the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Madrona Fiber Arts: Color Progression in Plying

Back to the excitement of my classes at Madrona Fiber Arts.
I was fortunate enough to take a class with Judith MacKenzie-McCuinn. She is a master in fiber arts. If you ever have the opportunity to take any class with her at all - just take it :-)
This class taught us the effect of colors on each other when they are blended in different ratios. Judith had us select three colorways to work with, and encouraged us to choose at least one that made us a bit uncomfortable (as in out of our normal range of taste).
I selected a deep burgandy, a lilac, and a shocking electric pink (yes the pink was my discomfort place)
We spun fine singles of each colorway and then began to blend them according to her directions. We made various three ply yarns :

first three of the burgandy singles were plyed together,
then two burgandysingles were combined with one lilac single,
and then two lilac singles and one burgandy single.

As you can see, the color tonality of the yarn changes relative to the number of singles used of each colorway.

We then did the same with the second colorway (lilac in my case)

and then with the third colorway (shocking pink)

As a final step, I blended one strand of each - burgandy, lilac, and pink. I ended up liking this one best of all - and have had fun contemplating whether or not I might be able to dye up some fiber to create this colorway (so far it hasn't come to me...)

I've lined them all up here for you to see just how amazing the progression is.
It was a delightful class - filled with fun engaging people. I enjoyed myself immensely - and wish it could have gone on all day.**

There were some other fun tidbits of wisdom that I gathered during class (as is always the case when you take a class from Judith.
Judith showed us a technique for spinning from "top" so that we never have to "split" the roving again (or pre-draft). Judith described the fact that top is often difficult to spin fine because the fibers are not "compacted" enough. She demonstrated how to compress the top by rolling it between the palms of our hands - thus making a dense tube to spin from. This technique involved much laughter - licking on ones' palms to add moisture and then a tiny bit of disbelief... but try it. You will be totally amazed. (and you'll never have to do any of that splitting or pre-drafting again when you spin top.) It's amazing. (as Judith normally is)

here's the pre-compressed top (in it's normal state when we buy it:

here is me rolling it between my palms to compress it . I've spared you the licking-of-the-palms-photo - (smile)

and here is what it looks like with one end of the top "compacted".

Judith also mentioned to us that one end of "top" is easier to spin from than the other. You can discern this by gently tugging on one end of the top (before you compact it) and then the other. The fibers will pull out easier from one end. This should be the end we spin from.
So I encourage you to try your own little experiment. Take some top, and just spin from it (without splitting or pre-drafting).
Next take a small bit of top and compact it as I have shown here - and spin again (without changing any settings on your wheel) .Viola!

Last but not least, I picked up a cool new "toy" - Judith has come out with a line of dyes that have no known toxicity*. This is very important to us and our environment. Here is a picture of the kit:
It is called "Mother MacKenzie's Miracle Dyes". We hope to be selling them on our website soon.
From these nine colors, you can create a huge number of colorways by blending the powdered dyes in various ratios.
I also picked up a book that has been produced by Linda Jacobs (of Cedar Hill Fiber Farm in Suquamish WA) that is a guide for the blending ratios. I am keeping my fingers crossed for good luck that I might be able to persuade Linda to allow us to sell her marvelous book as well.
I haven't had a chance to try out these dyes yet, but I will - and I'll keep you posted.
All these colors were made with the nine dye pots pictured in the photo. amazing.

Last (but not least) there was someone special in a few of my
classes (including this one) and she even signed my copy of her book!
She is even more delightful and funny in person than she is in her books (can you believe it?!)

*edited to note: although there is no "known" toxicity in this type of dyes, please use common sense and caution. ALL dyes can be toxic in powdered format (even so-called natural ones) if they are inhaled into your lungs - wear rubber gloves, and wear a dust mask/respirator at all times when using any type of dyes.
** although I have given you quite a nice sample of what we did in Judith's class, there was alot more information that was taught than what I have presented here in this tiny post. Take this class. I learned so very much more than what I have shared here.


At February 7, 2007 at 12:10 PM, Blogger Carole Knits said...

I'm not sure I believe you about that spinning from top trick. But I'm willing to try it!

At February 7, 2007 at 12:15 PM, Blogger flwrhead said...

No. I can't believe it. I am so jealous!!! I'd love to take a class like that *sigh* maybe someday! Meanwhile I'll keep reading your blog and Color in Spinning. Thanks for sharing!

At February 7, 2007 at 12:47 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I love the compressed top tip! I have some at home I can't wait to try it out on!!

At February 7, 2007 at 12:47 PM, Blogger trek said...

The plies look very neat.
My Fiber Pusher taught me that about which end to spin. Makes sense really - hair grows directionally and the edges of the thingies-whose-name-I-can't-remember catch in one direction and not in the other.

At February 7, 2007 at 12:51 PM, Blogger margene said...

I'm with Carole. I need to suspend disbelief and give it a try!

At February 7, 2007 at 12:54 PM, Anonymous Sundara said...

Each time you post, I'm a little sadder that I wasn't able to go to Madrona this year!

I'd love to hear a review on Judith's non-toxic dyes when you get a chance.

At February 7, 2007 at 1:19 PM, Blogger Janice in GA said...

The fact that top has a direction is one of the tips I tell new spinners all the time.

And rolling the top between your hands -- haven't tried that, but it makes me think of making rolags with hand cards! Very cool.

At February 7, 2007 at 1:39 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Those dyes are very intriguing! I'm looking forward to your review and results.

At February 7, 2007 at 3:46 PM, Blogger hillary said...

There is just so much to learn. I never took a knitting class but I'm pretty sure that there are many more spinning classes ahead.

At February 7, 2007 at 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow the color progression thing is very interesting! Thanks!

At February 7, 2007 at 6:28 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Wow! That is an amazing idea for spinning from the top. I'll have to try it out. It sounds like you learned so much!

At February 7, 2007 at 6:46 PM, Blogger Jane said...

The top thing is intriguing, but how can it work? Where did I stash that top?

At February 8, 2007 at 3:27 AM, Anonymous jessie said...

Those plied yarns are so fun. I got the same kind of ideas from the Twisted Sisters book and I think it's what inspired me to learn to use the drop spindle.

It's quite amazing how a single in an "off" color can be integrated into a plied yarn and look so fantastic. You just never can tell...

At February 8, 2007 at 3:54 AM, Blogger Lola said...

What is Judith's website URL? I'd like to get some of these dyes . . .

At February 8, 2007 at 6:40 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

that is so neat - amazing that one or two plys of a color can "shift" it that dramatically! it's so amazing to see! I will have to pass on that trick about spinning to my sister - not sure if she'll believe me about the licking the hands thing! :) it sounds like you learned so much!

i love that dye pack - I do have some dyes, but I hated having to decide what to get - I'd rather have it all portioned and picked for me!

At February 8, 2007 at 3:57 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Judith's class sounds great! That spinning from top trick is neat -- I've spun from some alpaca top before, and just winged it with my drop spindle. I'll try this out and see how it goes!

At February 8, 2007 at 5:22 PM, Blogger clothesknit said...

the trick with the top is wonderful!!!

At February 8, 2007 at 5:49 PM, Anonymous Laurie said...

I can't wait to try that trick! I'm spinning merino/tencel top and having to go so very slowly. It seems so anti-intuitive. Thank you for sharing that.

At February 9, 2007 at 6:27 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I hope to be able to take a class with Judith some day. I would love to try out the top trick but I don't think I have any top in my stash. I'm sure I will eventually though. It sounds like it was a great class!

At February 9, 2007 at 12:08 PM, Blogger jackie said...

Oh Wowzers! Thanks for the trip, I'm going to try the palm licking, rolling drafting tip the next bundle of fiber I spin. What I am working on now is already split.

And as for pink being out of your comfort zone.... I'm sorry. All you said in your yarn aboard questionaire was that you didn't like grey or anything that you would have to clean and pick. When I think of that screaming pink bundle that I sent you.....I'm sorry. I could have sent you the bundle of "sultan" merino. I did an e-nee, me-nee, my-nee, moe and sent the pink alpaca. At least it wasn't grey.

At February 10, 2007 at 5:11 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Sounds like a great class! Judith came and put on a workshop for our guild last year and taught us that spinning from the top trick. It really worked great for spinning a lace yarn!

At February 20, 2007 at 1:41 PM, Anonymous cheryl said...

I love the dyes and have been using them since I bought them at Stitches West last year. Do you like compressing the top? Does it really help in the spinning?

That Judith is always full of surprises. One of the best tips I got from taking one of her classes was how to make a leader without tying or taping or gluing one on the bobbin.


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