Sunday, June 09, 2024

Questionable Blend number 5 - Loriini

I’m writing a blog series this year, sharing several different ways of spinning commercially available, multicoloured blended tops. I’ve tried to choose blends that contain colours from more than half of the colour wheel.  The kinds of blends that are a little tricky to guess immediately how they’ll spin up.

I’ll be using the word questionable to describe any blend that would cast doubt in the mind of even the most experienced spinner. A blend that would cause you to pause before ordering it and question how it might turn out.  

Novice spinners are regularly attracted to the bold, multicoloured stripes of a vertically blended top, but are frequently left disappointed when their beautiful combed top turns to mud on the wheel.  In this series, I’ll be sharing quite a few techniques that can help to reduce the amount of optical blending during spinning so that some of those original colours still show up in the final yarn.  By the end, the tops will almost certainly not be questionable.


Images reproduced by kind permission of World of Wool

The 5th blended top in this series is Loriini.  I absolutely love this blend when it’s spun up!  I love it so much that I bought an extra 300g of it and used it to compete in Spin Together, so I have to confess that I spun most of the following yarns back in February. 

Images reproduced by kind permission of World of Wool

Here are the bamboo colours within Loriini.  I originally chose it because I imagined that the red and green shades in this blend are highly likely to blend together into brown, but I couldn’t guess just how muddy it might turn out.

When I opened the package of Loriini top I was surprised by how red it was, and the green in the top looks a lot darker than I expected.  It appears a lot more orange on the website.

I spun 8g of Loriini to see how it looks when I allow the colours to optically blend together.  I just drafted it out and then spun it from the tips.  I then chain-plied it at the wheel to achieve a 3-ply yarn.  

I arranged all the yarns from the blends I’ll be spinning in this series, into a kind of muted gradient and I’ll be spinning them in this order.  They have all been spun with no attention paid to colour management, they’ve simply been pre-drafted, spun, and then chain-plied. 

Loriini when the fibres have simply been drafted and spun from the tips

Of all the sample yarns I spun, this one really stood out as a definite favourite.  I loved the combination of the beautiful, glossy sheen on the surface of a deep, heathered, rusty red.  Along with the drape and weight of the bamboo, this made for a stunning yarn.

I was keen to see how it would look when I applied a little colour management.

All of the yarns in this series will be spun on my Electric Eel Wheel 6 - This is an affiliate link and if you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you. Any income from my blog goes a small way towards funding future blog projects.

Spinning Loriini 4 Different Ways

Spun From the Fold

This is my first time spinning 100% bamboo so I did a little reading around to find out how other spinners approach it. I read a couple of people saying that it's easier to spin bamboo from the fold so I gave that a try first.

I managed to spin quite a bit from the fold but this was my least favourite method for bamboo.  The fibres are so short and slippery that it was tricky to hold them all together over my finger.  You get the best colour definition when you spread the fibres out along your finger, but this just caused them to separate from each other.  Also, when you spin from the fold, you need a very gentle grip on the fibres but this was also causing me to lose control of them and I had to keep repositioning them in my hand.  Combined with the fact that the fibres seem to want to fall apart at any opportunity, this is not a technique that I would personally recommend for bamboo - especially for beginners.

Despite the name, bamboo is a regenerated cellulose fibre, and is manufactured using chemical processes similar to other rayon fibres.  The bamboo fibres that I spun were all pretty identical in length and were fairly short.  I'd be intrigued to find out if it's possible to buy bamboo with a longer staple length but this definitely influenced the spinning methods that worked best for me.

I spun a fair amount from the fold but decided I wouldn't be using this technique for Spin Together as I found it a little slow and took quite a bit of concentration.

Like most yarns spun from the fold and then chain-plied, the final yarn had a lot of barber poling going on and it was quite busy with all-over flecks of colour.  From a distance, it’s a very pretty but subtle yarn. 

Splitting the top vertically

I quite enjoyed spinning from vertical strips of Loriini.  When I drafted it out earlier, opening the fibres up a little made the bamboo fibres want to drift apart.  Just tearing strips of colour off the side of the top was a really simple way of showing off those warm, autumnal colours within Loriini.

I didn't arrange my nests of bamboo in any particular order, I just tried to make sure that I was spinning from a different set of colours every time to give my yarn a little variation.

As Loriini is quite well blended, the colour variations in the singles were very subtle…

… but separating the colours a little did freshen the colours in the final yarn quite a bit.

This was a much more enjoyable spin than spinning Loriini from the fold, and the visible difference was quite striking.

Rolags on a Blending Board

I love this method for spinning multicoloured blended tops, but it took a little trial and error to work out the ratio of top sections : number of rolags that worked best for me.

I found that if I made the bamboo rolags too thin, the fibres were so short and slippery, they just fell apart before I'd even had a chance to spin them.

I eventually landed on the combination of placing 3 lengths of top on the blending board... 

and then rolling off 2 thick rolags.

This gave me lovely solid rolags that held together well.

However, when you try to spin from thick rolags, the fibres have a tendency to bunch together, or tangle, so I pre-drafted the rolags to give me a kind of variegated bamboo pencil roving.  Drafting the fibres from the end of a rolled-up blending board rolag also naturally adds a slight twist which does help to hold the fibres together a little.

When I've done this with wool fibres in the past, I've rolled the roving into a neat little ball to spin from.  I would not recommend doing that with bamboo; it would just drift apart too often and become very frustrating to work with.

The solution I came up with was to draft all of the fibres out onto a tray that I kept in my lap while I spun.  That way, I wasn't pulling on the roving at all, and if I needed to move, I could just lift up the tray and relocate myself with the delicate fibres still intact.

Again, this was a much more enjoyable spin than spinning from the fold and gave me much longer colour sections.

The final yarn was quite similar to the one spun from vertical strips but the colour transitions were slightly smoother.

Gradient on a blending board

The last time I tried this method I decided it was so time-consuming that it was only really suited to the smallest of spins.  However, I love the Loriini fibre so much, that I wanted to see how it would look if I made more of an effort to separate out those reds and oranges and had them sitting next to the darker optically blended hues.

I was also planning on entering this yarn into Spin Together’s Most Beautiful Yarn category so I knew that I needed to spin at least 100g of it.

As the Loriini top is quite well-blended, and the bamboo fibres have a tendency to drift apart, it would be much too frustrating to pull out each colour section individually.  Instead, I opted for a more complex gradient.  

I broke off 4 blending board lengths of fibre, intending to cover the whole board in 2 layers of the same gradient.

So, starting on the right of the board, I placed mostly reds and yellows, followed by mostly red, then mostly red and green...  By the time I got to the right of the board, I was placing large groups of colours that were just too tricky or tedious to separate out anymore.

Once the board was full with the two lengths, I brushed it all down and started again.

Here are the second two sections of blended top ready to be brushed down.

It's worth noting that I needed to brush the bamboo down in tiny little sections.  Working from the very bottom and brushing slowly from left to right, I inched my way up the blending board.

This time, I rolled off 3 quite thick rolags.

I think these might be the most beautiful rolags I've ever made!

From a distance, they looks like a tray full of cinnamon rolls!

These rolags needed to be drafted out as I'd built them up in layers and some sections were a lot thicker than others.

I took quite a few photos of the different gradient layers as the bobbin filled.  It was captivating!

I alternated the end that I spun each rolag from, so, if I finished on a darker end, I began the next rolag on the darker end and vice versa.

Here's the final chain-plied yarn...

... and this was my entry photo for the Spin Together, Most Beautiful Yarn competition. 

I’m overjoyed to say that it won first place!  It really was a labour of love.

I love how much longer those red/orange colour sections are, but the colours still have a heathered complexity to them.

This yarn will feature heavily in the mitred square blanket that I've been knitted with all of my Questionable Blends.  

Hopefully, I'll have enough of it to knit the border that will go all the way around the outside and bring everything together.  I might even have enough left over to weave myself a small bamboo scarf… I do hope so!

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