The Seventh Blendling: Love Me Blue

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.


I asked N, “what color should my next sample be?” And she promptly replied, “blue!” Blue is her favorite color, so this was no surprise, but I hadn’t yet tried to use the blue color as the main one in a blendling yet. Blue, this is for you.

I wanted to keep the value constant, but just see what happened when I pulled the hue one way and then another. So I added a bit of dark teal to one ply (above left) and a bit of bright purple to the other (above right. In the flash picture they look rather the same).


The two plies were quite similar, and the final effect is subtle. In the singles, the contrasts have a strong influence in the blend, making it look tealy-blue and purpley-blue. Put together, though, they counteract each other, so it just looks like basically the same blue with lots of cheerful interest. Which, handily, is what I was going for!


As far as the spinning goes, I tried to relax slightly this time. I realized that my very first blendling was actually the poofiest – what was I doing differently? Well, I wasn’t paying attention. That’s… not really helpful. I do know that I was drafting by instinct. So let’s try that: relax a bit and see what my hands actually want to do, but still put the same amount of twist in.

Um, I discovered I was pretty much lying to myself about what my default drafting style is. My default drafting style is: spin in whatever way is fastest while paying no attention, and don’t bother being consistent. What really happens is, I start with a short backwards draw, slowly letting the twist into the fiber supply as I gain confidence and speed up, until at some point I’m practically doing a supported long draw.

I didn’t go that far this time: I just tried to stick with the first stage, the short backwards draw, while still trying to do what I did with the last skein, and control the amount of fiber going into the drafting zone to make the right weight.


The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #7):

ply #1: 2 blue, 1 bright purple
ply #2: 2 blue, 1 dark teal
Spun worsted: short forward draw, allowing a little twist into the drafting zone, left hand smoothing.
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
2 treadles : 2″ approximate
Plied from two bobbins
Plying Ratio: 6:1
8 treadles : ~12″ (measured my plying “length” later and found it was probably more like 10″)
S twist, Z plied

Yardage: 16 yd before finishing, 15 yd after finishing
Weight: .5 oz
Appx. Grist: 480 YPP
TPI: 3.5 before finishing, 4 after finishing
WPI: 9 before finishing, 8.5 after finishing
Angle of twist (before finishing): 45 degrees

It didn’t work. I’ve achieved the diameter of yarn I’m going for, by WPI, but the grist was only slightly improved.


It was around this time that I watched Welford Purls’ video on making sample cards. Almost as a passing comment, she mentioned that you can adjust the thickness of yarn by adjusting the wheel’s uptake.

I hadn’t been doing this. I had been trying to control the thickness by manually controlling the amount of fiber in the drafting zone so precisely. That meant I was spinning by eye rather than by feel. You can look at a single, but looking at a drafting zone? That seems silly. I was basically forcing myself to ask the question, “what does a worsted weight drafting zone look like?” It just wasn’t working.

It’s time to change up my draft drastically again.

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