The Ninth Blendling: Tomato Bisque

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.

#9’s color selection came from Instagram, of all places. I was mostly through the archives of the Wool N Spinning blog and had caught up and made a nuisance of myself on many of the active topics of the Wool N Spinning Ravelry group, and I needed a different source of inspiration. I have never gotten into Instagram, though I had an account; I just didn’t see the point. It never tickled my funnybone to look at filtered selfies and sunsets, and my preferred self-expression on social media is witty verbage in a facebook status. But then Rachel mentioned #handspun. And oh boy. Instagram is basically made for yarn porn.

Late one night when I couldn’t sleep (see previous post about Big Work Thing – awesome and I’m actually not anxious about it but does not lend itself to sleep), I was scrolling through this new favorite feed when something unusual caught my eye. I found out later it was the Sweet Georgia Yarns January Club fiber, though the version I saw looked much warmer than those in the post I just linked to. What I saw was a handspun skein with a couple of tones of coral and sage in it. I kept staring at it, then realized I could do something like it. I was up in a trice.

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I would never have thought to put these together before that post, but as soon as I did, i was in love. Alone the pink looks salmony; in this mix it looks coral. The teals usually look really cool, but being put together with almost-a-complement, they are made to look more like the complement, and so give the impression of a light forest green. Way cool, eh? (I say “eh” now. Or “hey” since half my friends up here are from the Maritimes… I digress.)

I wasn’t sure how to pair them up: reds and greens together? Maximum value contrast in both? I went with putting the lightest and darkest values together, because it was late at night and I felt daring. When they were both spun up, I wasn’t sure I had made the right decision.

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Honestly they look kind of gross. But plied together, Wow.

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I am in love!

Here’s what happened: The light teal is actually a different fiber than all the rest of the color samples, so it’s hard to combo draft. This meant that the light teal and red took turns, and the red really popped in the final combination, being the darkest in value by far of the four colors. The medium teal and pink were pretty much the same value, and combo-drafted perfectly, so they blended into a pukey grey. But together, the teals had depth, and the pink played a supporting-role coral to make more sense of the red.

The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #9):

ply #1: 3 pink, 2 med teal
Spun semi-worsted: short forward draft w/ some twist in the fiber supply, left hand smoothing a little
ply #2: 2 red, 2 light teal
Spun more supported semi-woolen, right hand pulling back fiber supply, left hand supporting the twist and smoothing a little
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
1 treadles : 2″ approximate
Plied from two bobbins
Plying Ratio: 6:1
8 treadles : ~12″
S twist, Z plied

Yardage: 32 yd before finishing, 31 yd after finishing
Weight: .7 oz*
Appx. Grist: 709 YPP
TPI: 4.2 before finishing, 4.5 after finishing
WPI: 10 before finishing, 9 after finishing
Angle of twist: 38 degrees before finishing, 44 degrees after finishing

The spinning, too, was a serendipitous experience. I was starting to think, after changing it up a bit, that maybe my yarns were so dense not because of my drafting style per se, but because of the amount of twist I was putting in. I set myself to let my hands run by instinct a little more, only putting in as much twist as made sense in the moment. It changed a good bit, but by the end I was almost doing some kind of supported long-draw.

As I was starting this, I put on episode 54 of Wool N’ Spinning (which had just come out), where Rachel addresses exactly this topic. She has a finished spin of intentionally soft-spun singles that are tightly plied together, making the bouncy, rounded two ply I have been wishing for. Even using the same breed of sheep as I’m spinning (BFL)! She’s even talking about making a kid’s sweater out of it, so it can’t be too fragile? How fun to spin along, confirmed that I was on the right track.

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I’m getting the hang of making the right singles for 2-ply worsted weight, always using the previous yarn’s singles as a sample to match or deviate from. My grist was still pretty intense, but definitely closer to the mark. I think I’ve gotten used to putting a lot of twist in, so it turns out I didn’t loosen it up that much. Still… I’m on the right track; this is a great middle-of-the road yarn! I did break 700 YPP with the target WPI! And I am in love with these colors.

*I’m gradually upping the size of my samples. Most importantly, because I need time and yardage to get used to the changes in spinning I’m making, but also because it’s taking me longer to blog about each one than to spin it! I’m dreaming of putting them into a striped yoke, so it makes sense to have increasing quantities anyway.

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