Base matters

Today I'd like to wax rhapsodic about the effects your base fiber has on the final colorway and, by extension, the final yarn. Because it does make an amazing difference. I try to make it clear on the colorway pages that the final product may look different, depending on the base fiber, but I thought it might be interesting for you to see that principle in action.


Here we have four of the test samples I did for the Mantis colorway that's currently in the shop.

From L to R: Mantis on Corriedale, BFL/Nylon, BFL/kid mohair and Dorset Horn
From L to R: Mantis on Corriedale, BFL/Nylon, BFL/kid mohair and Dorset Horn

Hopefully you can see that there are some variations between color intensity on the various types of fiber - the way the dye struck on the Corriedale and BFL/nylon blend is very different when compared to the BFL/kid mohair and Dorset Horn samples. I find it particularly interesting that different dyes act differently: the yellowy green is much lighter on the right-hand sampels then the left-hand ones, but there isn't as much variation in the intensity of the red (at least to my eyes).

Here's the same four samples spun up and chain plied, so the colors are maintained in sequence (skeins are in same order from left to right).


You can see that the Corriedale still has more intense yellow sections then the BFL/kid mohair or Dorset Horn. The BFL/nylon is somewhere in the middle. In all cases, the red section has been muted significantly by the undyed fiber that was in the same section of the top. The BFL/kid mohair has a lot more blue in the skein then the others, but I think that's just due to the the layout of the dye on the sample, not any inherent characteristic of that blend.

The skeins individually (clockwise from upper left: Corriedale, BFL/nylon, Dorset Horn, BFL/kid mohair):

So what conclusions can be made from this little experiment? Well...generally speaking, the Dorset Horn and Corriedale are duller final yarns (not much sheen), which is due to the fact that the fiber itself has a somewhat matte finish. The BFL blends have much more sheen and luster, partly due to the blend (particularly the nylon, which is super sparkly!), and partly due to the luster that is inherent to Bluefaced Leicester wool.

More closeups, Corriedale above, BFL/nylon below.

I am absolutely enamoured of how the nylon in the BFL blend takes the dye in a different way then the wool, and the way that those colors blend together in the final yarn. I think I need sweaterlots of this fiber in about four different colorways!


The next step is to knit up some swatches out of these samples to see how the colors carry through to the final product. Sounds like a good project for a (predicted) rainy weekend.


Happy spinning,


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