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 Blending colors for spinning
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damadedax
Warming Up

57 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2005 :  2:01:37 PM  Show Profile Send damadedax a Private Message
I bought 8 ozs each of purple, lilac, dark gray and light gray merino top. I wanted to blend these together (think ashland bay blends). I've tried drafting out small amounts of two colors and then spinning them together on my drop spindle (I haven't graduated yet to a spinning wheel), but it looks more like a barber pole effect than a blend. Does anyone have any advice on how to get a more blended effect? Do I need to buy carders? Do I need to buy a comb? They seem like very expensive tools. Any ideas would be great.

Thanks.

RoseByAny
Permanent Resident

USA
12598 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2005 :  2:03:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit RoseByAny's Homepage Send RoseByAny a Private Message
Carders or combs would be the best option (combs if you plan on keeping it as top) and they are expensive, but there are pet combs that can do much cheaper versions as well.

"Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable."
http://RoseByAny.BlogSpot.Com
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damadedax
Warming Up

57 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2005 :  5:46:34 PM  Show Profile Send damadedax a Private Message
RoseByAny--pet combs, now there is an idea. Do you mean the metal dog brushes or an actual straight comb? Sorry--I'm pretty clueless since I'm such a newbie. I've done some searching on the web and looking in books at the library, but haven't found anything on blending--maybe I'm not using the right verbage or looking under the right chapter.
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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2005 :  6:01:51 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Well - it will be difficult to do an ashland bay type of blend without the proper equipment. Combs will let you do what you're thinking of - but not dog combs. You need the sharp toothed ones that look like weapons.

Dog combs will help you prepare a lock for spinning - they are great untanglers, but they're not blending tools. When I teach the 4H girls how to use the fleece from the sheep they raise, I buy them dog combs. $1 is a great price for a great tool.

Since you're working with top already you could split them into very very thin lengths and lay one of every color together. Then pre-draft the fibers gently into a 4 color pencil roving. This you can wind into a ball for storage. With 4 colors you won't have quite a barber pole look.

Funny how many people don't like that look - I think it's delightful and it makes your knitted fabric look like tweed. But everyone has her own preferences.

If you are really just starting out - and you really truly want that ashland bay look - you probably ought to buy it outright.

To learn how to create your own streaky blends watch the excellent Deb Menz video "Fiber Preparation and Multi-Color Blending Techniques with Deb Menz". You can rent this video from Paradise Fibers or you might be able to borrow it from your public library. (My public library has both her videos)

Here's their website:

http://www.paradisefibers.com/videos/videoclub.asp

Good luck.


Bess
http://likethequeen.blogspot.com
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petiteflower
Chatty Knitter

USA
297 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2005 :  6:41:54 PM  Show Profile Send petiteflower a Private Message
I have held several colors of top in my hand and blended them as I draw. I set myself up by peeling off thin strips, oh about 1/2" in diameter and all of roughly equal length, from the balls of top I intend to blend. I then do some pre-drawing (pulling) while I'm holding them all together, not a ton though, it's not necessary to put that kind of time into it. Then I get to spinning, using the short draw technique. Some draws may only catch one color, but usually I'm catching 2 or 3. I work my way back and forth across the fiber supply, and I get a wonderful blending. It is not as heathery a blend as you get with Ashland Bay blends, you will get a bit more distinction between colors, but it is wonderful in it's own right. I don't always want the Ashland Bay degree of blendedness.

Another fun color thing I like to do with dyed fiber that I have hand carded: I will use 15 or more colors, say it's fall colors. I'll use several shades of orange, several of red, some of deep wine or maroon, maybe a bit of brown, some golds. I card up all my rolags, placing them into a cardboard box or big basket as I card. The rolags of each color will be all together. I count up how many rolags of each color I have and then I kind of figure out what I need to do to somewhat evenly distribute each color throughout the skein (I might have only 19 of deep gold, but there may be 54 of rusty orange etc.), so I jot down how many of each shade and I work it out on paper, sounds complex but it's not. Then I re-arrange the rolags in a big cardboard box in rows, mixing up the colors in the order in which they will be spun as I place them in the box. I enjoy this part of the project. If I don't get around to spinning it up right away, there it all is, waiting in it's rows of jumbled up colors along with the paper that tells me how many total rolags I have. For the spinning, I spin all of one rolag, pick up the next, spin it, and so forth. I get two bobbins full this way and then the fun of plying begins and watching the colors meet up with each other and sometimes their own self. The yarn is much much fun, makes wonderful stripey unpredictable-esque yet somehow integrated knitted items. Socks are awesome. Scarves and mittens too. Very unboring to knit with! This whole thing could be done with roving or top too. Just spin a few minutes with one then switch colors, keep on this way and use as many colors and shades as you want...
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damadedax
Warming Up

57 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2005 :  10:42:06 AM  Show Profile Send damadedax a Private Message
Thanks so much for all your helpful information. I'll have to give these techniques a try. I checked with our local library; they don't carry Deb Menz's video. I may have to get it through Paradise Fibers--thanks for the website. I ordered her book on fiber blending over a month ago from Amazon but they keep pushing back the delivery date. Now they're saying mid to late October for delivery. It's so hard to be patient!
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SpinaYarn
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
492 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2005 :  10:56:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit SpinaYarn's Homepage Send SpinaYarn a Private Message
If you are totally impatient, and can't find the dog/cat brushes to comb it together, then you might try taking short pieces (about 6 inches in length) of each fiber and lay them over each other then gently pull them apart and lay them back together again (repeat process a few times until blended the way you wish.) Makes for a long slow spin due to all the preparation, but it works.
If I'm looking for a random color effect in my spinning, I'll sometimes tear the rovings into short pieces, toss them in a bag and then reach in and grab one without paying attention to which omes when. Sounds silly, but often works!

knit with joy-
Teyani

www.http://intrepidfiberwizard.blogspot.com/
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spinningbunny
Warming Up

USA
57 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2005 :  5:17:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit spinningbunny's Homepage Send spinningbunny a Private Message

There is an excellent chapter on blending with hackles and combs in Deb Menz' Color In Spinning. Is that the one you're waiting for? If you want it sooner the Woolery usually has it but at full price.
I too enjoy the randomness of blending right at the wheel and agree that the barber poling is a neat effect. I like it both as it becomes a single and how it knits up plied.

and I just cannot resist-- I am an Ashland Bay dealer. I love their blends so if you want professionally blended combed tops check out my site.

Namaste,
<http://www.spinningbunny.com>
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celia
Permanent Resident

Australia
2454 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2005 :  6:19:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit celia's Homepage Send celia a Private Message
If you don't need to keep it as top, try using carders. I have blended with hand carders and it works, but the end result is a rolag of sorts

celia

My blog is here:
http://celiaknits.blogspot.com
I am destashing here:
http://celias-basket.blogspot.com/
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Shemac
Chatty Knitter

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2005 :  2:55:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shemac's Homepage Send Shemac a Private Message
I too love the way the "barber pole" yarns knit up into a tweedy yarn. Much of my business is based on this type of fiber preparation. I hand dye the wool, then card it in layers before it is put in roving form. There is a picture on my blog (Oct.11th entry) of a single and how it looks when knit. You can see the yarn beside the knit swatch.


Sheila
My Fiber Shop:www.eweniquefiber.com
My Blog: http://eweniquefiber.blogspot.com
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damadedax
Warming Up

57 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2005 :  2:05:45 PM  Show Profile Send damadedax a Private Message
Sheila--beautiful swatch. Love the colors. I broke down and bought some carders. I tried the various methods suggested above--I don't think the colors I'm working with lend themselves to those techniques. The color contrast between the purple and lilac, light gray and dark gray is too much. But I love the tweedy effect I'm getting with the carders. I think they were a good investment.

Now I just have to save up for a wheel. I'm renting an Ashford Kiwi from my guild--I'm enjoying in town for wheels (I'm in Anchorage, AK)and she sells the Schachts. I tried one out and enjoyed it very much. Just seems like soooooo much money. I'm going to a spinning group this coming Saturday and hopefully there will be a few wheels to try out. We'll see.
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Shemac
Chatty Knitter

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2005 :  1:07:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shemac's Homepage Send Shemac a Private Message
Thanks, Demadedax.
So how is the wheel search going?

Sheila
My Fiber Shop:www.eweniquefiber.com
My Blog: http://eweniquefiber.blogspot.com
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Lanthir
Warming Up

USA
54 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2005 :  3:19:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lanthir's Homepage Send Lanthir a Private Message
I tried carding different colours together for the first time this morning, and it was delightful! One of the most fun things I've done in a while, really.

"And we shall call it 'This Land'"
Firefly
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damadedax
Warming Up

57 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  8:43:16 PM  Show Profile Send damadedax a Private Message
I tried out a Lendrum at the saturday spinning group. I liked the feel of it. I'm not much of a shopper and just plain impatient. I decided to go for the complete DT Lendrum from the Woolery. I still sort of wish I could go with the Schatt which I still favor--for some reason I really like the look and it seems so solid (not that it spun that much different from the Lendrum for me), but that would be an extra $300+. The Lendrum is already a stretch. So there you have it. Of course the wheel is on backorder but they hope to get them in around the second week of November. Hopefully by the end of November I will be spinning on my new wheel. Hopefully I will have the Deb Menz color spinning book by then too. In the meantime I'm enjoying the Ashford Kiwi I'm renting from the guild.

Thanks for asking.
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