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Scrap Batts: Variegated Yarns

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My fibre collection consists of a large amount of mill end and scrap fibre. I like to combine these oddments in different ways on my drum carder to make larger amounts of yarn.

This tutorial is about combining small amounts of fibre to make variegated yarns.

1: First of all you will need to choose your fibre.

I find that a fibre with a bit of “grab”, such as wool, is the best type of fibre for this style of yarn.

I’m using scraps of 22 micron felting batts, which are already carded and some dark brown wool.

If you are using a fibre that has not been processed you will need to card each colour separately to make sure they are properly prepared when you come to spin.

Once you have prepared each colour separately count roughly how many full batts you have and break each colour into that number of pieces. I had enough fibre to make roughly 4 full batts so I broke each colour into 4 equal pieces.

Make separate piles of fibre for each new variegated batt. Each pile will contain one piece of each colour from the batts you have just torn apart, plus one piece of any preprepared fibre you are using.

My carder is an Ashford fine cloth carder and is quite small compared to many carders on the market that are designed for small cottage industry. My carder comfortably holds 20-28gms (3/4-1oz) of fine fibre so I made each batt from roughly that amount.

2: Pull each colour into a thin strip and card, placing each colour next to the last one. Overlap them a tiny amount to stop the batt from falling apart when you take it off the carder.

I started on the left hand side of my carder with tan, then orange, brown, pink, aqua, lavender, light blue, purple, and finally dark blue.

3: Remove the finished batt from the carder very carefully. It will be a bit more delicate than a regular batt because the fibres are not overlapped as much where you changed colours.
4: To prepare your batt for spinning, tear it perpendicular to the direction the fibres are lying. If it’s very difficult to tear try again a little further over. Each tear will need to be at least one staple length apart.

At this stage you will need to make a design choice about your finished yarn.

If you want your colours to repeat in exactly the same order throughout the whole skein then you will tear the strip all the way down to the bottom of the batt. This will make 4 or 5 separate strips from each batt.

If you want your colours to repeat in a mirror image (like I have chosen to do) then tear your batt as I have done in the photographs.

To create a mirror-image repeat the first tear will start at the top and go almost all the way down to the bottom.

The second tear will start at the bottom and go almost all the way to the top.
And so on until you have finished. This will create one strip from each batt.
5: Predraft your strips carefully.
6: They will be too delicate to roll into a ball for spinning. I like to pile mine very carefully into a bag, ready for spinning.
A closeup of my finished yarn.

I spun my yarn into a bulky wieght 2 ply yarn to create a mottled variegated yarn.

If you prefer, you can chain ply to keep each colour separate and clear. Each coloured section will be shorter but will consist of a single colour only for a traditional variegated look.

I used my yarn to knit a toddler sized knut hat. You can get the free pattern here on 🙂

Copyright Sarah Bradberry August 22nd 2008. All rights reserved.

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