Spinning a Painter's Palette

October 22, 2012

In the same way as the colours of paint available to an artist are merely the starting point for the creation, separate colours of wool offer infinite colour possibilities. And just as two cooks following the same recipe can have different results, so may spinners following the same technique, create yarns with different colour emphasis. 

Here are some suggested spinning techniques to try:

Straight draft from the end of the sliver. This yields the most complete blend of colours and results in the most subtle or quiet of colour effects.

From the fold or over the finger. This method of spinning separates the colours to a degree controlled in the drafting zone and results in a yarn with spots or areas of solid colour, giving an overall bright or vibrant effect.

Splitting the sliver. You can separate the sliver by colour and select the separate slivers in random or fixed order to control the colour variation in the yarn. The slivers can be long or short in length. Glitter can be separated from non-glitter, or drafted with a chosen colour.

Combining colours by drafting 2 blends or a solid colour and a blend together.

Bulky spinning: ply a blend with a fine cotton or wool - the fine yarn becomes nearly invisible leaving the wool colours standing pure.
You can try plying:
--  2 singles of the same blend 
--  2 singles of different blends
--  1 single of a blend and 1 single of a solid colour 
--  Navajo method of plying one single on itself 
--  singles spun by different methods as above 
--  3 singles of blends or solids, spun by the same or different methods
Combed fibres are parallel in the sliver and are easily spun (for beginners) with pre-drafting to loosen them. For end-drafting, the hands must be placed as far apart as the length of the fibre to keep the twist from running up into the fibre supply. 
When drafting from a sliver of combed fibres, check both ends of the sliver - the fibres will pull out more easily from one end than the other. 
Different spinning methods show less varied results with analagous colours close in value than with complementary colours or colours very different in value. 
Don’t be afraid of "barber poles" as they will occur within the single but will become beautiful colour spots when plied, giving a yarn of deep and rich colour. 
Happy Spinning!— Kim Fenton

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