Spinning a gradient is really easy when you have fiber braids that are already dyed in such a manner, but in this post we are going to go over how to approach multiple braids in different colorways for such a project. The colorways we are using are dyed as a set meant to go together, but the same techniques will apply to others. The key is finding braids that share similar or the same colors with their neighbor.
Color and Value
There are a couple options to approach this from. We can go from the colors and how they align or by value. Turning an image grey scale can really assist in visualizing light and dark values.
We can see that between the braids, 1 and 2 share a soft yellow and similar blues. 2 and 3 share the same soft yellow and the rust. While 3 and 4 share the olive greens, but the rust from 3 will lead into the wine color in 4 as well. For this project, we are going by color pairings instead of value. If we had chosen value, it would be best to swap color 2 and 3 as noted be the dark values in 2.
Braiding your halves together can be a really quick and easy way to visualize your prospective gradient as well. Braiding like this is done just like a crochet chain.
Splitting the Braids
To start, I split each braid in half widthwise by matching the ends up and finding the center to pull apart. One half of each braid was then set aside. Next, you will want to find the seam in the remaining half of each braid, like above, and open the braid up. You can split this in half lengthwise, creating quarters. Weigh each quarter and match up your neighboring colors by weight. Your end colors in a set of 4 will end up with additional pieces after this step like so.
You can see we are beginning to create single colorway skeins and transitional skeins between them which sit lower in the photo above. This gradient set is really shaping up into a lovely project. Having your transitional pieces matched up by weight will make plying an easier job. For this project, I am shooting for traditional 2 ply yarns to make it really simple. If you are seeking to do more plies, you can split these further, keeping your weights the same for each ply. For uneven plies, you can match up a mixed set from the two colorways for the odd number that equals the weight of the even number plies.
One thing that is not going to work here, is the last colorway being a gradient while the other 3 are variegated. This is a great opportunity to do some Color Editing by splitting the gradient pieces into multiple sections and aligning them in a way that we start spinning with the same end every time. I absolutely love gradient style braids for this level of flexibility. Having the colors in clear, definable sections makes it very easy to customize layouts.
Here, after color editing the last braid, you can see that it blends much easier into the set. I will probably split it a little further than pictured to make it more random when I go to spin this piece.
Spinning and Plying
The singles are lovely at the end of spinning! You can split these as many times as you like, but since the smallest portion was a quarter, I split those one more time lengthwise to thin out the color repeats. This means every portion except for Greek Olives, the last braid, was split into eighths and then spun into the singles that I needed to keep the color repeats consistent in every skein. Being a long run gradient, Greek Olives needed to be split one step further lengthwise to reduce the color section sizes. I spun it so that I started with the bright green with every portion and allowed a good amount of overlap with each join to blend them together a bit. This turns a gradient into a variegated yarn really quickly and you can see below that it worked out really well!
When plying, the transition skeins were plied together from the smaller cakes as they were. Since I spun the single color skeins into one strand, they were first split in half by weight and then plied. It is not advised to ply direct from both ends of a center pull ball as you can skew the twist of your singles and your yarn can end up justified to one direction.
This was such a fun experiment and will make a fantastic gradient accessory to wear. I hope this gives you new inspiration for your stash and some of the Color Editing that can be done to get really customized projects.