So, in January, a few things happened. A) I ordered the Breed and Color study fiber from Katrina. It was a pre-order, and the fiber wouldn’t arrive for a while. This meant that B) I was kinda out of fun money. C) I wanted to spin for socks in analogous colors, and I wanted some play fiber to experiment with while I waited for the BnC fiber. So D) I put out a general call on the Ravelry spinners marketplace offering to trade qiviut for hand-dyed wool braids. E) I got a great response, which resulted in me spending much of January and February first picking and then cleaning three pounds of qiviut. F) My trade-buddies send wool to my mom, who brought it up with her in February, and I send qiviut back with her to mail. G) I ended up in possession of a pound and a half of new-to-me wool, among them these two beauties.
These are two braids of Superwash BFL in the colourway Geode from Sunshine studios. I was super-stoked to get these, because even though they don’t qualify as analogous because they go all the way from green to purple, they’re a perfect candidate for separating into two analogous colorways, with plenty for a pair of socks in each.
So, I unbraided them.
The first thing I realized was that there was much more purple than green. It was not difficult to separate out 3 oz of blue-to-purple with no green; it was harder to get 3 oz of blue-to-green with no purple. In the end I set aside 1.5 oz with really no purple, and 1.5 oz with just a titch of purple. The rest was set aside for a combo spin.
I started with the blue-to-green-plus-purple-bits. Those purple bits got swallowed up pretty thoroughly, and there wasn’t that much green in these chunks, so this became the blue-green to blue-purple skein. That’s still just a quarter of the color wheel, so I’m counting it as analogous! I spun it as a traditional 3-ply.
For the blue-to-green skein, also a traditional 3-ply, I stripped the pieces into narrower strips. The pops of green show up much more, and the overall color reads more as blue-green than the grey-blue of the first skein.
The whole braid was dyed in blobs of color that are decidedly shorter than the staple length of the fiber, so there are short runs of color with lots of blending. In a colorway that ran the spectrum, this would lead to muddying. You see this more in the first skein, where the overall impression is more grey-blue. But in the truly analogous colorways, the hues stay a bit more true, and it reads more as a complex semi-solid. You’ll see that more below.
For the blue-to-purple half of the fiber, I tried a new construction for the first time: the opposing-ply. Non-spinner-friendly explanation: Normally, you spin the singles of your yarn in one direction, and then ply them together in the other direction, so the twist balances out. In an opposing-ply yarn, you spin just one of those singles in the same direction that you will ply. So in your finished yarn (a 3-ply in this case), two of the plies are balanced, and one has all this built up energy. This supposedly adds elasticity to the yarn.
Spinner friendly section over. I spun all these yarns at a 30:1 ratio for the singles, 20:1 for the plying. However, I regularly ran into drive band slippage issues at 30:1. But often I don’t notice, because even with slippage, the 30:1 whorl still goes pretty fast when slipping! Maybe 15:1 or so. I think my hands compensate somewhat by drafting less, but there must be less twist in those sections. So that throws everything off. I need to pay closer attention to that. All of these yarns have plenty of ply twist, so that’s good. But relatively soft-spun singles are a problem; tightly twisted singles are part of the calculus of making hard-wearing sock yarn. These softer singles also make an already imbalanced yarn even more imbalanced!
As I was plying, the opposing single tightened, since I was spinning in the same direction, while the other two plies opened up and fluffed. Often these other plies wanted to wrap around the opposing ply, rather than wrap evenly with them. I fought this as much as possible, but there’s still lots of texture in sections.
These purple opposing-ply yarns have lots of energy. Unwashed:
With that same energy put into twisting the skein before washing:
I could cable this yarn no problem. Washing took some of the twist out, but even washed, snapped, and fully dried, there’s a lot of curly-cueing.
Part of the issue is the fiber; this is superwash BFL. BFL doesn’t have a lot of crimps per inch, so it doesn’t take a ton of twist. Even the blue-green skeins have curly-cues here and there. When you add that to the complication of the opposing-ply constructions, and my drive band slippage issues, it’s like the fiber just said “nope” and bent around itself rather than take the twist.
These might be “just plain overtwisted” as Rachel says in her radio podcasts, but being superwash, they might also lose some of that extra twist with time. Even if they don’t, maybe that extra twist will help with wear. So I’m going to let them be, and see what kind of socks they make.
I did handle the colors slightly differently between the two purple skeins. For one, I split the top into three strips and attempted to line up the colors in plying. For the other, I spun chunks of fiber across the top. As usual, these color differences won’t really be noticeable until I knit them up. The across-the-top skein reads as a little more purple; maybe because the blue sections were swallowed up by being plied with purple rather than being matched up? Or maybe there was just more blue in the chunks that went into that skein?
These are going into the knit-up-on-vacation pile. I can say now that we are taking an RV trip during the month of May, and that’s when I’m planning to have a handspun sock knitting spree. The lady who traded me these braids is a paleontologist, so I may have to knit these up while we’re in Drumheller, Alberta, where there’s tons of dinosaur stuff!
Cheers, and happy spinning!