Friday, 8 February 2013

Fractal


I've been exploring different ways of spinning multicoloured fibres and this post is about FRACTAL SPINNING.
This sounds as if it should involve lots of complicate maths, but thankfully it doesn't, it is a way of managing a multicoloured tops so that the colours show up well in the finished yarn and don't end up a disappointingly muddy mixture.

The story starts with a hand-dyed top - Choc Choc Cherry from easyknits.com. I had 80g left from a sock spining and knitting project completed about a year ago. The fibre is 80% merino, 20% nylon (to make it hard wearing for socks). This batch was custom dyed for me by Jon (easyknitter) because I ran out of the first batch before I finished the socks.
I split the tops in half along its length, and for the first (A) single I spun one half from one end, worsted style and quite high twist, to give a 30 wraps per inch singles. Each colour section was quite long and shaded gradually into the next colour.

For the second (B) single I split the other half of the tops, again along its length, into eight rovings.

Being careful to spin them all from the same end I spun them one after another to the same thickness and twist as the first singles. Because the roving was so much thinner the colour sections were a lot shorter, they followed the same sequence as in the first single but the sequence was repeated eight times.

Then I simply plied the two singles, putting in enough twist to create a balanced two-ply yarn measuring 16 wraps per inch. All the spinning and plying was done on an Ashford traveller using the 15:1 ratio, so it was easy to get the medium-high twist I was aiming for. I would have put in more twist if I had been making a sock yarn.

Where the two plies are the same colour it produces a section of 'solid' colour, but the
'A' colour is also combined with the other colours from the B single in sequence, giving different barber-pole effects,before the A colour changes and produces a different solid colour.

I knitted the hap shawl using Kate Davies' Northmavine Hap pattern, from her lovely book Colours of Shetland.
The original design has narrow stripes of five different colours, which is beautiful but means there are a lot of ends to sew in. My fractal yarn also gives a stripey effect which shows off the undulations of the Old Shale lace variation, but from a continuous yarn.

I had 318 metres of yarn so my hap is a bit smaller than Kate's design, which uses nearly 600 metres, but it is a fine size for a scarf or shoulder wrap.
After I blocked it I had fun taking photos of it outside in the snow.
 I like the ones of it hanging against the wintery sky.

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