Spin a Striped Batt for a Gradient Yarn
No one spins with color like Jillian Moreno! Imaginative and fearless, she has a way with batts that can’t be beat. In this excerpt from her article “Under the Big Top: Spinning Striped Batts for Knitting” from Spin + Knit 2016, she gives her favorite method of preparing and spinning a striped batt to make gradient yarn.
I love batts. I love to buy them and pet them, spin them and knit them. I especially love striped batts. Do I want long runs of color or supershort ones? Do I want the colors clear or blended? Each decision leads to a very particular yarn.
Do you spin and knit your batts the same way every time? Are you ready to try something new?
Spinning Color Fun
Batts—especially batts with colorplay—can be hard to sample; unlike a variegated top, you can’t just peel a strip and sample. When I can, I often buy an extra batt (or two) just to experiment with. My favorite part of spinning batts is playing with color. Sometimes I break them apart and reorder them for a specific effect; sometimes I spin them just as they come. The directions below are for a batt with three stripes; if your batt includes more stripes, you may need to tear more strips. All of these color-wrangling methods can be spun in the grain direction of the batt (from the end of each strip) if you want a less airy yarn.
A gradient colorway is one in which one color presents at a time in a single occurrence; the colors never repeat. With a striped batt such as the one pictured here, it’s easy to make a gradient by spinning it exactly as it’s made. There are a few options for spinning the batt, and each one changes how much the colors blend where they overlap.
- For the most blended overlap of colors between individual, clear colors, roll the batt a little tighter with the grain, and then attenuate it from the end into roving. The combination of one continuous roving and a woolen draft encourages the fibers to catch randomly, often pulling colors together and increasing the blending of colors.
- For a medium amount of overlap of blended colors between the solid colors, I strip the batt vertically into thirds by color, roll each color into a small batt, and spin from the rolled end. This helps to control the blending by separating the stripes so the colors don’t pull through.
- To achieve the clearest, most solid color, I strip the batt vertically into five strips so that the solid colors stay clear and the spots where the colors overlap are their own strips. I roll each into a rolag and spin from the end. This gives me the least amount of blended color. If I want pure color with no blending, I put the strips with overlapping colors aside for another project.
Jillian Moreno, author of Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning, loves to spin yarn and knit, weave, and stitch with it. She enthusiastically encourages her students and readers to feel confidence and joy making and using their handspun. When she isn’t traveling to teach, she can be found rearranging her stash in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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