28 of 51 Yarns: Fractal Arctic Berries

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. I discussed these particular yarns on the Wool n’ Spinning podcast when I was a guest on episode 142. Fast forward to 40:33 to see this segment.

It’s day seven of self-isolation here. We’re all a little stir crazy, and the news makes us sad, but I’m going to keep posting these. It’s a reminder of beauty, and it’s a little distraction.

At least we got outside for a little bit yesterday!

This exploration of colour continues with one of my favorite ways to mix colours in handspun: fractals! I’ve seen it lots, but have only actually made one before, and now I’m keen to do more.

A fractal yarn is a plied yarn, made from singles with different lengths of the same repeat of colour. Put another way: one single would be spun from a wide strip, meaning longer lengths of each colour: the next single from a narrower strip, and (assuming a 3-ply) the next from a still narrower strip. This means that you get to see all the combinations of colours, and that marling and striping are balanced in a unique look.

I just love the look of this colorway mixed up in this way. The most interesting thing to me about it is how dark it looks overall. The purple and blue are the smallest colour blobs on the braid, but their powers combine in the fractal to give an overall dark blue/purple look.

Top bobbin is long repeats, middle is very short repeats, bottom is medium repeats.
A very blue-purple overall look.

Something Rachel pointed out while we were doing her podcast (linked at the top of this post) is how, if you look at it just so, you can see all three stripes layered on top of each other. Putting the fractal swatch next to the traditional 3-ply highlights this.

The fractal is on the right. There is red overall because in this section of the yarn, red was in the singles with the longest repeat. The medium-colour-length singles, however, match the traditional 3-ply: green in the middle, red at top and bottom, purple/blue in the middle. I can’t pick out the fast striping of the short-colour-length singles, but I know it’s there, muting or reinforcing whatever else is going on.

I love what this mixing does to the colors. In a more brightly coloured braid, the mixing would have a different effect, but in arctic berries it’s just subtle and pleasing. I’m so looking forward to knitting this yarn into a sock!

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