A painted roving is a delicious proposition—lovely fiber, sensuous color, the promise of a unique and delightful yarn. We usually want to jump right in and start spinning, but we often end up with surprising results. Sometimes they are good surprises when the roving turns into a yarn more beautiful than the one we imagined, and sometimes the results are disappointing when the clarity of the roving’s colors turn to mud. Often, spinners are mystified about predicting what the colors of their fiber will do when spun. If you take the time to analyze how to prepare and spin the fiber, you can control the resulting yarn.
There are three major factors to consider when predicting the outcome of your striped yarn: scale, direction, and color. I will first analyze the role of scale and direction relative to the fractal stripe (a fractal is a mathematical definition of a pattern in which the element is repeated on a smaller and smaller scale into infinity). Color theory is a subject too large for this article (see Deb Menz’s book Color Works for a thorough treatment of the topic); however, we will explore a few principles very briefly.