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.

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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