Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cotton Candy Fractals

I mentioned on Instagram that I've been going through Felicia Lo's (of SweetGeorgia fame) "Spinning with Dyed Fibers" Craftsy class.

It's a wonderful class, and terribly inspiring. So inspiring, in fact, that I took out my new drop spindle and began a second spinning project.

Ages ago I produced this roving in a kitchen dyeing experiment. I split the 4oz fiber in 2 rough halves and braided them together in a 4-stranded braid. I then coiled the braid in a pie plate and started applying dye and squishing everything around. I was going for a sunset-y colorway, using Wilton's icing gels in Burgundy, Brown, Copper, and Golden Yellow. I tried to keep the red/pink concentrated towards the center, with the brown, orange, and yellow on the outside. Once it was fully saturated, I covered the pie plate with cling-wrap and microwaved it to set the color.

The end result looked a bit like a sick giraffe. I was not smitten.

1/2 of the braid; showing the patterns produced by dyeing while braided
It's been sitting in my fiber box for months, as I've been a bit apprehensive about how it would turn out. But it's been a long, grey winter and I was tired of spinning white fiber on my other spindle, so I broke this out and started spinning the first half. I split it vertically once, and did a fair amount of pre-drafting and spreading width-wise as the dying process had severely matted the fiber (my inexperience, not a fault of the method I used).

After beginning to spin, I was very pleasantly surprised!

It looks like cotton candy. No sick giraffes in sight. Phew! The mottled fiber doesn't look like it would produce very different stripes of yarn, but there is definitely a pronounced pink section and a peachy/mottly/brownish section.

After watching Felicia's class, I decided to try a fractal spin on this braid. We can think of the fiber itself as being dyed like this:

Splitting the fiber lengthwise and re-combining produces shorter striping sections. I started by splitting it in two, to make a 2-ply final yarn. Both of those two sections looked like the color repeat shown above. For the first ply, I further split it in half once more and spun one batch after the other, to produce the color repeat shown below:

To produce a fractal yarn, I split the second portion into 8 equal pieces, by splitting in half lengthwise 3 times (1 into 2 into 4 into 8). This repeat is shown in the top portion of the image below. Lining it up with the first ply in the bottom half of the image, we get this result:

The idea of fractal spinning is that these color combinations produce interesting effects in the plied result. As you can see, there will be portions where the pink and coral ply together, making a barber-pole effect, and other places where pink & pink will line up and coral & coral will line up. Felicia showed some stunning examples in her class. Her examples were on a much more pronounced color shift (from lime green to dark purple). This dye-job is more subtle, but my hope is that it knits up in a pleasing way where both colors are apparent but not competing with each other.

Here's the splitting process on the wool itself. First, I spread out the matted fiber down the length of the roving.

It looks a bit more like a batt rather than roving now. But that's OK; it means it will split quite nicely.

In half and in half and in half again...

After I finished the last split, I pre-drafted each section just a bit so that it was smooth, before rolling into tidy little balls for storage.

Wound up and ready to spin!

To spin these, I'll simply start with one ball and join another when I reach the end.

I'll be sure to show you guys the finished product once it's complete. For in-progress shots, you can follow me on Instagram.

Happy crafting!


P.S. - all of the photos for this post were taken with an iPhone camera, in my living room, at night, with various (yellow) artificial lighting. I am constantly amazed at how capable that little device is, even if the colors are a bit off. I promise to take real photos when the spinning is complete ;-)

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