It's usually considered best to start at the beginning and proceed to the end. There's no end in sight, though. A couple of weeks ago I watched with interest as a friend blended her colours for the Rampton Project 2009 on her Louet drum carder. I eventually asked if I could borrow it, and recently I tried it for myself. I don't think I've put the Romney fleece on record (can you sense my embarrassment? my third fleece?)
From Ashford in New Zealand via Treenways in Canada. Isn't it gorgeous?
So... I decided to try a Romney/tussah silk blend, just to see what happens. The washed locks were flicked open and spread carefully across the tray thing while I turned the drum carder handle as slowly as possible, then more slowly still. Once I'd built up a layer of Romney on the drum, I lashed a finely-spread layer of tussah
directly onto the drum, then covered it with more Romney. 60g of Romney and 9g of silk later, I removed the batt and fed it through again. I'd have done a third (I tried lashing some silk across the drum, but these strands didn't blend on that pass, the action just brought them together in a solid strip), but the silk was starting to think about nepps. The end result:
And this is what it looks like on the bobbin:
I like it a lot. I want to make MORE.
Speaking of the Rampton Project, there's been some progress. Here's the photo I'm working from, just to remind you.
I chose colours from that photo and tried to match them or at least come close, by blending dyed wool on handcards (see this post for more details). I added white and black silk to some blends, and others have silk noil in shades of green and orange to reflect some of the variation in the colours of the photo. The final list is Dawn Sky, River/Cloud Purple, Grass Gold, Beach Bronze, Islet Brown, Bright Grass Green, Mid Grass Green, Dark Grass Green, Shadow Blue, and Cloud White. The fibre for each was weighed as I created it, so I can blend more to match. Which is just as well.
This is an array of batts based on that photo:
The p-chullo pattern requires 10 colours, and there are 10 in that shot, but after looking at them laid out I realised that the beach bronze (second from right) was too bright, and the shadow blue (fourth from left) was too similar to the river/cloud. So I added some black to the bronze, and lots of black and more magenta to another attempt at the blue. The pattern is written for Berocco Ultra Alpaca, a 3-ply, so I blended 3 batts of each colour. I happen to have some, so I unraveled a length, made a sample card and started spinning.'X' marks the wrong blue; I have to say its replacement, next to it, is one of the prettiest colours I've seen anywhere. This is how to get colours of the beauty and subtlety of the Starmore collections. Also I am very, very proud of the quality of some of that handspun!
I think the effect is close enough to be going on with. I need to think very carefully about the balance of the colours, and how to echo the combinations that stand out in the photo. Next? I have to get gauge, or close to it. First I have to finish this:
Another Aeolian in BMFA Rook-y, like the first. Hand-dyed yarn varies: this isn't as pretty as the first, the colours are brighter, but I can fix that with a bath in 10 or 20% black dye before I block it.
But before I can finish that, I have to cut the hedge. I'll deserve an afternoon sitting and knitting after that!