How to Spin an Ombre Yarn

With Spinzilla a month behind us, I finally have found time to explain how I managed to blend two colors of bamboo fiber into a five-hue shift ombre yarn.

Ombre and gradient have been a particularly popular trend over the last couple of years. I decided that I wanted to hand blend my own long-color change ombre yarn. I chose a color scheme that was based slightly off of a sci-fi theme of black, teal blue and a hint of silver.

From left to right: Aegean Blue Bamboo, Silver Firestar, Black Bamboo

For this blend I used:
9 ounces of Ashland Bay Bamboo – Black
4 ounces of Ashland Bay Bamboo – Aegean Blue
Hints of Firestar – Silver

Because I didn’t want to have the same quantity of each color, I had to figure out how much of each one would be needed for each blend.

To do this I separated my black fiber into 1/2 ounce increments and started sorting them into five piles of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 lumps. (In other words, the group of 5 had five 1/2 oz lumps or 2 1/2 oz in this pile.) This left me with 1 1/2 ounces left of black fiber which I split evenly over the 5 piles.

I separated the blue fiber into 15 piles of approximately 1/4 ounces each. I separated these into a similar configuration. I put these two colors together with the smallest lumps of blue with the largest piles of black (i.e. 5 lumps of blue with the 1 lump of black).

Each black circle represents 1/2 oz of fiber, each black bar is about 1/3 oz of fiber.
Each blue circle represents about 1/4 oz of fiber. Each column
represents one of the 5 blends. See recipes below.

Here are the recipes for each blend:
Blend 1 – 2.8 oz black + ~.25 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 2 – 2.3 oz black + ~.5 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 3 – 1.8 oz black + ~.75 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 4 – 1.3 oz black + ~1 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 5 – .8 oz black + ~1.25 oz blue + pinch of firestar

I blended each batch approximately four times until I achieved a fairly homogenous mixture.

Blend number 1

I spun each batch on my Schacht-Reeves Spinning Wheel, which is perfect for finer spinning. I had some difficulty at first because it was my first time spinning bamboo. After I had spun each blend into singles, I navajo plied each batch on my Sidekick Spinning Wheel. (I keep my Sidekick set up with my bulky at all times, because it is perfect for plying.)

All 5 blends balled up

This set of recipes did result in less of blend of 1 and more of blend 5, but for my purposes, it was perfect. This yarn is destined to become a knit shawl, going from a beautiful teal, to a dark blackish blue.

Detail of the color gradient after winding all 5 skeins into a ball on a jumbo winder.

This process would work for any set of colors, but it is important to remember color theory in blending. If you mix colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, it can create a muddy mixture. Use our mini carders to test blend some fiber, just to see the possibilities!

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Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets.) His work can be seen in Handwoven, Spin-Off and the SIP Easy Weaving With Little Looms.