Experimental Spinning 2

In the first Experimental Spinning post I used shades of purple to demonstrate the effects of multiple plies and multiple colors on the final knitted fabric. In this post I will continue with the theme of using plying to play with color, this time working with opposite colors on the color wheel. Again, I am using a somewhat scientific structure to organize my method from start to finish: Subject, Hypothesis, Methods, Testing, Results, Conclusion

Subject – Plying Opposite Colors

Hypothesis – Plying so called “complimentary colors” from a color wheel will result in muddy brown color in a knitted swatch.

Everyone knows that mixing blue and yellow will give you green. blue + red = purple. yellow + red = orange. I have heard and read and found in dying wool, that mixing complimentary colors will often end in mud. If you’ve done any painting or fabric dying or fiber dying, you may also have had this experience. But does this always hold true? Will it hold true with simply plying them together?

First of all, what is the definition of “complimentary” color? Using the most common generally accepted color wheel, complimentary colors are those found directly opposite on the wheel. The compliment of blue is orange. For red it is green. For yellow it is purple.

Methods – I began by spinning singles in each of the 6 colors needed: red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green. Your basic rainbow.

I used European Merino (27 micron) that is inexpensive and readily available from a local shop. It is commercial dyed. I didn’t need a lot so only spun 20 grams of each color. I spun everything for this experiment on an Electric Eel Wheel 6.0.

I then plied HALF of the amount on the bobbins with their compliments.

red + green
blue + orange
yellow + purple

Then I knit swatches with the yarn.

red + green
blue + orange
yellow + purple

I then decided to ply the rest of the singles together into 6-ply yarn to see what that would look like. My additional hypothesis was that all 6 colors together would look muddy. I had never made 6-ply yarn before and was a little nervous about handling all those singles, but it was actually pretty easy.

bobbin layout
6-ply yarn
6-ply yarn, primary and secondary colors
6 color yarn swatch

Testing – Testing the hypothesis is a very subjective process. Do these colors look muddy to YOU? Do they look muddy to ME? With this method, only the green/red combination looks muddy at first glance. I think this is because the value of the colors are very similar. Meaning, they are equally dark. Mixing yellow and purple in a 2-ply yarn only looks like a marled yarn because the value of the colors is so different. The yellow is so bright compared to the purple. To test this further I took a black and white photo of the yarns together. Here you can see what I mean.

from L to R: yellow/purple, blue/orange, red/green

It’s clear from the photo above that the red and green colors are very similar in value and thus more easily fool your eye into thinking they are blended together.

What if you would see the effect of the color mixing more obviously if the pieces of color were tiny pixels instead of large chunks of yellow and purple? I decided to look at the photos of the swatches in Photoshop and see what I could do there to blur the image and see what color would result.

I used the Blur filter on the photos and came up with these results. The algorithm finds the average color from what it sees in the image.

red/green blur
blue/orange blur
yellow/purple blur
6 color blur

Results – Mixing complementary colors via plying does not create a stark or obvious mud color to MY eyes. Possibly the result would be more mud colored if I had spun very fine singles and knit a swatch with 2mm needles the stitches would be small enough to make more of a muddy impact.

However, if you visually mix the colors fine enough it is clear that a muddy color results. So, if you are painting, or mixing dyes, the Photoshopped blur colors are likely what you will get as a result.

Summary – I consider my hypothesis proved right, even though my swatches were too large in their pieces of color to see the effect at first glance. Blurring the images shows the true mix of the colors when the size of each “pixel” is inconsequential. But this leads me to sub-hypothesis, and the next episode of Experimental Spinning…. what happens if you blend these same combinations on a drum carder? How many passes on the carder are needed before you see the complete blending of colors, matching more or less the blurred images above? Do we still end up with mud? Does blending on a drum carder mimic blending dyes in a dye pot? I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

Side note – I have fallen in love with the 6 ply multi-colored yarn. I was surprised how easy it was to ply so many singles together and I’m very happy with the result. It’s not ropey. Not terribly bouncy, but not hard either. I’m very tempted to spin up some more singles and ply enough to make a hat. I think it would make me smile every time I put it on. My advice to spinners – go for lots of plies and see what happens! It’s only wool after all. You are the boss of your spinning.

One Glove

The first of EJ’s gloves is finished. I think he will be as glad as I am when they are both done because I’m bugging him all the time to try it on. It is knit to fit!

The pattern is Seascape Gloves but there are instructions also for mittens or fingerless mittens in the same pattern. I used Zauberball Crazy yarn which EJ picked out himself at de Witte Engle in Den Burg, Texel. I used 2.5mm needles (2 circs) for the ribbing and tops of fingers, and 2.75mm for the hand and beginning of the fingers.

palm side

The pattern is easy to follow and in general I like the result. The only thing that didn’t go well is the shape of the base of the thumb. It was a big hole. When I picked up stitches for the thumb I did some short rows between thumb and first finger to try to fill in the gap. That worked ok, but I’d rather not have to do that. I’ll see on the second glove if I can keep that from happening in the first place.

the filled in gap

I have started on my second mitten and once I’m past the thumb area I’ll also start on the second glove. I am really looking forward to getting back to my CARDIGAN!

I’m also spinning – working on Experimental Spinning 2, which I’ll be able to share next Tuesday. I’m already plotting ES 3. But before that I want to prepare an article proposal for Ply magazine. I hope they like it! If they don’t, well, you’ll see it here instead. 🙂

Free Patterns

I have a couple of free sock patterns on Ravelry and I thought I’d put them here as well. Above is a photo of Butterfly Circus socks.

These socks are called Seasonal Socks. In the pattern there are 3 lengths (Spring, Summer, Fall/Winter) and 3 ending treatments (picot edge, bind off calf length, and increases to a knee length).

part of the toe charts

Finally, I have updated the charts for knitting left and right toes. You can use them to knit toe up or top down socks and also for socks with more than 60 stitches in the foot.

You can find all of these things, and more, on the Resources page. Enjoy!

One Mitten

I finished the first mitten yesterday. Today I went out into the windy cold day to try to find some light to take a few photos. This group of statues stands in front of the public library in my town. In 2018 the library was voted the “Best Library in the World”, as judged by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations). But back to the mitten….

I started working on this on Christmas Day so it has knit up very quickly, also considering other ongoing projects. It was a cold afternoon and I was glad to have even ONE mitten to put on.

This Estonian yarn is rough and tough and perfect for mittens. I used size 2.25mm needles and got the same gauge as the pattern (36 sts/inch/10cm). They fit me perfectly, but I have small hands. You could easily go up to 2.5mm for a larger size and still have a good warm fabric.

The pattern is Kainoruusu, which I knit as given except for adding the Latvian braid before and after the cuff. For that I used the instructions from the free pattern Warm Hearted Mittens on Knitty.com.

I’m knitting these mittens as part of the Yarniacs Self Indulgent KAL, which runs from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. The mittens are really self indulgent because I don’t NEED them. I have other mittens. I have mittens that I bought in Estonia. Mittens I’ve knit. Mittens I don’t wear often. But these are so pretty that I just couldn’t stop myself. And when you have the yarn in stash, there’s no reason not to!

I’m also busy working on the man gloves. I’m up to the fingers on the first glove, so you’ll be seeing it soon. And I need to get back to my cardigan!

As a sneak preview…. can you guess what I’m up to here?

Goodbye 21, Hello 22

In this year of stops and starts, ups and downs, open and closed, left and right, here are my best 9 projects of 2021. All of them are on Ravelry if you are interested in more details. From top left:

  1. 374 grams, 2670 meters of Shetland lace weight, spun on a Schacht Matchless; knit into 9.
  2. Shark tank baby blanket made for the newest member of the family
  3. 920g of 2-ply Aran weight, 70% Shetland fiber, 30% sparkly merino/sparkles, spun on an Electric Eel Wheel 6.0
  4. Canal Poncho, pattern by the fantastically talented Nancy Marchant
  5. Exploration Station shawl, pattern by the also fantastically talented Stephen West
  6. Sweater Spin 2021, knit with yarn from 8.
  7. Best Vacation Ever sweater, my own pattern, knit with 10 colors of Holst Garn Tides
  8. 450g 3-ply BFL, fiber dyed by me, knit into sweater 6.
  9. Shetland christening shawl, 140cm / 55“ square, 291g final weight, knit from 1.

If you know me, you know I’m a planner. On 1 January 2022 I’m planning my projects for the coming year…. Finish the 3 projects that are in progress. Make yet another baby blanket. Spin the next episode of Experimental Spinning. Send an article proposal to Ply Magazine. Knit another version of the Best Vacation Ever sweater and write up the pattern. Sew a dress with my own designed fabric. Sew a dress with all of our cast off jeans. And then we’re up to summer and I want to do some dyeing outside……

I have also been thinking about this blog, and Instagram and FaceBook and Twitter, and how to make this all work together and create things that others find interesting enough to come back to. I have re-opened the Under Dutch Skies FB page. I’ve linked Instagram to that page and also to my Twitter account. Today’s blog post will be a test to see if the link between WordPress and those accounts play nicely together and will post simultaneous updates.

That’s the technical side of things, but what about content? What am I trying to do here? What keeps the blog from becoming a chore instead of a fun creative thing? I have found that trying to write a blog post every week with a “big story” is really difficult. I am not that fast with my projects! I really want to write about the start, middle and end of a project every week. But, starting in 2022, as you are seeing here, I’m going to write more often, smaller posts, and at least once a month write a longer complete project (or technique) post.

I’ve been blogging for a long time (those old years are archived now) and I found that when I wrote something every single day for a month, my readership went way up. People have the attention span of fleas and if you aren’t creating, they aren’t coming back. I’ll start writing more. Please come back!

What are you planning for 2022? Are you planning ahead or do you just pick up what feels good in the moment?