Hand-dyed braids dominate my stash, but it can be hard to tell the color layout when the fiber is braided. However, I don’t always have to spin a braid as it was dyed. To change the colors, I deconstruct my braids, reorganize the colors, and change the preparation. This allows me to control the color and put the color where I want it. I don’t always have the finished yarn in mind, but I enjoy sitting at my wheel and taking sneak peeks at a beautiful bobbin of which I am in total control.
Make a Plan
Start by unbraiding the fiber and lay it out lengthwise. In most cases, once the braid is laid out, I am able to tell how the braid was dyed and the full length of the colors. Notice how the colors are arranged and develop a plan for color management and preparation. Next, I use my color wheel to help me decide on possible color blends. The goal of controlling my own color is to be sure that my deconstruction does not create the dreaded mud.
Begin by separating your colors into matching color stacks. In the braid shown, I have yellow, blue, and purple. Basic color theory tells us yellow and purple are complementary, or opposites, on the color wheel. This lets us know that if we blend these colors in equal amounts, we create a muddy shade. The color wheel also shows us that yellow and blue make green.
Change the Prep
Armed with a bit of color knowledge, I decide on a new preparation.
Method 1: Blending Board
To combat having flat, solid-colored singles, I use my blending board to aid in creating color depth. When breaking down a braid by hand, the color on the tip ends will most likely be a different color from the main one in the stack. Don’t worry about that. The tips of a different color add dimension to your rolags.
Method 2: Drumcarder
Another great tool to use when deconstructing braids is a drumcarder. First, I deconstructed the braid by color stacks. Next, I blended each color side by side on the drumcarder. Notice in the photo below how the yellow and blue fibers, center and right, make green, which is a color that was not in the original braid. Also, the carded color stacks allow me, once again, to have softer colors with more depth.
I hope my tips give you a chance to rethink your hand-dyed braids. Let the deconstruction begin!
Emonieiesha Hopkins is a Chicago, Illinois, fiber evangelist. She loves to gather her wool and good fiber friends, any time, any place. Emonieiesha can be reached via hopkinsfiberstudio.com.
This article first appeared in Spin Off Spring 2021.