Spinning a fractal yarn is a great way to handle colors for a softer, self-striping pattern that carries all of your fiber’s colors throughout the project. A fractal in mathematics is very precise, but the term is applied very loosely to the spinning concept. It simply describes a way to divide an individual fiber top that directly impacts the color handling.
I started with a gorgeous dyed fiber top, created by Roe of Purls, a local artist who has a brilliant sense of color harmony. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to run into her again at PlyAway this year.
To spin a fractal, the top is divided down the middle, length-wise. One half is spun directly, without any changes. The second half is further divided into smaller sections and spun end to end. Finally, the two yarns are plied together.
By dividing the color like this, the yarn develops an interesting striping pattern which repeats colors throughout and balances the overall color, even if the original top is not color-balanced.
I chose a simple pattern to really show off the colors – the easy mistake stitch scarf. This scarf relies on an uneven number of stitches to create an offset ribbing.
No two stripes in the scarf are exactly alike, and yet they create a balanced and appealing overall appearance. Each color is represented along the length of the yarn in different proportions and in different combinations with the other colors from the top. You will never find a yarn quite like this in the big box store.
Fractals are a great and easy way to handle color in yarn design and are a great starting place to making a truly one-of-a-kind item.
Experiment! Try making a fractal with six sections vs four sections. See what happens if you reverse the colors. Post a picture of your fractal to our Facebook Page!