8 and 9 of 51 Yarns: True Woolen and Worsted: Knit

This post is part of a spin-along through 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, in the Wool n’ Spinning community. For other posts in this series, check here.

Having prepped and spun these two examples of extreme worsted and woolen yarn, the last step was to knit them up.

The swatches produced exactly the fabrics you’d expect from the extreme worsted and woolen yarns I made. The woolen swatch is fuzzy, matte, and squishable; the worsted swatch is smooth, shiny, and springy. Using appropriate needle sizes for their two different diameters, I was able to produce fabrics in both that were relatively firm, relatively open, and in between. Perhaps because of the sproingy Targhee that dominated the blend, the worsted yarn seemed just as flexible with gauge as the woolen yarn.

So much for fabric. Let’s talk about color.

This is not part of the 51 Yarns study, but for the past eight months, the Wool n’ Spinning group has been doing breed and color studies with the color focus on adding black and white. I wasn’t able to participate in the last two rounds of fiber (for financial reasons and “good grief I already have so much fiber” reasons). But I found the topic fascinating: what happens when you add black or white to the same colors?

Two color studies ago, when we studied Targhee and some really bright carded fiber, Katrina offered two options: the carded nests, and some top dyed in the colors she used so you could card up your own blends. I bought both, spun up the nests over the summer, and saved the kit of tops for a rainy day.

That kit is what I blended with white Suffolk and black Corriedale to make these samples. Each blend was 2/3 total Targhee (8 solid colors) and 1/3 white or black. Here are both next to the cowl I knit from the original bright colors.

The differences are amazing. Of course, different techniques were also used to blend the colors in each instance, so the comparison is not really even, but you can get an overall impression.

All while working with the woolen sample, blended with white, I was thinking of Monet. The colors are still bright, but with the white in there they are just a little bit pastel, spring-like. Not in a babyish way, but in a mature, natural way. I’m sure that has as much to do with Katrina’s selection of colors as the addition of white.

The colors striped because of the way I blended and spun them. When carding, I made one layer of all the colors side by side, then a layer of white, then another layer of all the colors. I arranged the colors randomly. What I didn’t realize until carding is that the colors next to each other did not blend; only colors on top of each other blended together. This means that at any given point in a single, there are maybe two colors blended together with white. That’s just fine, but creates a very different point of comparison.

By contrast, combing blended the colors together much more completely, with very little effort. What impresses me is just how dark it became with only 1/3 black by weight. The dark swatch looks darker than the light swatch looks lighter, if that makes sense. Does it look so dark because the colors blended so much more? Or does it take less black to shade dark than it takes white to shade light? I know that’s true with paint; somehow it surprises me that it would be the same with fiber.

So far it’s been a wonderful experiment, and I look forward to continuing it next month with the semi- yarns.

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