Tweed Chronicles: Odds & Ends Blends

I have been in a binge of preparing fiber,  attempting to clear out and make yarn from all the little bits of  fiber odds and ends I have in my closet. With this batch I am refining my “one + one” blending method, where I blend a batt on my blending board, then blended that batt to another batt, and so on (original one + one tutorial)   Also, using hand mix method (original Handmix tutorial) to divide up the batts with new fiber helped me get everything fairly equally portioned, and I just kept adding while the batts were building and then the final brush strokes of accent.  Here’s how it all stacked up and blended together, pretty much exactly . . .

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Techy Stuff for Odds & Ends #2, entirely on blending board.

  1. Beginning with 21g of a BFL hand-dyed braid, I mixed together on the blending board, and the blue, yellow, green, orange, red all turned into a mix of dull dark brown = batt #1 — see color saturated neutral tutorial here.
  2. To the batt#1 color mix I blended with about 30g of some (what I think was) Rambouillet white wool that was in the mystery bag of fiber = 1+1 batt #2 = 51g.
  3. To batt #2 I blended with 97g white alpaca = [1 + 1] + 1 batt #3 = 148g.
  4. To batt #3 I blended with 80g part braid of blue-faced-Leicester/Shetland/Manx blend which was tan and white wools = [[1 + 1] + 1] + 1 batt #4 = 228g — shown in the big fluffy beige batt below. 
  5.  I brushed on to blending board 72g part braid of Malabrigo Nube (Merino) in colorway “Solis” (blues & greens) for a batt to mix in. 
  6. To batt #4 I mixed in the teal batt = [[[1 + 1] + 1] + 1] + 1 batt # 5 = 300g. 
  7. Last brush streaks of ‘turquois veins’ = topaz bamboo. 
  8. Pulled off rolags!

Notes:

  • Making batts of all the fibers first, which is kind of like combing them and making them easier to blend on the blending board with the next fiber, sequencing the process with another fiber, then another, instead of all fibers at once. This homogenizes the first fibers more and more throughout.
  • After batt #3 I decided to not blend in the 30g of white Cheviot or extra (much coarser) 72f BFL blue-green hand-dyed braid, and left it at the 300+ grams batt #5.  Batt #5 got two blendings on my blending board, in attempt to finer homogenize the colors, but it became and overwhelming project at 300g total, and I still had the last brushings of color to do, before drawing off rolags. I am considering getting a wool picker for future big projects! 
  • Final blend I added about 10g of bamboo in color “topaz” for the gold streaking affect, thinking I might end up with a look of veined turquoise. However, I can never tell until the final handspun is finished and plied before I can be certain.  

Watch this space for the spin-up of these lovely rolags. 

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Oh yeah…

the Odds & Ends #1 batch that is all spun up and I almost forgot about!

I actually did forget to post this, from weeks ago the finishing of the project, and it was the first of my Odds & Ends series of stash-busting projects. It is Early Morning Blend from inauguration day. has finally been spun & plied.   This also is the first on-purpose bulky weight yarn I have made that I can remember, in all the years that I’ve been spinning; that is, not accidental or “it is what it wants to be” kind of handspun. I have pretty much a default thickness of yarn I spin now, so, needing some bulky weight yarn to knit up a little something, it occurred to me to ply 3 together of the singles bobbins that were storing in my wool closet. I absolutely am raving about on-purpose 3-ply, as it makes a very balanced round yarn. Which incidentally, is ideal for textured knitting. Hmm, maybe next I shall cast on for the smallest size of my latest Fisher Vest, hoping I don’t run out of yarn!

Nep Clouds

jenjoycedesign© nep cloud premix

Hey look, nep clouds !  These are premixes from my new hand carders, and will be blended in with a main fiber on blending board next.  They can also be spun ” in cloud ” , made into rolags from the hand carders, or can get layered on the blending board to build up a more complex visual texture. I will try a few methods to see what gives the most pleasing results (for me).  For ages I have been thinking about how to go about spinning tweed yarn with colorful neps,  and how to achieve the affect I want using the yarns I have in my stash.  I am rather fixated on designing a yarn which has the characteristic flecks of color that pop in the final spinning, as in the traditional rustic spun from Ireland and British Isles. Anyway, this is a part 1 of a several neppy posts, and as is customary in my Tweed Chronicles.  Here’s the techy stuff .  .  . 

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Techy Stuff . . .

  • Decide the background color for your yarn that you want the tweedy neps to be imbedded in (shown in white Rambouillet) and brush lightly on to each carder, to encase the nepps so they don’t fly all over the place.
  • Choose yarn colors you want nepps to be (shown green in Cascade Ecological Wool, and light blue Alafosslopi). Take considerable thought to how these colors will not only work together, but how the nep premix will work with the main fiber, which may be further layered more heavily on the blending board, before making rolags or batts. 
  • For my first experiment I cut little bits of yarn, at least 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces, on to the fiber loaded bottom carder, my only thought at this point about how long to cut, is I think the snippets have to be long enough to get pulled into twist or they’ll just fly off, and you’ll have shedding bits of color everywhere.   It doesn’t take much to make a statement, and not wanting to over-do the neps, go lightly first trial, I just added a sprinkle– one could certainly go heavily in this step for a very flecked appearance — remember, when plied, the nep color flecks will double in number.  
  • Card, lift, repeat, until the yarn pieces have broken down and blended a little into the fiber and become a little frayed and “fuzzy”. Neps that are not pulled through the teeth in the carders will likely fly off when spinning having no loose fibers to help the neps stick,  so make sure the clouds are carded well & fully, and that all the little cut pieces are at least a little pulled apart a little.
  • I have made a separate cloud for each color, only two, but I should think as many colors together per cloud will be my next experiment. Here’s a little how-to slideshow of what I did ( click 1st image in mosaic below to see steps. )  See next step Nep Clouds 2, where I make a nep batt on the blending board.
  • Alternatively, if one does not own hand carders, one could ‘fray the yarn’ by combing with an eyebrow or mustache comb, or pet brush, then snip on to the blending board in between the layers. 
  • See all posts Nep Clouds.
  • See all posts archived in Tweed Chronicles

Wool carders, and an anniversary.

I have got an almost new pair of Schacht hand carders, for a great bargain, from someone who didn’t need or want them anymore, practically a gift.  These are an essential part of my blending experiments past and future! Rather a coincidence as before I had a nice pair of  carders given to me decades ago, along with a splendid drop spindle, from someone who couldn’t use them. Now that I think about it, that was the chance reason I started spinning in the first place. 

Little sentimental pieces of my creative life are falling into place,  one re-acquisition at a time, and I think I am fully kitted now, having all the bare essential tools of the trade.  Anyway, as creative energy slowly returns, so do lists of ideas, rolling out on the straight and narrow progressing path,  in patient commitment to my knitting & spinning,  and sharing the process here on my blog.  

Speaking of this blog, I want to mention that it was ten year anniversary a couple of days ago, when I started this WordPress blog  with this first post ( soon thereafter I transferred all the relevant earlier dated posts from another blog I had)   and ever since I have truly been immersed in what it has become, documenting my life and my creative endeavors,  things and details which may have otherwise been forgotten.  

I love blending colors and fibers , even more than spinning, and almost as much as knitting! The reason I wanted a pair of wool carders is because I hope to pre-blend some color and tweedy neps before layering on my blending board, as I have learned that my jumbo sized board really is a work of labor to load and reload, quite exhaustive for fine tuning blends. Sometimes I have to lift and reblend the 50g batts three or four times before it is nicely homogenized, then multiply that by about 10 to make 500g, it becomes a serious amount of work. So I am thinking about using hand carders to premix parts of the blend, and curious to see if I can have more control over the results as well as save myself a lot of effort.  Coming up– premixes from the hand carders to layer into a fully loaded blending board project — watch this space!