Spinning Tuesday: What I’ve noticed about marling

Barber pole, peppermint stick, marl are all used to describe a type of yarn that has two high-contrast singles plied together. It’s a type of yarn I really don’t care for.

Though I have recently made marled yarns with less contrast that I’ve really liked. I’ve also noticed the weight of the yarn makes a difference in the marling.

So I’ve been experimenting, want to see?

Lovely blue and white Romney

I started with high contrast blue and white Romney, spun and plied to three different weights: bulky, worsted and DK/fingering.

3 weights of marling

Here’s what I see, as the yarn gets thinner and the twists per inch number gets higher, the colors blend more, which I like, even at a high color contrast.

Merino dyed last summer

I tried the same experiment with some fiber I dyed last summer, that was blue, green, yellow and white – much less contrast. I spun and plied it on itself, deliberately getting it to marl.

3 weights of blue/green marl

Still stripey, but even more visually pleasant to me even at the bulky weight, because of how the colors work together.

Both colorways all weights

Here are both color/weight experiments side by side.

Now I am thinking about how to use marling to blend colors, to get certain colors to pop, and to make a deep and rich colored yarn, and about what color combination or characteristics work best at each weight.

I kind of knew this would send me into a thinking and experimenting spiral. I love that about spinning.

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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com

15 thoughts on “Spinning Tuesday: What I’ve noticed about marling

  1. Seanna Lea

    I bought some Wildfoot sock yarn back when I was first getting into knitting socks. It was marled and I almost immediately had an adverse reaction to the project. Like you, it was probably the contrast getting to me (it was a dark navy and white). It was a yarn that probably needed a plain treatment.

  2. Michelle

    I recently plied a natural brown Jacob single with a white Shetland single and now have 1200 yards of marled yarn. I am at a standstill now for lack of a suitable use, since “color trumps pattern.”

  3. Lori

    I’ve been playing with this idea using two contrasting rovings similar to your merino. Contrast the blues and greens with something orange and red. Or two rovings with one color in common yet others widely contrasting. Watch the colors spin in and out.

  4. Rachael

    I’m pretty new to spinning, so the thing that got me about this post was looking at your three different weights of yarn and going, “Wow. She spun three different weights that consistently! Man!” Well done!

  5. Lisa Rogers Lowrance

    I experimented this week with dying marled yarn – the singles were brown and cream natural wool, and I dyed the finished yarn green. The cream single turned out bright green and the brown a gorgeous dark green, turning my high-contrast marled yarn into a gorgeous tone-on-tone tweedy yarn. I highly recommend this overdying method!

  6. Kathy in S.B.

    Lisa, I really like this idea! I remember an art teacher I had that recommended blending some of leaf color into the paint you were using to paint the bark of a tree, because it would pull the colors together and make them look like they belonged on the same plant. This is kind of the same idea, overdying providing a common base tone for all the variations. I have to try this!

  7. Ginnie Schirmer

    No ifs, ands, or buts about it, you’ve inspired me to work with the rabbit fur we picked up in Taos. Thanks for being the magical muse!

  8. Robin

    That’s one thing I find so addictive about spinning – the color and twist combination possibilities are infinite! Thanks for sharing your experiment. 🙂

  9. Jillian

    I will knit my wee skeins and post the photos next Tuesday. I promise not to tease you with un-knitted experimental skeins in the future!

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