Spinning Painted Roving
The colors in a painted roving can be laid out in a variety of ways. They can be sequential, repeating in a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 fashion. They can be mirrored creating a 1-2-3, 3-2-1 design. They can also be simply random.
Any of these coloring sequences can produce lovely single ply yarn without much trouble. It is once they are plied that things get difficult. How can we create a striping yarn from these rovings that will do justice to the artists intent? A few simple tricks may help.
If the roving is thick enough, the easiest solution is to split it lengthwise into two strips, then use each strip to fill separate bobbins to achieve a matched set of singles that can then be plied together to create a self striping yarn. This works best on roving that has been space dyed while already formed into a hank.
Thinner rovings can be separated into single sections of the repeating pattern. These can be divided into piles according to the desired number of plies and spun in sequence.
In the case of irregularly spaced fiber, we can still achieve great results, there is just a bit more to the process. Separate each color of the roving into separate piles. Audition different color repeats to see which you like the most. Pre-stack two piles, one for each bobbin to spin from. At this point you may want to take some notes as to what color sequence you would like to pursue, as you don’t want to have to unwind an entire bobbin because the cat knocked over your fiber stacks.
While neither of these methods will create abrupt color transitions, they will keep the colors more vivid than they would be without the prep work. To achieve even more color regularity, you could use the Navajo plying technique of plying the single strand back upon itself.
With very random or mottled color patterns, there is very little that can be done to achieve strong color regularity. One suggestion is to choose a color or two that you want to highlight, get some additional fiber in those colors, and spin them into the yarn to bring up the color.
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