Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Behind the scenes: designing a new patchwork colorway

I just finished spinning a sweater's worth of patchwork yarn in a new/updated colorway that is a gift for a friend. Since I was working with her to pick the colors, this is the first time I've really documented the process and I thought others might find it interesting. This all started when my friend Josie and I decided that we both want to knit ourselves basic raglan sweaters from my handspun patchwork yarn. I already had a colorway picked out for me, but we looked through photos of my colorways and Josie was having a hard time picking one. I know her color sense pretty well and I suggested that we take a colorway of mine that I'm not completely happy with and tweak it by swapping out some colors to make it more "Josie". The colorway is Lumos, and I've only ever dyed it maybe 3 times, mostly because I'm not totally in love with it. Here is Lumos in it's original form:

 When we started emailing about colors to change in this colorway, I realized that it might help to have a visual representation instead of just listing colors. I've been dyeing for so long that it's pretty easy for me to visualize things in my head when it comes to my patchwork yarns, but not everyone uses the same descriptive words for colors and I wanted to be sure we were on the same page, so I made this quick chart of the colors in Lumos:

Each of my patchwork colorways has 16 different colors in it, 8 colors in each single ply. So one half of the colorway is on the top, and the other half is the bottom - these will be spun onto separate bobbins and then plied together. I try to keep similar colors (like pale yellow and dark yellow) in the same ply to create more contrast in the finished yarn. It's kind of a permanent barber pole effect, in that there are always two different colors plied together, and results in the tweedy overlapping stripes that I love.

We emailed back and forth a bit, I suggested some colors I thought might be good to add and Josie told me which colors she liked the least so that I could remove or edit them. I made a new chart to show her my vision of our edited version of the colorway:

I got rid of the white, pink, tan, and violet. The white was replaced with natural dark brown wool that I carded into batts from some fleeces I had on hand, and I moved the gold over to the other ply. I added a deep seafoam and spruce (kind of a smokey dark teal) and changed the violet to raspberry. The only other change I made that isn't reflected in this chart is that I dyed the blue-green shade more of a deep bright emerald, since that particular shade of green reminds me of Josie. Future dyelots might have more of a blue-green instead. 

Next, I dyed the fiber. I dyed 2.25 lbs total - 6 skeins (1.5 lbs) for Josie, one skein for a matching baby goat sweater so we can take awkward matching sweater photos with newborn baby goats, and two extra skeins for my etsy shop. I snapped quick photos with bad lighting to show Josie before I dove into prepping the fiber to spin, the colors aren't completely accurate. The red-orange in particular doesn't photograph well, my camera has issues with red tones and insists on turning it into a blazing neon. It's a much more earthy and normal orange in person.

And finally, the moment of truth, the finished yarn. Since the colors are spun in two separate lots, I never completely find out what a colorway will look like until I finish spinning the singles and ply them together. 

I love it. Lumos was okay, and I do try to spin colors that I don't personally love because not everyone has the same tastes, but this is so much more aesthetically pleasing to me. I have named it Goldmine, after a silly moment/inside joke from when Josie and I were first getting to know each other. I tried to type out the story, but like most inside jokes, it doesn't really translate well.

There are two skeins of Goldmine available in the shop, and I will hopefully have finished sweater pictures to share sometime in the future.

1 comment:

knottygnome said...

thanks for the insight into your process! the yarn is just gorgeous.