Adventures in Blending Fiber – Benjamin Krudwig
Recently, I watched the Deb Menz videos on blending fiber to achieve different colors, and have since been blending fibers together just to see what will happen. I received some Americana fiber from Louet in colors I don’t normally use. With my background in studio arts, I have a pretty good grasp of color mixing. However, it is always an adventure when it comes to blending colors in fiber.
Roving, and some blended fiber in the upper corner
I carded the roving together, and got a roughly blended batt of a mottled purple. I spun a sample to see if I liked it. For me, the color was still too red, and not blended enough. I also found the resulting yarn to be a little pale.
Initial batt of fiber
Sample of first blend
I searched my fiber stash to see what I could do, and found some black alpaca and maroon corriedale. I knew these fibers would darken the tone and make it more of a jewel color. At this point, I decided a little bit of sparkle fiber, also from Louet, would do the trick of elevating the fiber from mediocre, to elegant and stunning.
By the time I finished, I’d carded the fiber a total of four times. Once in the beginning with just the original roving, a second time with the new colors added in, then I split the batts and carded to fully homogenize the fiber two more times.
I spun another sample just to make sure I liked the finished product. I loved the result, so I continued with the spinning process. I had just recently received a Schacht Reeves wheel when I finished carding the fiber, which inspired me to attempt spinning my very first lace-weight yarn.
Once I’d spun half of the batts, I plied the singles for a 2-ply yarn and ended up with over 450 yards of lace weight yarn. The finished yarn was highly energetic with a lot of twist. After spending as much time as I had, I decided I should swatch to accurately decide what medium I would choose for the final project.
After making my swatches I had pretty strong opinions about each medium.
The crochet swatch was too chunky feeling with a disorganized look.
The woven swatch was more organized, but the energy in the yarn caused the finished fabric to be crepe-like in nature, with a hint of crinkle. This could be fine for some uses, but it wasn’t the look I was going for.
The knit swatch ended up being my favorite. It had the organization the crochet swatch lacked, and didn’t have the tendency to crinkle when finished. Then I was off an knitting my lace shawl which I accented with silvery beads.
Back of Shawl
Detail of Lace
I started the initial blending of the fiber on April 15th, and finished the shawl this last Friday. Overall I am very happy with the yarn and the resulting project. This experience allowed me to experiment with fiber and technique, and yet it all came out wonderfully. I hope this post inspires you to play around with blending.