Whether in paintings or textile arts, I particularly love complex colours that have been mixed from a number of different hues, those slightly ambiguous colours that defy categorisation. One of the reasons I took up spinning and dyeing is to be able to create yarns in these kinds of colours. While rainbow-dyed yarns can be beautiful, I prefer yarns where the colours have been mixed before spinning. The colour transitions are somehow more subtle and interesting that way. And if you want a yarn that from far away looks solid but on closer inspection consists of lots of interesting shades, mixing the colours before spinning is the best way to achieve this.
I have been spinning now for about half a year, and so far I have mainly been practising with natural coloured wool. By March my little dyeing studio in an outbuilding was finally ready, kitted out and in action, and since then, as regular readers of this blog will know, I have been experimenting with natural dyes and I am finally getting to a stage that I now have a lovely stash of colourful wool to start playing with.
You can of course mix colours on hand cards, but I wanted to have a slightly more efficient method of carding wool in reasonable quantities. Being a big fan of books and videos by Deb Menz, the queen of colourful spinning, I knew that I really, really want a drum carder. It’s the tool I need to link my spinning and dyeing activities.
Drum carders are not cheap, and so for a while I hesitated buying one. But in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. Having read various reviews on the internet I decided to go for a Strauch Finest, in double width. I couldn’t find a UK supplier, so bought one from an online shop based in Germany (I could have ordered one directly from the US but I thought that if there’s any trouble shipping it back to Germany will be cheaper). I had to wait for about four weeks to receive it, but now it is finally here – so exciting!!
Being double width, it is pretty huge – it’s taking about a third of our dining table (luckily Hugh is away on business so my craft activities can take over the whole house!). I am having a great time experimenting with it – I’m very much in a sampling mode at the moment so I am producing small batts, spinning them and knitting swatches to see the results. So far at least I’m pretty pleased with my choice, as it is easy to use and certainly works well with the fiber I’ve used so far, but as I’ve only just received it I can’t really say I have pushed it to its limits yet.
My head is now full of yarns and colour combinations that I want to produce. Once I’ve had the chance to knit some swatches I’ll show you some results of my experiments!