tones, and shades. There’s even more possibilities when you play with different color properties too. Check out “Color in Spinning” or “Color Works” by Deb Menz for a more thorough explanation of how that all works.

Each of the one ounce batts I created between the green and violet and the violet and red were their own distinct colors, but I immediately saw the beginnings of a gradient colorway which is usually something I see done with dyeing. After I completed my demonstration at the guild meeting, I decided to do a little more blending to transitions between each batt a little smoother. To do this, I took a quarter ounce from each of the five once ounce batts in the green to violet range and blended it with another quarter ounce portion of the color next to it. The end result was nine batts at about a half ounce each, and the transition between the green and violet was even smoother.

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The green to violet gradient batts became gift (hi Harriet!), and I took home the four remaining batts that transitioned from the violet to the red to work on a little more. I knew I could take this gradient a little further with some orange from the same vendor (and same fiber) that I remembered having elsewhere in my stash, along with more of the red roving and the last little bit of violet from my box of fiber for carding projects.

Since the red is so dark, the violet and the orange both seem just a little too bright to have on their own at each end of the gradient that I want to create. This morning I’m still working on refining the range of color that I’m making here. I know where it ends on the purple side because the violet roving is all used up. This morning I’m working on getting just the right blends on the red-orange and orange-end.

There will also be some spinning this morning. My treadle repair on the Cardarelle wheel is holding up nicely, and the wheel spins beautifully, so I’ve started its inaugural project. There isn’t much to show yet since I really JUST started, so I’ll save that for next time.

Have a great weekend everyone, and happy spinning!

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