The Fifth Blendling: Christmas Black

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

As I wrote about before, experimenting with color and improving my spinning is really an experiment in integration between intention and creativity. I find myself getting caught up in the intention sometimes, worrying about grist and yardage and wearability and so on. When that happens, I have to remind myself to relax and let it go. It’ll be what it’ll be; it’ll work out; it’ll be wonderful, even if it’s not what I expect.

And when I do that, a weird thing happens: colors start appearing in my brain. It’s just an image, impression, or idea. I don’t write them down, really. I just let them come and go, letting the beauty and interest visit for a moment, then rejoin the dance of Platonic forms.

But then, finally, one night, one of them was practical.

Out of my 10 spinnable colors, three of them are very dark: red, green, and a dark purple. Red and green being complements, it occurred to me that, if they were put together with a cooling influence like purple, they might blend into black. Up close, they would look like a complex blend of dark, passionate colors, but from a distance, they’d look like black.


That’s exactly what happened.


These are more my mom’s colors than mine, but I am in a profession where interesting ways to wear black are of very high interest. I could totally see wearing a sweater made of a colorway exactly like this.


The spinning, though, left something to be desired. On my previous attempt, my drafting-zone-man-handling made a yarn closer to my target 9 WPI than before, but it was still too thin. I could feel the singles go thick-and-thin on that last attempt; this time I tried to stick to the thicker end of what I was feeling.

This is how I figured out what spinners talk about when they say a yarn is “ropey.” It is dense. It’s half an ounce and 13 yards at 8 WPI (Aran gauge). That’s a grist of [math math math] 416 YPP, I think. Meaning, if I were to make a sweater for myself, it would be three or four pounds. (Normally I can knit myself a sweater from 1-1.5 lbs of worsted weight commercial yarn, depending on the style). I mean, it’s gorgeous (I think all my yarn is gorgeous, obvs), but you could rig a tall ship with it.

This all made me outlandishly happy. I have successfully found out a kind of drafting that gets a predictable result! Back to absorbing more research, and next time we’ll vary it a little bit!

The Nerd Numbers:

ply #1: 1 red, 1 dark purple, 1 green
ply #2: 1 red, 1 dark purple, 1 green
Spun worsted: both hands moving “airlock style,” as described previously
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
2 treadles : 2-3″ drafting zone
Plied from two bobbins
Plying Ratio: 6:1
8 treadles : 12″
S twist, Z plied

Yardage (before finishing): 13 yd
TPI: 4.6 (pre-finishing)
WPI: 8 (before and after finishing)
Angle of twist (before finishing):


Blendlings 1-5, relaxing after their glamour shots. They are all so different!

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