Jobo Designs

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7. May 2009 09:45
by Jobo

Going Batty! making batts on my Strauch petite

7. May 2009 09:45 by Jobo | 1 Comments

So I had 1.5 ounces of two different colours of yummy soft tantalizing Naturally dyed polwarth top... and I'm thinking like a greedy spinner:  But it's so pretty!  If I spin them up alone, I won't have enough of anything to make any substantial project! sigh.


The only answer - blend them together and make some batts.


I recently purchased a book about using colour in your spinning.. the aptly named Colour in Spinning, by Deb Menz

Years ago, when I was enrolled in Art lessons and learning about various mediums I did some work with colour theory... Blending colours, hue/shade/tint/value, yadda yadda yadda.  But of course this was mostly with paints and chalk pastels, so when it comes to wool, I am still quite a bit clueless!  I understand the basics of colour, but as far as blending fibers goes, I am a relative newbie.

One chapter of the book in particular deals with methods for blending fiber using a Drum Carder.  Now I have had my Strauch petite for about 3 months, and really haven't done much blending with it yet.  Mostly all I have done is carded plain wool, so I was pretty excited to give this a try.  She describes the process of making thick or thin layers over the drum, and various combinations or arrangements and their resulting yarns.

Since I had 3 quite distinct colours:  Caramel (from Black Tea), Mauve (from Blueberries, Cream (natural undyed fiber) - I knew that I wanted to preserve some distinct areas of each colour in my finished yarn.  If those 3 colours blended too much I'd get a beigey grey final result.  So I decided to do several thicker layers, specifically with some cream separating the coloured wool so that hopefully the mauve and caramel would stay fairly unmuddied.

I started with approximately 1.5 ounces of each colour, and 3 ounces of cream (to sort of balance them out)  So I divided my strands of top so I would have 8 "chunks" of fiber from each of the coloured ones, and 16 of the cream ones, with the goal of finishing with 8 batts.  Since my fiber was high quality top to begin with, the individual pieces did not need to be carded on their own.

For each batt I layered:

      - 1/2 chunk of cream

     - 1 chunk of mauve

     - 1 chunk of cream                                              

     - 1 chunk of caramel

     - 1/2 chunk of cream


Carefully adding one layer over the other, and taking the time to smooth each layer down through the tines of the carding cloth.  Next I removed the batts (basking in the stripey glory) and attenuated them down to approximately a thick pencil roving size (maybe 2-3 cm around, or 1 inch for those imperial folks out there)  This process involved going back and forth across the fiber, pulling just a little bit at a time.  The batt went from being a thick rectangle to being a long strand with ribbons of each colour throughout.  Apparently when you get really skilled at this, you will end up with some of each colour in every section of the attenuated roving, but in my case there are sections with only cream and mauve, and some sections with only cream and caramel. 

The end result looks to me like a bowl of French Vanilla Ice cream with blueberry and caramel sauce drizzled over the top.  (Great, first it was pie cravings when I dyed the roving... now it's ice cream.  Spinning is going to make me FAT)

The resulting batts are very soft and airy, so I think they will be really fun to spin.  The fiber was really good quality to begin with, so it isn't surprising the the resulting batts are tangle/nep free and the roving drafts like a dream.

The 8 batts are quite large... Big enough to fill a dinner plate each.  I estimate that I have somewhere between 6-7 ounces of the blend, so hopefully enough that once spun will make a decent sized project. 

and here is a final picture with my favorite spinning gadget of the day!  Baby Petite.  She did all the hard work, I just added the imagination. 

(** please note when spinners talk about carder "bites" they aren't kidding!  those sharp silver metal teeth are brutal when you are careless and let your hands get too close.  I took 2 good sized knuckle chunks out of my hands working on this project before I smartened up and put a facecloth over the teeth as I was adding the layers.  Bleeding for your art sounds noble, but in my opinion is likely not necessary for successful carding/blending! **)

I'm not sure what weight yarn this stuff will want to be  in the end... my plan is to start out on the first batt and let the wool speak to me.  Polwarth has a fairly long staple, and this prep is mostly worsted-style, so I am imagining a finished yarn that is soft, but smooth and practical.  Maybe something semi worsted in several plies.  Most of the time I think I know what I am planning, but then the wool does its own thing and tells me that it wants to be something else, so who knows ;)

I'll post yarn pictures when it gets finished!

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