At the wheel with mixed veggies

A little while ago, a friend was perusing Abby’s hand painted stuff over on ebay and had a little falling down in the silk department. Since I’m a vegetarian, she thought (and was truly correct) that I would get a kick out of a colourway Abby had called “Mixed Veggies”. When it arrived however, it was quite a bit brighter than she had expected. Beautiful, but bright. She popped it in the mail anyway, and this is what I saw when I opened the box.


It’s just about fluorescent. Screaming orange, bright green, livid red….Totally carrots, peas and red peppers on acid. I was stunned. Intrigued though. Rovings often do very, very strange things when they are spun up. Things that are bright and jarring are often very different when they have been processed. Things snuggle up, bleed into each other… I was sceptical, but after having read Abby’s tutorial on how to blend fibres to make tweed yarns, and seeing what unlikely colours she put together, and what a beautiful result she got with a little thought, I decided to think about it and trust her obviously intelligent colour sense.

There are a couple of things I know about spinning color. (I admit, almost all of the things I know came from the book Color in Spinning, by the very clever Deb Menz.) The first thing that I know is that spinning tends to intensify the colors in a roving. This was bad news, since if the colours in this roving got any more intense they were likely to blind an nearby innocent. I knew I was going to have to take as many measures as I could to tone down the intensity using spinning techniques so I would get something that I could enjoy, and not just as a safety product during walks in the woods during hunting season with Dick Cheney. Another thing I know is that colors are more likely to be subtle if I spin thin, rather than thick. Ok.


I spun it sort of thin. (I’m apparently not really, totally on my silk game, since this is only “thinnish” and not entirely predictably so.)

As I began to spin, I discovered that while the colours were very bright, there was way more white in there than I thought. That made a huge difference, washing out a lot of the intensity as I spun. The singles were looking pretty good, green bled into orange, orange was tempered by white…. Should I ply? Back to Deb…

“The colors in singles multicolored yarns are clearer and brighter than in plied yarns.”

Well. If singles are brighter, then I was plying. The more plies the better, but the more plies, obviously the less yardage I would have. (I saw little point in owning 18 metres of a spectacularly blended five ply.) I decided (since I want sanity, as well as good yarn) to go with just two. (I know. A bit of a cop out.) If I had reviewed more of Deb’s book before starting I would have spun even thinner so that I could at least do a three ply and still get decent yardage, but this is a learning curve, and I’m bound to fall off it now and again.


Two ply. Shoddy, underspun silk two ply, but kindly refer to the above statement about me, silk and the apparently sweaty and steep learning curve. The point is, I think we can agree (besides that I have spun this badly) that this:


Is an electric mixed veggie that looks like the garden got hit with a radiation gun…. and this:


Thanks to the spinning genius of Deb Menz and the dying genius of Abby (who turns out to dye brilliantly and not at all like she’s on acid) is very, very nice yarn that is entirely approachable and reasonable. The moral? Just what I had hoped. That rovings and the yarns you make from them are often as related as how Martha Stewart and I prioritize doing a good job of the laundry.