Friday, May 06, 2022

Spinning into Focus

I recently wrote a blog post in which I experimented with many different ways of preparing and spinning a mill-blended, multicoloured top.  I wanted to find out the best techniques for preventing the colours from completely blending together into a muddy brown or grey.

I learned so much by just allowing myself to play with fibre.  I worked out which methods worked best for me, which yarns I preferred, and which methods I found were really way too much effort for anything but the smallest of projects!

9 of the yarns I spun showed at least 'pops of colour',
while 2 (not pictured here) were almost totally brown throughout

In my previous post, I demonstrated how you can get an idea of how a final yarn will look fully blended, by digitally blurring an image of the unspun top; I think the rectangle above is a pretty fair representation of the colour of my most blended of yarns from the John ArbonMidsommar blended top.  For this reason, I'm calling the following technique, Spinning into Focus.

In spinning up 11 different yarns, I produced nearly 300 grams of yarn in varying levels of blendedness (I'm just making up words now!).  I wanted to see how all of the yarns looked knitted together, in order of how blended I think they are.

I didn't have enough yarn for a sweater, so I knitted myself a kind of oversized cowl.  It was a really useful exercise as it helped me to see how the colour transitions worked over a much larger (and more realistic) number of stitches.  It also made me rethink which techniques I would use in a sweater spin.

Here's a visual breakdown of all of the various techniques I used.  Straight away, you can see that the lovely yarn at the very bottom, that I spent hours painstakingly breaking up into a gradient, turned into a bold stripe when knitted over a large number of stitches.  

The section that was spun from the fold also stands out a little too much for me.  Most of the other yarns are slightly muted, but the colours in the yarn spun from the fold seem to have retained their original hue, but are scattered around randomly in a way that could be distracting: I liked this technique, but I think I would reserve its use for more analogous colour blends.

Some of the later, more blended sections do look very similar to each other, so I would probably remove a few of those too.

I would love to knit a top-down sweater using this Spinning into Focus method, working from the most blended at the neckline, down to the least blended at the bottom rib.  

I tend to avoid sweater spins as I find them a little monotonous, but if I were to break it up into 6 or 7 smaller spins, I think that would definitely hold my attention.  I would also have 6 or 7 yarns that were certain to complement each other as they would be spun from the same multi-coloured fibre.

Here's a closer look at how I think I would divide up my yarns for a Spinning into Focus sweater spin - 


I didn’t actually include this one in my original blog post as I felt that the colours were much too blended to be helpful. As the description says, instead of lashing the fibres onto the hackle, I drafted them on carefully, trying to lay the colours down on top of each other. I then dizzed off a thin roving. It still came out very well blended, but this yarn is probably very similar to the yarn you would get if you pre-drafted all of your fibre and then spun it from the end. It has a little more depth and complexity to it than the one that was randomly lashed onto the hackle.


Unfortunately, the close-up of my knitted sections appear slightly out of focus when I zoom in, but please be assured that spinning from the tips of the fibre, moving slowly from side to side, gave me a very subtle tweedy effect.

Here's a close-up of how I spin from the ends of undrafted top, moving slowly from side to side for subtle colour transitions.


There were a few yarns that had this level of subtle colour blend, so I've reduced them down to this one as laying on several layers of fibres onto the blending board made it much easier to diz off.


You can see with this one, the colours are starting to come into focus a little more and there is a little less brown than in the previous yarns.


This was probably my favourite technique, as it was quick and simple and gave a lovely blend of muted colours.

Here's a video of this method in more detail - 


This is already a very popular method for avoiding spinning mud.  If I was splitting it for a sweater spin I would probably break off much longer lengths, but still arrange the colours randomly so that it fitted in with the other irregular colour transitions.


Although this method took significantly longer than any of the others, I decided to include it, as I think its boldness would make a striking stripy rib trim, and finish off a Spinning Into Focus sweater beautifully.


I humbly offer to the spinning world my Spinning Into Focus technique.  I'm definitely going to use this method the next time I buy a multicoloured blended top with the intention of knitting an easy, top-down, seamless sweater.  It would certainly keep my attention longer, the 7 different yarns would all complement each other, and I'd have a jumper that was unquestionably unique and handspun.

If you have found this post interesting or useful, please consider pinning it to Pinterest.  It makes a big difference and it helps other spinners find it too.


Other Spinning Related Blog Posts

9 Different Ways of Spinning a Multicoloured
Blend While Trying to Avoid 'Spinning Mud' 


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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Craftmehappy Joyful Wreath #2 - Knitted Curlicues - How to knit a spiral

Last month I shared how I made the knitted fur base for my Joyful Wreath.  My goal is to try to post one repeating wreath decoration a month, with a final reveal in December.

This month I want to share how to make these knitted spirals.  I can think of lots of different uses for them than just decorations on a wreath - 

  • A bunch of them would make a cute alternative to a pom pom. 
  • You could knit really long ones as streamers to decorate a craft room or child's bedroom.
  • You could cast them on in the middle of your project for interesting texture on a bag, cushion, or child's jumper.
  • They would make cute hair locks on a handmade doll.
  • You could even knit a bowlful of them and pretend that you have multicoloured fusilli pasta!
Full Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links to products similar to ones that I purchased myself.  If you purchase via the links, I may receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no cost to you.  Any income from my blog goes a small way towards funding future blog posts.

I handspun the yarn for the spirals using just cyan, magenta, and yellow that I blended using my mini wool combs.

Here's the final yarn.  The white knots denote the beginning and end of each individual colour so that they can be easily separated out. 

How to Knit Curlicues

The following is more of a recipe than a knitting pattern.  I'd love to see people knitting them in a wide range of yarn weights and lengths, and not be limited by my choices.

My handspun yarn is probably equivalent to a UK 4ply (US fingering yarn).  I'm using size 2.25mm needles - (I love these 40cm circular needles as they make this fast project, even more portable).  I would recommend using a slightly smaller needle size than recommended for your yarn, as it gives a neater finish to the spirals.

I cast on between 45 and 54 sts for my curlicues - but of course, you can cast on as many as you want depending on your yarn and how long you want them.  Just remember that the spiral will shrink by a third when you cast off.  

I chose to cast on a multiple of 3 stitches as this made casting off easier later, but you don't need to be overly strict about it.

Work 3 rows in UK moss stitch (US seed stitch).

Decrease AND cast off as follows.  (Work all stitches as tightly as possible) - 

K1, *P2tog, pass the first stitch on the right needle over the second stitch to cast off, k1, pass the first stitch on the right needle over the second stitch to cast off, repeat from here* to the end, finishing on a P2tog  Pull the yarn through the final stitch.

I knitted 24 little spirals in slightly varying lengths - the variations add to the joyful randomness of it all.

I was originally intending to arrange my wreath motifs in random colour order, but seeing them arranged in spectrum order is extremely pleasing!  I may have to rethink it...

Hopefully, by the end of next month, I'll have another wreath decoration to share with you.  I haven't quite decided what it's going to be yet so watch this space!

Related Posts

Knitting the Loop Stitch for a
Curly Wreath Base


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