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dyer's notebook

2016-17 Fiber Club colorway round-up

dyer's notebook, what we doSasha Torres2 Comments

Every year I like to write a post chronicling what I sent out to the fiber club. If you're considering joining the Fiber Club this year, looking through these will give you some idea of the kinds of fiber I send out and the colorways I come up with.

When I'm thinking about new colorways for the club, I always start by making a moodboard. I just grab a lot of images from Pinterest that have similar colors and group them together. Below I've posted the moodboards and some pictures of the fiber (and in some cases yarn) that the moodboards became. 

Despite the fact that I took a huge number of photographs this year, I did not do a very consistent job of documenting the club fiber. There are lots of colorways I didn't photograph, for whatever reason. So lots of the pics below are club members' photos, from Instagram. I'm so grateful to them for giving me permission to use them here. And seriously, folks, go check out their wonderfully fiber-centric feeds.

Along with the multicolored colorways I design for the club, I also offer coordinating semisolids; some of those are pictured below, but I'm focusing on the multis here.

July 2016: Shetland

Austen

Austen

Bronte

Bronte

I was pleased with how both of these turned out. I love how the sweetness of the pastels in Austen is tempered by the cool gray; you'll definitely see this colorway on other fibers in the future. Below are two shots from Instagram to give you a sense of the fiber. 

Austen, by  @knittyzen

Austen, by @knittyzen

Here's Bronte, with its coordinating semisolid, Aubergine, from @ claudiachristinemeyer .

Here's Bronte, with its coordinating semisolid, Aubergine, from @claudiachristinemeyer.

September 2016: Whitefaced Woodland

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Russian Squirrel

Russian Squirrel

These I have pictures of! I absolutely loved both of these colorways, and they are both going into the regular rotation. Love, love, love. (And the Whitefaced Woodland was dreamy.)

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Russian Squirrel and its accompanying semi-solid, imaginatively called "Russian Squirrel Orange."

Russian Squirrel and its accompanying semi-solid, imaginatively called "Russian Squirrel Orange."

November 2016: Southdown

Cranberry Bog

I liked both of these quite a bit, though I'll probably tweak the lime green in
Mexico a bit going forward to make it a little greener.

Here's  @owlcatdesigns ' Cranberry Bog (plus an undyed braid).

Here's @owlcatdesigns' Cranberry Bog (plus an undyed braid).

Club member Laura Walters spun her Southdown into a three-ply yarn and knit it into these stunning socks.

Possibly the most beautiful socks ever. 

Possibly the most beautiful socks ever. 

January 2017: Rambouillet

Orion

Orion

Rosette

Rosette

OMG, guys, this was my favorite pair of the year! I loved them. And they both spun up beautifully. These will both go into my regular repertoire. 

Every time I look at this picture, my heart sings. These beautiful singles in Orion (and the gorgeous pic) are from  @lschildress .

Every time I look at this picture, my heart sings. These beautiful singles in Orion (and the gorgeous pic) are from @lschildress.

March 2017: Teeswater

Lavenderia

Lavenderia

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Finally, some of my own pictures! Because the Teeswater takes color so intensely, Lavenderia wasn't nearly as pastel-y as I originally intended. I'm excited to try it on a different wool. I wasn't sure about Mardi Gras until I saw Janelle's yarn (pictured below). Spinning this colorway as a singles was a brilliant choice, because the reds and greens aren't competing with one another, as they likely would in a plied yarn. 

Lavenderia

Lavenderia

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Gorgeous Teeswater singles from  @jlwinpa .

Gorgeous Teeswater singles from @jlwinpa.

May 2017: Polwarth/Silk

Nantucket

Nantucket

Cape May

Cape May

I always want to go with something summery for May. I loved the simplicity of the blues and yellow in Nantucket, and, as usual, threw in a bit of that de-saturated blue gray to complicate things a bit. And I love the combinations of the slightly desaturated not-quite-pastels in Cape May. 

@jlwinpa's Nantucket, which she captioned "Summer in Fiber Form."

@jlwinpa's Nantucket, which she captioned "Summer in Fiber Form."

Of course, if you're a white-wool purist like Beth Smith, you always have the options to get your club fiber undyed, like Penny, whose collection is below. ;-)

I love this picture from  @pziarnik .

I love this picture from @pziarnik.

Color theory 101: knitting naturally

dyer's notebook, what we doAlicia de los ReyesComment

For the last post in this color theory series, I'd like to introduce you to Beth Smith, an accomplished spinning teacher. She's written for Spin-off and Knittyspin and is on the editorial board of Ply. Her book, The Spinner's Book of Fleece, is a detailed guide to finding, prepping and spinning different breeds of wool. Today, she's sharing why she prefers to spins undyed fiber.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Beth Smith loves to spin white wool. 

I am Beth Smith and I have a white wool problem. Well, not a problem, exactly—but I love to spin it, weave it and knit it. (And if I was better at crochet I would probably crochet lovely white dresser scarves with white thread.)

My friends know this about me and tease me to no end. Most of my friends dye their wool, and the ones who don’t buy it dyed. When I signed up for the Sheepspot Fiber Club, I asked if I could please have the undyed fiber.

When I teach classes, most of the fiber is undyed. Not necessarily all white—but no added color.

I have my reasons.

Let’s start with the basics. Personally, I like the look of white. I do wear plenty of color, but I like how I can see the twist and the texture a bit easier through the white and shadows of the fiber. 

In addition to making the texture more obvious, working with natural fiber opens your eyes to the different shades of natural white from different breeds of sheep. Very few breeds are pure, snowy white; they range from eggshell to creamy yellow. I have long had a weaving project in mind where I make something to wear that takes advantage of these very subtle shifts in color and value.

I never get bored spinning white. I just finished a project where I spun and plied the yarn for two white skirts. I needed a total of 11,000 yards of two ply yarn. That’s 22,000 yards of singles. And I never got tired of it.

I have, however gotten tired of spinning some dyed fiber.

I also like to teach with undyed fiber. The breeds we study must be undyed to completely show the texture and crimp of freshly scoured fleece.

But I also use plenty of undyed wool for my skills classes, for two main reasons.

First, my students can easily see differences in twist in white wool. I often talk about how the amount of twist affects the finished project, and it is important for students to be able to easily see the differences in the yarns they are spinning. 

The second reason is that there are slight changes in the texture of the wool when it is dyed. I can’t say exactly what the changes are, but you can feel a difference. Regardless of the breed (even Merino!), undyed fibers slide past each other a bit more easily. There is also much less possibility of compacting or fulling, which sometimes happens with dyed fibers. So it's for the students' own good!

I understand that not everyone is going to have the same loving feelings toward white wool that I have—but I do hope that those people who take my classes will be understanding of me and my color-free leanings. I love working with undyed fiber. If you don’t think I’m serious, check out my book full of undyed yarns!

All photos © Beth Smith.

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: color theory for knitters

what we do, dyer's notebookAlicia de los ReyesComment

I'm thrilled to have Janine Bajus of Feral Knitter on the blog this week. Janine is an accomplished color work teacher and pattern designer—and she sells yummy Shetland yarn. Find her on her website or on Ravelry (username feralknitter). Continuing our studies in color theory, Janine shares how to use hue families and value sequences to choose yarns for your next Fair Isle project. (And never fear; she breaks it all down for you, step by step!)

Sasha has introduced the concepts of hue, value, and saturation. One of the pleasures of life is playing with color, and the more we learn about it the more fun we can have. That’s all well and good, but let’s ask the tough question: how can you choose colors that work together?

Well, color theory can help you answer this question, too! On the back of any color wheel you will find several suggestions about color families that work well together. These are called harmonies.

One simple combination is called a triad: three color families spaced equidistantly around the wheel. In this case it's blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Or you can choose two color families that fall directly across the wheel from each other, like red and green, yellow and violet, or blue and orange; these are known as complements.

There are many more such harmonies that you can choose from with some confidence that your colors will not clash.

I had trouble using a color wheel at first—it seemed like I could never locate the color of the yarn I held in my hand on the wheel! I began to understand color relationships when I found the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool, an expanded color wheel with 24 hue families. Each hue family is illustrated with the saturated form of the hue, plus its tints, shades, and tones—when I saw them all together like this it all made sense.

Something else is happening in the examples I’ve used, though—it’s not just about the hue families. Fair Isle knitting designs depend on value sequences as well as color: the values move from dark to light into the center point and then move back out to dark again (or, of course, the value movement could run from light to dark to light! So many choices…).

To pick a color combination, first choose the hue families you want to work with and then find several values within those families—this is where it is handy to know about tints and shades! Then arrange the colors by value so that they move from dark to light (or vice versa) in your pattern.

If you want to learn more about using color theory to create lovely designs, I recommend Color Play by Joen Wolfrom! I guarantee that learning more about how colors work together will add pleasure to your fiber life.

All photos © Janine Bajus.

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: color theory for spinners

what we do, dyer's notebookAlicia de los ReyesComment

I'm *so* excited to have amazing fiber artist/teacher/spinsib Jillian Moreno (perhaps you know her from Knittyspin?) share how she shifted a fiber from a variegated colorway into a gradient colorway. Don't know what those terms mean? Don't worry! She spells them out below. Take it away, Jillian!

Dorset Down  in Boardwalk.

Dorset Down in Boardwalk.

When I first started spinning I used to just spin everything as it came. I would buy beautifully dyed fiber, split it in two, spin it from end to end and ply the two singles together. I did that for a long time, but now I can’t quit playing with fiber I get. I rarely spin fiber as it comes anymore.

Take this gorgeous variegated Dorset Down roving in the colorway Boardwalk from theSheepspot fiber club (above). I got it into my head that I wanted to make this variegated roving into a gradient yarn.

The difference between variegated and gradient is simple. A variegated fiber or yarn has several colors that appear more than once on the length of the fiber or yarn; it can be in a pattern or a random placement and is usually in fairly short color runs. Agradient fiber or yarn has several colors with each color only appearing once, usually in longer color runs.

Because I like to play with my fiber, I spun this roving in a couple of ways.
I spun part of it as it came into a fine single and chain plied it, keeping the colors as distinct as possible. Here’s the roving ready to spin. 

And the finished variegated yarn.

Then I made the variegated roving into a gradient. I divided the roving by color, just pulling it apart, trying for cleanest break I could get. I didn’t worry too much about perfectly clean breaks since I like some variation in my colors.

If you want only clear color, keep pulling out the tiny bits of color that don’t belong out of your fiber chunks. These little bits are great to save for making batts.

I chose a color order and spun the fiber into a fine single and chain plied it.
Here’s the finished gradient yarn.

Here are the two yarns side by side, variegated on the left and gradient on the right. Similar, but different. I love it.

Here’s a different view. The gradient yarn is on the left and variegated yarn on the right.

With the yarns spiraled like this you can really see the difference. The colors in the gradient are used only once and the colors in the variegated are used more than once with much more blending between colors. The blue is a particular standout.

Just for fun I spun and plied together one single of the variegated and one single on the gradient. It’s a color mixing party!

There are so many ways to work with a braid of fiber. One day I want to knit a sweater using a single colorway manipulated in a huge variety of ways; I think it would be stunning.

All photos © Jillian Moreno.

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: saturation

dyer's notebook, what we doAlicia de los ReyesComment

Welcome to the third post in this series on color theory and how it relates to knitting and spinning. Want to catch up? Find the entire series here.

So far, we've talked about hue and value. You might remember that hue is another word for the basic, brightest colors on the color wheel and value is a measure of how much black, white, or gray is mixed into a particular hue.

Now, I'll share with you a bit about the final piece to making sense of color: saturation. Saturation is a measure of how bright or intense a color is; the more saturated it is, the closer it is to the purest or brightest version of itself. You can think of earthy tones and neutral colors (like grays and browns) as being less saturated, and bright rainbow hues as more saturated.

My big book o' dye samples.

My big book o' dye samples.

This last measure is confusing for some people because we're used to talking about a color wheel—that is, a two-dimensional diagram of color. But in reality, color has three dimensions, which I've shared with you here: hue, value, and saturation. Maggie Maggio, an amazing polymer clay artist and one of my favorite bloggers on color theory, has a great description of how to visualize color in three dimensions here.

If you're interested in color theory, do poke around on Maggie's website, Smashing Color—it's a fantastic resource. Another fun way to play with color (literally) is to try Blendoku, an online game you can download for your smartphone or tablet that asks you to fill in the intermediate steps between two colors. It sounds complicated, but it's really fun (and addictive!) to drag and drop different shades of blue to get from gray to purple.

Next, I'll be sharing perspectives on color theory from a few favorite spinners, knitters, and fiber artists. Stay tuned!

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: value

dyer's notebook, what we doAlicia de los ReyesComment

Thanks for joining me in learning about color theoryI think it's so useful for all us makers. Has learning about color theory helped you? Let me know in the comments! 

Last week, we talked about hue. Hue refers to the basic, brightest versions of colors found on the color wheel, like blue, green, and yellow. This week, we're diving into the concept of value.

I mentioned in my last post that most colors you see in everyday life are tints or shades. A tint is a hue with white added to it (so pink is actually a tint of red); a shade is a hue with black mixed in. 

Clun Forest Sport in Inchworm , a tint of yellow-green.

Clun Forest Sport in Inchworm, a tint of yellow-green.

There are also tones, which are hues with gray added to them.

The value of a color is how light or dark it is on a scale relative to white; the brighter the hue, the higher value it has. 

Columbia Aran in Blood Orange ; most of the colors in this semi-solid skein are shades of red-orange.

Columbia Aran in Blood Orange; most of the colors in this semi-solid skein are shades of red-orange.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell which colors in a group are the brightest; one easy way to do so is to take a picture of the colors and then use a black and white filter to render the photo in shades of gray. I've done this below to make the range of values in this Cheviot top (in "Gummi Bear") more clear.

It's important to consider value when combining colors. Fair Isle knitting, for example, requires colors of different values to make the patterns pop. In spinning, thinking about value can help you predict which fibers will "barber-pole" when plied; the greater the range of values, the more obvious the barber-pole. Below is a picture of Targhee top in "Cultivate" and the yarn I spun from it. Because there's a big range of values in the colorway, the barber-poling in the final yarn is quite evident.

Next week, I'll share with you one final aspect of color—saturation—and then I'll give you some tips for using color theory to create color combinations.

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: hue

dyer's notebook, what we doAlicia de los ReyesComment

If you've been knitting or spinning for any length of time, chances are you've come across a few color theory terms such as hue, value, and saturation. These words can be intimidating if you don't know what they mean, but they come in handy when you're talking to other fiber artists, and when you're trying to choose colors for your next project.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share the basics of color theory with you. This will help you learn to recognize what makes some color combinations work well (and others not so much).

First up: hue. And the good news is you already know what hue is... it's color. Hue refers to one of the colors on the color wheel: a primary, secondary, or tertiary color. Remember primary colors? Red, blue and yellow are the most basic hues. Mix them and you get secondary colors: purple, green, and orange. When you mix a secondary color with a primary color, you get a tertiary color, like one of my favorite blue-greens.

View over Barcelona (modified) by  robin robokow

View over Barcelona (modified) by robin robokow

Think of hues as the basic, brightest building blocks of all the different colors you find in yarn and in everyday life. Most of the colors you see are actually tints or shades of hues. More on those next week!

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Look again

dyer's notebookSasha TorresComment
15-12-20 - 0007.jpg

I’ve written before about how I develop colorways by working from photographs. I usually start by cruising Pinterest for images that I love the look of. For me this is an intuitive process. I don’t do a whole lot of analysis of the colors in the photo or of their relationships on the color wheel (a topic for a while other post). I just let myself go on instinct. Then I pull five or six colors out of the image using software that analyzes the colors of individual pixels and blows them up into larger swatches. Of course, there are often many, many colors in the photo, so this is a highly selective process. Though there are some basic principles I use while doing this (that post is coming too), sometimes I do better than others in selecting the hues—and the relationships between them—that have made the picture appealing to me in the first place. So sometimes I end up with a result I love, and sometimes I don’t.

Higher Ground/Ascend, take one

Higher Ground/Ascend, take one

IMG_4419.jpg

This weekend I was working with a colorway that I didn’t love. It’s called “Higher Ground” on yarn, and “Ascend” on fiber (I tend to use song titles to name multi-hued colorways on yarn, and verbs to name them on fiber. Just to keep things simple. Not.) I developed Higher Ground from a photograph that I loved, but the colorway itself felt very flat to me.

In thinking—lying in bed one night—about how to liven it up, I decided I should probably add something from the other side of the color wheel, a trick I learned from Gail Callahan, the “Kangaroo Dyer.” So my plan was to play with that idea a bit and see what happened. Just before I went into the studio, though, to do just that, I happened to look again at the original photograph.

I found this picture on Pinterest, but was able to track it down to  photographer Tammy Hughes' website .

I found this picture on Pinterest, but was able to track it down to photographer Tammy Hughes' website.

And there it was, staring me in the face all along–that dark brown in the bottom half of the picture. Some browns, like that one, are essentially oranges with a lot of black in them. So there had been something from the other side of the color wheel in the photograph. I just hadn’t noticed it or understood its importance to the color relationships in the picture.

Once I understood that the dark brown was a crucial piece of the of the puzzle, I dyed some fiber. I used exactly the same colors that I had used before, added a rich dark brown, and was astounded by the difference. I like the new version so much more.

The new and improved version, on Bond pencil roving

The new and improved version, on Bond pencil roving

This whole experience is a good reminder that I tend not to take into account the role that the darkest values play in the photographs from which I’m working. That was the issue with another colorway, “Daylight Fading/Evanesce,” that didn't translate so well from photograph to fiber, and  which I wrote about in my newsletter. So that’s the one I’m going to work on next, adding in the nearly black, smokey purple of the branches and seeing what difference it will make.

PS: If you like this colorway, it's now available in the shop in Bond, Coopworth, Dorset Down, Montadale, Organic Polwarth, Shetland, Suffolk, and Targhee!