Spinning and Dreaming in Color

Spinning and Dreaming in Color

Anita's advancing twill sample with handspun silk handkerchiefs.

I started spinning because of color. I visited a spinning shop with a friend and fell in love with a raspberry-colored bump of Lincoln roving, so I rented a wheel, signed up for lessons, and 20+ years later my love affair with fiber and color continues. (Alas, the Lincoln was too scratchy for the shawl that I planned and graces my stash to this day.) I wonder how many other spinners started by visiting a shop or gathering and catching fiber fever from piles and walls of exuberantly colored tops and rovings.

As I learned to spin, I learned that color deepens as a dyed fiber compresses into yarn. I learned to blend dyed fibers to create new colors, how to spin and ply to preserve the color changes in gorgeous space-dyed tops, how to predict and use visual blending of colors in my mostly knitted projects.

John Mullarkey's inkle and pin-loom woven rainbow "boa" from the May/June issue of Handwoven. 

When I learned to weave, I found new color possibilities. The interlacement of warp and weft create different color interactions than knitting or crocheting with a single strand of yarn. Weaving spurred new experiments in spinning. I took a stack of dyed silk handkerchiefs, cut them into long strips, spun one after another to create repeating color changes, then wove a pattern with black silk to see what would happen. I warped stripes of multi-colored handspun and solid-color yarns from my stash and wove handsome scarves. Right now, I'm plying Romeldale singles in Easter egg colors with whisper-fine white kid mohair and dreaming of a twill or lacey summer shawl.

The shawl will wait a bit because I'm also putting the finishing touches on the May/June issue of Handwoven, which is all about color. And that's fine because the issue is packed with inspiration for my future spinning and weaving projects: Nancy Roberts explains how to dye a knitting blank for weaving color effects; handspun, handwoven samples from Sarah Lamb show a few of the unique effects handspinners can create in weaving, a clever inkle and pin-loom woven rainbow "boa" by John Mullarkey cries out for handspun yarn, and myriad other projects explore the dance of color and fiber. If you're a weaving spinner, I hope you'll join me for this upcoming color adventure, and the adventures to come.


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