Handspun Dyed Roving Explorations on the Zoom Loom

Handspun Dyed Roving Explorations on the Zoom Loom

By Jillian Moreno

Just about every time I finish sampling dyed roving or top and knit a swatch, I wonder what it would look like woven.

This week I finally gave in to my curiosity. I spun some divine Shetland from Into the Whirled, colorway: Element Number Five into a singles yarn and a 2-ply yarn. Then I knit a swatch and wove swatches on my Zoom Loom. It made my head explode a little with ideas and more questions. I think this bit of swatching has started a new fascination with weaving variegated fiber.

I started with the singles yarn first. The yarn, as a variegated singles, has long color runs, not broken by marling with another ply. I knew what would happen with knitting, but I had no idea what weaving would look like.

singles yarn

I knit a swatch in stockinette and it made wonderful clear stripes, just as I expected. But when I wove the yarn on the Zoom Loom it was something else entirely. First, I was frustrated because the colors didn’t change much in a single square. Truthfully, I almost abandoned the experiment. But instead, I wove two more swatches. I just tossed the Zoom Loom in my bag and carried it around on waiting errands for a couple of days, and poof, the squares were done. The colors didn’t change much in a single square, but they change and flow between squares. When I put the squares in order, I said “uh oh” out loud because I knew that I was standing on the edge of a new rabbit hole.

singles knitted and swatched on Zoom Loom

I can see in the woven swatches, looking top to bottom, how the yarn went from light blue (with a single hit of blue-purple), to light blue, purple, dark pink and even some dark orange in the middle, to light blue and purple in the third. I didn’t pay attention while I was winding on the loom or weaving how I was laying down the colors. Next time I would photograph every layer through the winding on and weaving process, so I could better follow what the color is doing. I really want to weave through a whole 4 ounces of singles and make something with my squares that show the progression. Then of course I would add a little bit of knitted fabric too, as a textural and chromatic counterpoint.

I managed to pull myself away from the weaving with singles rabbit hole to knit and weave with 2-ply yarn. I spun the fiber randomly with no planning, so it matches in some spots and marls in others.

With the 2-ply I was surprised to see that the knitting and weaving look similar-ish in their swatches. The weaving is more speckled due to how the cloth is made, but it is a great complement to the knitted cloth, I really like how they look together. My head is dreaming up a pattern or two for this combination.

2-ply Zoom Loom square and knitted swatch

I find it interesting that the swatches woven on the Zoom Loom don’t stripe because of the combination of layers and longer color runs, even in the two ply, when the colors are much shorter. If I want to play with the striping of handspun, variegated yarn, I’ll have to turn to my Cricket loom. Uh oh.

Still curious about spinning and knitting dyed roving and top? My new book Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want has a lot of tip and ideas to explore.

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