Experimenting With Color

It's been killing me to have a drum carder and not be playing with it, but I vowed to wait until after I finished the stealth project. With that done, I could begin my new experiment, starting with this:

Unorthodox to card already beautiful, commercially prepared wool top, I know, but I wanted to play with color, and I didn't want to teach myself dyeing just yet. What you see is (L-R) 2 oz begonia, 1 oz blue ice, 3/4 oz khaki, and 1/4 oz peach.

My color selection was dictated largely by current stock at Weaving Works, which got cleaned out between the big Mother's Day sale and the LYS Tour.

The percentage breakdown, on the other hand, was sheer guesswork on my part.

The carding process itself isn't rocket science. You put the fiber on a tray and turn the handle, pulling the fiber under the "licker drum" (the small one) and distributing it onto the big drum. The machine does its thing. You add more fiber. Periodically you burnish the fiber on the carder, which smooths and compresses the fiber into the teeth so you can add more. And you wait to see what happens.

Okay, maybe you long-time fiber artists — or those of you who've been through MFA programs or color blending workshops — don't just wait and see because you already know how things will work together. Since I'm just figuring things out as I go, I wait and see! First batt off, and I'm liking what I see.

It's so darned cool! The next picture shows the first batt next to all the original roving. What a difference! How interesting! I'm hooked!

I originally intended to do the entire 4 oz at the exact same mix and had split down the top into four equal sections so I could do so. That's what you see in the batt above. But then I realized it would be much more interesting to experiment with gradations of the colors. So that's what I did.

I think the batts look like cotton candy!

The amounts of peach and ice blue stayed consistent throughout the four batts, but I varied the amounts of begonia and khaki in each. The top-left batt has no khaki and extra begonia. The bottom-right batt has half the normal amount of begonia and twice the normal amount of khaki.

Remarkable how much the colors get knocked down, no? Surprisingly tame. The picture above does a pretty good job showing the subtle color differences. What the pictures can't do, though, is show you how very, very fluffy and soft and wonderfully light these are!

As far as the spinning goes, I'm planning a 2-ply and will spin to keep the colors separated, tracking the gradation from the "khakier" one to the "begoniaier" one with maybe a little overlap at the transitions. Even though the color is perfect for my mom, I've promised this fiber to C. Once I see how much yardage I get, I'll decide for sure whether to make C a tank top or a skirt. We checked out some patterns on Ravelry this afternoon.

Before I could test-drive the drum carder (which works fantastically despite being nearly as old as me), I did need to pick up a couple other implements. Thanks to a recently arrived birthday check from J's aunt in Ohio, in combination with the 15% discount on total order card I got from Weaving Works on the LYS Tour, I was able to get a burnishing tool, a doffer stick, and a carder cleaning brush thing. You know the thing I mean... it's the flick-brush-type-tool with bent bristles that you use to clean fiber out of the carder fabric once the batt's been removed. I am now pretty well equipped for the carding process. Next time I'll try carding from locks!


juicyknits said...

It looks yummy! Cotton candy...

Anonymous said...

oh, that's very pretty. i think you are smart starting out with commercial top. i have a drumcarder that has not seen much action lately. i keep meaning to do what you've done here, but i just haven't gotten to it yet.

Elizabeth said...

Oh me too, me too... find me one of these to go with a spinning wheel and my new house. I know you don't have nearly enough things to do already, so I've decided you should be my very own personal shopper. What are you shopping for? Anything and everything fiberlicious...and don't forget the house!

Luv u loads and loads and loads, B-

Vtknitboy said...

Hi Z! nice blending! what fun. blending with colors is one thing to do, and another fun thing is blending various fibers for that "perfect" sock yarn--warmth, comfort, stretchability, and wearability. hmn... send me samples! chris--vtknitboy