Happy February! I am pleased to present the first installment of what I hope to be many sock yarns spun this year. As I have described extensively, the first chapter of studying color in sock spinning is all about analogous colourways. But these first few socks spins are going to be not-quite analogous. You might call them analogous-adjacent.
This is the “Phoenix Rising” colourway, by Sweet Georgia Yarns, on Superwash BFL. This was in the seconds bin, and I’m not sure quite why. For my purposes, it seems perfectly sound.
The first thing I did was to Unbraid it! And line it up to see how the dyer applied the dyes. This picture is terrible, I apologize, but you can at least see the pattern of color – red-orange-black-orange-red.
I didn’t try to evaluate this objectively, but it looked to me like the different colors in this braid had fairly high value contrast. Certainly from the brightest orange – a nice earthy, warm orange – down to the black, there was a fairly wide range. My hypothesis: I would not have to work very hard to preserve those colors, because the value difference will keep them from mixing too too much. So I chose two middly-mixty color handling methods, to see how they differed. Half I spun as a 3-ply fractal, and the other half as a traditional mixed-up 3-ply, the fiber moderately stripped. By mixed-up 3-ply, I mean that when I stripped the fiber and separated it into piles to be my three plies, I didn’t just have three strips all starting at one end of the braid and going to the other end. This would – at least theoretically – line the colors up in plying. I had one strip that was the length of the braid, then with the other two, I randomly pulled off a chunk and put it at the other end.
You can see that the fractal ended up much more blended. Oddly, this makes the skein overall look. darker. Now, there may have been more black in that half of the braid; I just broke it in half and didn’t pay attention to which half got more black. Oops. But whether or not the darker tone is an accident, the fractal definitely looks more mixed.
The thing about the Traditional-mixed-3ply method (boy, I need a shorter term for that, don’t I?) is that the randomness of the mixing means the colors will sometimes line up, and sometimes won’t. With the relatively wide strips, roughly 1/4 the width of the braid, when the colors line up, they line up for quite a while. It makes for more striping. If I stripped the braid to within an inch of its life and broke it into little pieces to spin totally randomly, theoretically I should get more mixing and less striping, right? Or at least tiny little stripes.
For both yarns, I stuck to a plain 3-ply construction. That’s all I’ve done so far. I spun the singles at 20:1, and put in as much ply twist as I could stand. The final twist angle is 45 degrees, which is pretty OK, I think? It’s pretty balanced after washing, just a hair overtwisted. Further evidence that it’s pretty tightly twisted: the grist. For a 19 WPI yarn, it’s 1311 YPP – pretty low. 19 WPI is maybe a little finer than necessary, but I guess that’s because the BFL didn’t puff up really – which is not just the breed, but the high twist.
Unfortunately, there’s not any way to test the wear on this yarn except by knitting them into socks and wearing them. And I just don’t have time for that right now. So I’m going to throw caution to the wind and keep spinning. (I hope you hear Dory in your head singing “Just keep spinning, just keep spinning…) I’ll have a handful of yarns done by the summer, which will be a good time for me to whip up some socks, then I can test them in the fall.
Have you started some sock spinning yet? How is it going? Please comment below, or in the Ravelry thread, or in Rachel’s Slack channel! Several of you are off to a running start, which is so awesome! I’m glad I’ve got such bright company exploring sock spinning!