A Colorful Spring: Spinning for Colorwork

Spinners are stretching the boundaries of colorwork this spring in Spin Off's annual spin-along.

Stefanie Johnson Apr 15, 2024 - 5 min read

A Colorful Spring: Spinning for Colorwork Primary Image

The author was inspired to spin yarn for her Zigzag Hat from fiber she dyed last winter. All photos by Stefanie Johnson

As I pondered what to create during the 2024 spin-along, I was inspired by the yarns I dyed this past winter using avocado pits and peels. My finished Zigzag Hat surprised me as I had only seen a photo of the crown prior to knitting it myself. For this year’s spin-along, I spun two contrasting sportweight two-ply wool yarns for the hat, then a few yards of marigold-dyed wool for a flower pistil-like topknot.

Stef’s completed Zigzag Hat

I’ve only just begun the knitting of Ellen Dolson’s Turkish Stockings, but I am already in love with the rich tonal colors achieved in my handspun. The semi-worsted three-ply main color yarn is a pale green wool and nylon mix I blended, making good use of small amounts of leftover fibers and samples that were languishing in my stash. The bits of greens and blues were enough to provide a subtle, pleasing color to the dizzed batts of mostly white fiber.

Stef is making great progress on her Turkish Stockings.

For the contrast color, I separated out the purple hues from a hand-dyed braid of BFL/silk blend from Frabjous Fibers, split those lengths of fiber into three equal strips for three plies, pre-drafted, and then spun another semi-worsted three-ply yarn. The silk in the fiber blend resulted in a yarn that is smooth and shimmery with a very luxurious feel, and the silk alongside hard-wearing BFL wool should provide strength and durability in my socks.

I enjoyed spinning for these stockings so much that I took the green and gray sections and blended them on the drumcarder for a slightly more homogenous color throughout and am spinning that for my next pair of handspun socks.

Meanwhile, my fellow spinners have posted some fantastic handspun colorwork project ideas in the Ravelry colorwork spin-along forum, ranging from sweaters to mittens to afghan squares, and even a woven Krokbragd chair cover. We have shared some of our favorite designs and ways to incorporate colorwork into our respective crafts. Spinners have shared eight finished objects thus far, with at least 17 more in progress; so many beautiful handspun yarns to admire! This month, I expect to see some finished Tunisian crochet mittens, some woven pieces, and many more knitted pieces!

Joanna Johnson added a few pops of color to familiar knitted stitches in her Striated Handspun Hat from the Spring 2023 issue of Spin Off.

Next, I will be searching my stash for fiber options to create a Striated Handspun Hat. I likely won’t finish that before the colorwork-themed spin-along ends on May 1, 2024, but the group chatter on Ravelry always continues for those of us who haven’t quite finished our lofty plans! Perhaps we’ll see you there?

Do you have a current spinning project that would fit the colorwork theme? If so, we’d love to see you join in the colorful conversation by checking out the Ravelry forum, where you’ll find the spin-along thread.

The Spin Off team would love to see photos of your completed projects, which must be finished by May 1st. Share them via Spin Off’s email address.

When Stefanie Johnson is not protecting public health through environmental inspections and communicable disease investigations, she enjoys teaching others to spin, knit, and weave. The Johnsons raise French Angora rabbits, honeybees, and a variety of chickens and ducks on their hobby farm, Settlers Grove, in Illinois. More of Stefanie’s work can be found in Taproot, Knitty, Knotions, and on Etsy and Ravelry.