Sunday, 8 April 2012

Colourful Months part 1 - February

The late winter months can really seem long and dreary, even though February is really the shortest month and the days are starting to get longer - so its a good time to inject a little colour!!

However long you have been practicing a craft you can always learn from other people so along with other members of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, I joined in Alison Daykin's  online Colour Blending workshop.

here's the picture I took as my colour inspiration:
I was interested in the colours in the water, and the rock, so I called the series 'Water and Rock' (original, huh?!!)

The plan was to blend a series of colours from fibres in primary colours plus black and white:
The natural black and white are Shetland wool, the dyed colours are merino

I was aiming to create the dark greenish khaki of the shadows on the water, a couple of greyish blues, and the more golden shade on the rock. I started with the khaki:
 First I started to blend yellow and blue and a little black to try for green. way too much blue at first, I added small amounts of each colour at a time, weighing as I went along, and ended up with 5 parts blue, 5 parts yellow, 6 parts black and 2 parts red - after many passes through my drum carder I got the yellow to 'sink in':
  Next, an attempt to replicate the shade but adding the final proportions of colours all in one go gave me this:
It is very difficult to weigh small amounts accurately with normal domestic equipment, so they arent exactly the same, but pretty close.

On to the grey blue:
On the next-to-last pass through the drum carder I added a few tiny 'pinches' of white silk tops to give lustre and highlights, here's the final batt:
This one has 6 parts blue, 8 white, 5 black and 1 red. It is a bit bluer than I had hoped, so I tried again, starting by making grey (15 white, 8 black) and then adding some blue (3) and a little red (1). Again I added some white silk near the end of the carding :
The two dark khakis plus the greyish blue and the blueish grey seemed to reflect the main shades in the water:
Now for the rock! The natural black Shetland, really a very dark brown, would fit for the dark areas so I just had the golden brown to try to replicate. 8 parts yellow, 4 black and 2 red turned out to be a good guess and I didn't make any further additions:

So after a full-on afternoon of weighing and drum-carding I had seven batts. The proportions of shetland to merino varied, but they were a joy to spin as they were so thoroughly carded. I spun singles which when 2-plyed gave a double-knitting thickness, in total I spun 445 metres (145g).

The presence of the Shetland has given the yarn more bounce and loft than merino alone would have had. Now I'm working up a design to use all the colours together, with a sense of the picture without trying to replicate it - watch this space!!!

Fancy trying this yourself? On May 20th I'm running a workshop called Playing with Colour where you can choose between this and two other techniques to put colour into your spinning - or felt-making. The workshop will be in Blackford Village Hall, (Perthshire) from 10 - 4 and costs £70. All materials provided. Drop me an e-mail to if you'd like more details.

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