Spin a Colorful Yarn

  These yarns use almost the same colors, but by changing the spinning and plying techniques, Judith MacKenzie created a range of color effects.

There are as many ways for a spinner to play with color as there are colors. Whether it’s adding in contrasting tweedy bits to add depth to yarn, laying different colored singles in a riotous bouclé, or spinning across a handful of solid tops to create a marled yarn, there may be a million ways to add a splash of color to yarn. Knowing which colors you want to put together is just one part of the spinning equation; how you put them together will make the difference between something subtle and something spectacular.

But besides adding a pop of a different hue to an otherwise monochromatic yarn, some of the techniques that make for a colorful yarn also add eye-catching texture and complexity. Blending too many colors in the same fiber supply can make mud, but blending layers of color in a cable or frosting one color of yarn with another type of fiber can yield yarns that are fun, elegant, quirky, or even a little eerie.

And what about the mouth-watering hand-dyed fibers that crop up so frequently in a spinner’s stash? The ones that can go from breathtaking to blah in seconds when spun certain ways, or that can become an awkwardly pooling mess? There are tricks for managing those fibers, both in terms of enhancing the loveliness of the colors and making the fibers easier to draft out.

The tools that you use to manipulate color are useful parts of an art yarn spinner’s repertoire, too: layering elements, multiple layers of twist, and rich concoctions of texture. Art yarns aren’t just about creative expression: they’re also about skill and control.

Judith MacKenzie’s new video is called a toolbox for a reason: it’s packed full of ways to enhance your yarns and take your spinning to the next level. Here’s to more artful, skillful, and colorful spinning!


imageplaceholder Anne Merrow
Editor, Spin-Off

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